HARARE - There is a Shona proverb that goes; “panofa munhu, mabasa ake anomutevera”, loosely translated “when a person dies, their deeds come to the fall.”
This proverb rings especially true in the case of the late Rebecca Mafukeni, who at the time of her death was deputy organising secretary for the MDC’s youth assembly in Harare.
The sombre atmosphere that is usually associated with death was not what greeted mourners gathered at number 34, 5 Avenue in Warren Park 1, Harare.
The atmosphere was more celebratory than mournful as MDC youths literally painted the street red when they sang and danced in celebration of the life of their fallen cadre.
Mafukeni joined the party at a tender age of 15 and was MDC through and through.
Youths were really charged up and energetic at her funeral, recalling her works.
They marched down the street, waving placards and posters bearing the deceased’s portrait, singing praises of their fallen heroine on a day when Zimbabweans were commemorating defence Forces Day.
Even threats by Zanu PF youths who were also attending a funeral of their member in the next street did not deter them.
The youths, clad in Zanu PF regalia, started shouting obscenities at the MDC youths who were going about their business.
“Murimbwa dzevanhu, manje nhasi hamucheme pano (You are dogs, we will not give you the chance to mourn),” one Zanu PF youth shouted.
But elderly women pleaded with their party members not to retaliate.
Two trucks with riot police officers were later dispatched to maintain peace.
The late Mafukeni was one of the 29 Glen View residents who were arrested in May 2011, for allegedly killing police officer Petros Mutedzi.
Most of the residents who were arrested together with her, including national youth chairperson Solomon Madzore, were later released on bail.
But she was among the six residents whose bail application was denied by the courts, which saw her spending the last two years behind bars.
Mafukeni, who was detained in a healthy state, developed diabetes, subsequently losing her sight sometime in February this year.
MDC national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa told the Daily News the party, through their lawyers, sought permission to have her treated at a private hospital but their requests fell on deaf ears.
Her health continued to deteriorate and four weeks ago, she was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital where she breathed her last on Monday morning.
“When she went to prison she was a healthy young woman and her health problems only started after her incarceration,” Chamisa said.
He added; “In a normal democracy there should be an inquiry into her death. The people who had her in their possession should be answerable.”
The Kuwadzana East legislator described Mafukeni as a dynamic cadre.
“She was more MDC than all of us that is why they targeted her,” Chamisa said.
MDC treasurer Elton Mangoma said Mafukeni’s death was a major blow to the party.
“All these people are here because they were inspired by the work she did for the party,” an emotional Mangoma said soon after a body viewing ceremony held at Nyaradzo funeral parlour on Tuesday evening.
ZimRights programme manager Cynthia Manjoro, who shared the same prison cell with Mafukeni, was so overcome with grief that she had to be assisted to view the body.
MDC youths gathered outside the funeral parlour sang songs about how their votes had been stolen during just-ended elections and how their president Morgan Tsvangirai was Zimbabwe’s true leader.
Some of the youths knelt down on the pavement at Nyaradzo funeral parlour and prayed for divine intervention.
“Baba vedu varikudenga, tinoziva muchatinzwa chete nerimwe zuva (Heavenly father, we know that someday you shall hear our prayers),” they prayed.
Anthony Jutas of Kuwadzana said Mafukeni’s death had dealt the party a huge blow.
“We are so hurt; it’s a blow that comes soon after the blow we suffered just last week. What is painful is that the other remaining five who are in prison are all not well.
“We were told that when Yvonne (Musarurwa) was informed about Rebecca’s death, she collapsed and was taken to hospital,”Jutas said.
MDC national youth spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo described Mafukeni as a fearless and selfless fighter.