Norman Mabhena, younger brother of the late national hero Welshman Mabhena, says he has been receiving death threats from suspected Zanu PF activists accusing him of humiliating President Robert Mugabe by refusing to have the body of the former Matabeleland North governor buried at the Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
In an interview at the NewsDay newsroom yesterday, Norman Mabhena, who is the spokesman of the Mabhena family, revealed that he began receiving death threats on his phone on Sunday morning, a day after the burial.
He said the caller only identified himself as Ndlovu.
“Early on Sunday morning I was woken up by a call from a gentleman who only identified himself as Ndlovu,” Mabhena said.
“The man said to me: ‘We used to respect you as one of our own and as a liberator who fought for our country, a revolutionary par excellence, but we are disappointed that you failed to acknowledge top Zanu PF politicians by what you did. We know that you did this because you were offered a position in MDC-T’.”
Mabhena said he did not respond but let Ndlovu ramble on. “‘Zanu PF is a revolutionary party and what you did by refusing to release your brother’s body is digging your own grave,” Ndlovu continued.
Mabhena said he responded by letting Ndlovu know that he was aware that he (Ndlovu) had been sent by Zanu PF.
“I then told Ndlovu that I was aware that he is from Zanu PF and that we all know that Zanu PF was born out of blood. I also told him that his death threats meant nothing to me because Zanu PF killed my brother, so if they want to kill me as well it is okay as I will be following my brother. I told him that they were a revolutionary party that ate its own children,” said Mabhena.
Mabhena said he received another call on Tuesday from a different man who this time refused to identify himself.
“On Tuesday morning, I received another call. This time the man spoke in Shona and refused to identify himself,” he said.
The man allegedly asked Mabhena who he thought he was by refusing to release his brother’s body for burial at the Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
“Who do you think you are? If the President says Welshman should be buried at the Heroes’ Acre and you refuse, you are embarrassing the President. He (President) wanted to honour your late brother, but you refused,’’ the caller allegedly said.
Mabhena said he then told the unidentified man that what they did was honouring his brother’s wish.
“I told this man that before Welshman died, he wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery. It is something that is actually in black and white and not just a wish expressed verbally.
“It is written in his will. So I told this man that we were just fulfilling that wish and nothing more,” he said.
Mabhena said he told the man that the other reason for spurning the Heroes’ Acre was because Zanu PF intended to use his brother’s funeral for politicking.
“My late brother suffered under the Zanu PF regime and since the time that he was tortured in prison, his health was never the same again. He was later fired for no apparent reason when he was Governor for Matabeleland North. So there is no reason for us to go and bury him at the Heroes’ Acre,” he said.
Mabhena said the unidentified man then threatened him.
“You can remain stubborn like that but we will deal with you,” the man said to Mabhena.
Mabhena said he then hung up the phone.
He said he would report the matter to the police if the threats continued.
“These are not serious threats and I am not afraid at all. However, if they continue I will report them to the police,” said an unmoved Mabhena.
Norman Mabhena is the MDC-T secretary for reconciliation, integration and national healing.
The late Welshman Mabhena was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery on Saturday after the family stuck to their guns and insisted that the late political stalwart would not be buried at the national shrine in Harare.
Before his death, Mabhena is said to have made it clear to his family that he did not want to be buried alongside “thieves and crooks”.