by K Cheryl Mwanza | Episode #11
Cynthia Mare walked into the Homicide Department. She peeked into the working area, and locked eyes with Detective Inspector Qiniso Dhlamini. She swallowed hard as she began to walk toward the detective who was holding a rag in one hand, and a mighty marker in another. Her eyes never left Cynthia as she approached her.
They weren’t the nicest of friends, they weren’t even friends. From the moment they had met, there had been a lot of friction between them.
“Arh-Celeste and Danai came to my house and arh-I looked through the articles about ladies of the night and violence. I’m going to need something specific because in those five months I wrote almost a hundred articles about that.”
“Did any of the women die as a result of the violence?”
“In the articles that made it to the paper, no. But a month ago I wrote an article that could have catapulted me to stardom. But Sasha Mubaiwa threatened to sue me till I bled money from my nose if I ran with it.”
“Take a seat.” Dhlamini said pointing at a desk that was closest to the board. She then sat on top of the desk as she held a small black book in hand.
“As in Public Prosecutor Evelyn Gondo’s son?”
“Yes, him. He was going out with a woman who doubled as a lady of the night in the Avenues. A month and half ago, the woman was bashed to death by a John who had picked her up for the night-“
“Why would Sasha Mubaiwa threaten you?”
“She is Martin’s lawyer. Has been since she retired as a High court judge. Anyway, she didn’t want her client’s name to be associated with a lady of the night.”
“Do you still have notes on that story?”
“I do.” She said as she opened her bag. She took out a sealed plastic bag, and handed it to the detective.
Dhlamini received it then immediately opened it.
“Why would you need this?”
“It might be important for our case.” Dhlamini answered already into the case. “Thank you.”
Hunyani Creek was a high density location that was located along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway and right across the road from the National sports stadium. The suburb was divided into two, there was an area with nicely built, though tightly packed houses everyone referred to as the Creek. Away from the road and deep in the suburb, were the slums and the squatters and the heart and soul of the whole community.
When Debra had started seeing Nyasha Mtandwa, he had moved her from the slums, and had bought her a house in the Creek. He could have bought her a house anywhere. Infact he wanted to buy her a house in a nice place, but Debra wasn’t unable to get her mother to leave the Creek. And since she was fifteen when she the affair started, her mother had threatened Mtandwa with reporting him for statutory rape if he had continued on forcing Debra to leave.
What he had done however, was extent two rooms to the five that came with the house, had a brick durawall around the house and furnished it as expensive as he could. Mrs. Chimhepo was now reaping from where her daughter had sowed.
When Dube arrived in the Creek in the heat of the afternoon, Mrs. Chimhepo had her grandson strapped to her back and was leaning over an open fire cooking beans. With her was her daughter-in-law, who was doing laundry by a sink not so far from where she was.
Dube’s black Nissan Navara had drawn a lot of attention in the neighborhood and by the time it parked in front the Chimhepo residence, news of it had filtered to them. Now everyone else wanted to know what the car was doing there, and if it had anything to do with Debra. There were a lot of rumors about her in the area, especially after she had a baby out of wedlock, and was suddenly able to attend the Hunyani Creek Vocational Training School. After all, her mother wasn’t working and neither was she.
“I want to have a word with that man!” Mrs. Chimhepo spat out as soon as Dube entered. “What is he thinking sending someone in the afternoon like this!”
“Amai, please.” Amai Nico, the daughter-in-law, said as she stood next to her mother. Wiping her wet hands against her skirt she continued, “Let the woman speak. After all, it’s Mtandwa’s fault, not hers.”
“I’m not here because of Mr. Mtandwa. I’m here because of Debra Chimhepo. I was told she lives here.”
“I’m her mother. Why would you need to see my daughter?”
“Ma’am, I’m detective chief inspector Tanaka Dube and I’m with CID: Homicide-“
“Homicide?” Amai Nico asked as she held on to her mother-in-law. “You might want to sit down for this, amai.” She said as she went inside and came back with two stools.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but we found your daughter murdered.”
Cynthia Mare met up with Nashe Matinya at Nashe’s house, and shared with her what had happened at the police station. Since she was under Nashe’s wing, she had started doing things like Nashe, which meant she had kept a copy of the file that she had given to Dhlamini.
“Why would Dhlamini need this?”
“That is not important. But she was interested in Sasha Mubaiwa, maybe we need to take a look at her. Like look into her deeply.”
“What did, like, the wonder kids tell you about the case?”
“You think I have to ask them?”
“If they tell us anything, like, then we will know where Sasha Mubaiwa fits, like, into all of this and, like, we will know exactly what to look into about her.”
“It won’t be hard to get in touch with them. However, will the police be okay with us prying into the case like this?”
“I thought, like, you wanted to make a name for yourself? How can you do that when you are so afraid of the police?”
“After being arrested and spending a night in the holding cells, I don’t know-I don’t want to be arrested again.”
“This, like, is your case too. The letters are addressed to you.” Nashe said calmly.
Cynthia nodded at everything Nashe said although she wasn’t as enthusiastic as she had been when the first letter had arrived.
Mrs. Chimhepo returned to the cemetery a day after the burial. Standing before her daughter’s grave she could feel her heart breaking. She had cried so much when the detective had come with the news, and she had cried even harder when she had gone to the Mortuary for body identification.
However as the funeral processions went on, her mind slipped into a surreal state and it was as if her daughter was out, like usual, and was going to come back any time now. Even as she was standing infront of Debra’s grave, she found it hard to believe that her daughter was actually gone.
She felt pain inside of her, but was unable to cry for she had cried herself dry. She sighed as she turned away from the grave and began making the long journey home. She had lived all her life with her daughter and wasn’t looking forward to life without her. Her son had come back to live with her, and with him his wife, Amai Nico, and their two children. Mrs. Chimhepo had smiled when they had told them about their plans to stay, but having them with her was a painful reminder that Debra was no longer with her.
She arrived home, and found Cynthia Mare and Detective Mudiwa Chiwenga. They were huddled by the fire with her son and daughter-in-law. The last of the mourners had just left and only close family members had stayed on.
“Mrs. Chimhepo.” Chiwenga said as he got up. “I-“
“You can stay, detective. So can you, Mrs. Mare. Thank you for being here.” She said as she sat in-between her son and daughter-in-law. “My daughter-she was wonderful.”
“Writing about your daughter, I know I didn’t know her personally, but somehow I feel like I know her.” Cynthia said. “She was a good person.”
“I hope everyone will see that. You see, I know that my daughter had flaws, everyone has flaws detective. But I don’t want her to be remembered for those flaws.”
“I have been reading a lot on the author,” Amai Nico began, “Was there a way to prevent what happened to Aunt Debra?”
“It’s not good thinking like that, Amai Nico.” Her husband scolded her. “What good is thinking like that? What we should be asking is what the police are doing to find the killer!”
“My daughter just died. Can we respect that? Please.”
Chiwenga and Mare exchanged looks then both stared into the fire at the same time.