Cops are after me: Maphenduka

FORMER journalist Jonathan Maphenduka claims police raided his Bulawayo home demanding a gun he surrendered in the 1980s and believes he is being targeted because of the recent book he authored calling for secession of Matabeleland and the Midlands.

BY NQOBILE BHEBHE

Maphenduka, a former Chronicle senior journalist, released the book Rule by Conquest: The Struggle in Mthwakazi in April and intends to launch it in Bulawayo on June 25.

However, he fears police are now trying to build a case against him by trying to dig up his past.

Maphenduka said the search for a gun he surrendered a long time ago was linked to the publication of the book that accuses Britain of conniving with Zanu PF “to colonise” the region.

“I returned from Zambia last week to find out that plainclothes police officers had been to my house asking for guns that I surrendered to authorities,” he said yesterday.

“Those were firearms for farm use. The officers asked for a pistol whose licence was withdrawn in 1982, forcing me to surrender it to authorities.

“Is it a mere coincidence they have suddenly remembered I once held it now that I have written this book?”

Maphenduka said he was persecuted at the time on allegations that he wanted to overthrow the government.

The incident occurred at the height of Gukurahundi atrocities in the Midlands and Matabeleland.

“Subsequent to the withdrawal of the pistol and Zapu’s expulsion from government, I was arrested and detained at Donnington Police Station for six weeks accused of conspiring with a member of my family to overthrow the government,” he said.

Maphenduka said plans to launch the book were now in jeopardy after he was told by the National Art Gallery that the venue was no longer available.

“The official launch of this book will be held in Bulawayo on Thursday 25 June 2015 at a venue still to be decided,” he said.

“The National Art Gallery in Bulawayo was originally the venue identified for the book launch.”

The author said he was told the book must first be vetted and approved by the head office in Harare.

“This somehow puts the book on the banned list and booksellers would not want to market it,” Maphenduka said.

The book has been described as a “must-read for all those concerned with human rights and justice” by academic Samukele Hadebe.

Maphenduka argues that people of Matabeleland and the Midlands were victims of genocide attacks perpetrated by the colonial regime and the Zimbabwean government.

He calls for a peaceful secession of the region he refers to as Mthwakazi along pre-colonial boundaries.

Maphenduka says he wrote the book because he was aggrieved over the marginalisation of Matabeleland and the Midlands.

He said his account of history was not exhaustive because he penned the book in four months.

A number of groups campaigning for the secession of south-western Zimbabwe have sprouted in South Africa over the years.

One of the most prominent is the radical Matabeleland Liberation Organisation led by Paul Siwela who is in self-imposed exile after he escaped a treason trial.

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