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Mr Prosecutor Sir? Thabani Vusa Mpofu

Thabani Vusa Mpofu
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Thabani Vusa Mpofu

A lot of fiction has been written about me in the last two weeks so I’ve deemed it a good idea to present the public with something about me that IS true and which has been written by me.

That way I control the narrative. Enjoy the helping below. When I first posted this story my mother Elizabeth Khumalo was alive. She has since passed away and may her lovely soul continue to rest in eternal peace.

By Thabani Vusa Mpofu

Mr Prosecutor Sir?

My career as a Public Prosecutor almost ended before it started. Literally.

My letter of appointment had requested me to report for duty at the Gweru Magistrate’s Court on the 1st of July 1992. I did not make it on that date.

Instead, I reported for duty on the 6th of July showing no remorse for my failure to report for duty on time. I arrived at the Gweru Courts at 3 pm wearing a viscose shirt and a pair of tan trousers with more than just a whiff of alcohol in my breath.

My eyes were almost bloodshot and my voice was hoarse ,both conditions being a result of days of almost uninterrupted, excessive alcohol intake.

I approached the Senior Public Prosecutor Mirirai Shumba who almost collapsed when I handed him my appointment letter and introduced myself as his new Prosecutor. After what seemed to be an eternity, Shumba recovered and asked me to report for duty the next day.

The records at the Ministry of Justice reflect that I commenced my career as a Prosecutor on the 7th of July 1992.
The arrival of my appointment letter towards the end of June 1992 set in motion a period of wild celebrations whose main activity was binge drinking which lasted for almost a week.

My mother unwittigly sponsored this long bout of reckless drinking. She was travelling to Zambia on Monday the 29th of June and thought it prudent that she prepare me for this new life and career that I was about to start.

She bought me 40 kgs of rice ( I don’t eat sadza) and gave me $200 to get me started in Gweru. The rice made it to Gweru but not a single cent of the $200 did.

The partying started as soon as my mother left for Zambia.To this very day, she still thinks I made it to Gweru on the 1st of July. ( she doesn’t have a Facebook account so my secret is still safe).

I had no girlfriend and with my mother out of the way, there was no woman to disturb the smooth flow of my life and I could plan my events with a clear head and devote my full attention to alcohol (Castle lager to be more precise).

I organised a series of farewell parties starting from the 1st of July, with the first three being held at my mother’s house. These were not massive affairs but copious amounts of alcohol were consummed on these occasions.

Partying in earnest started on Saturday 4 July when the party moved to Mzilikazi Township with our base being my uncle’s house at Z37 Luveve Road.

There , I teamed up with my two cousins, Zwelani and Nomsa ,friends, Tendai, Lovejoy ( whose name accurately depicted his attitude towards life) ,Gertie, Ritumetsi and Chamu.

Together ,we constituted a formidable merry making machine and there was a lot of singing and dancing during the course of that weekend. We kicked off the party at Fetso’s shebeen in Ntabazinduna flats, Barbourfields.

After a few hours of concentrated drinking and dancing, it was suggested that we move to another shebeen, Judy’s place in Emakhandeni. This presented us with a small problem.

In order for us to preserve the cohesive spirit that had developed amongst us which was essential for morale ,we felt we needed to travel together and yet none of us had a car.

We all could not fit into one Emergency Taxi and in those days, these were found mostly in 404 and 504 Peugeot station wagon makes. This logistical problem was soon solved.
We hired a Peugeot 404 station wagon and the eight of us fit in quite comfortably. I sat in the front passenger seat as the main benefactor of the joyous enterprise. We didn’t stay too long at Judy’s. It was suggested that we go to Cecilia’s shebeen in Tshabalala township and off we went.

In Tshabalala, we were joined by my friend, Jabulani, who was due to start work as a Prosecutor in Gwanda on the 6th of July. The binging carried on unabated.

We out drank and outlasted all the other patrons at the shebeen and Cecilia (the shebeen proprietor) only managed to get rid of us by switching off the lights at 2.45 am after her tactic of turning off the music an hour earlier had failed to persuade us to leave.

Tendai lived in Tshabalala and he provided accommodation for Jabulani and myself for the night.
The next morning at around 8 am Tendai, Jabulani and I proceeded to Cecilia’s shebeen where we demanded to be served beers.

Cecilia, being an astute businesswoman ,did not resist our demands. Instead, she ordered that breakfast be prepared for us on the house whilst the lounge was being cleaned. A township breakfast delicacy of bread and fried liver with onions was soon served and by 8.45 am ,the three of us were already drinking and dancing to the music of the Soul Brothers and Splash ( two South African bands that were very popular in Bulawayo in the 90’s ).

We drank until all three of us were penniless. Tendai then negotiated for us to carry on drinking on credit and his request was granted. He was a well known patron at the shebeen.

We were eventually asked to leave the shebeen at 4 pm and when we tried to resist eviction, Cecilia announced that our credit status was being revoked and we were to proceed on a cash basis thenceforth if we wished to stay. We were unable to meet Cecilia’s tough conditions and we had to leave.

The next day Monday 6 July, Tendai went to a CABS branch, withdrew $90 from his account and gave me and Jabulani $30 each. I then left Bulawayo for Gweru on the same day to start my career as a Public Prosecutor.

Mirirai Shumba told me many years later that after my first meeting with him, he dashed for the telephone, contacted the Ministry of Justice in Harare and asked for a full description of the Thabani Mpofu that had just been posted to Gweru. Apparently, the response he received from Harare left him very dejected. The description fitted me to a “T”.

Despite the inauspicious start to my career, my stint as a Public Prosecutor in Gweru was more than just a modest success. Shumba promoted me to the Regional Court within a year of my joining the Justice Ministry, a feat hitherto unheard of in the service.

In the Regional Court, I appeared before such great Zimbabwean legal minds as Wilbert Mapombere, Alphus Chitakunye and the late Sandra Mungwira ( who once, in open court, said to me after observing my tie of many colours, ” Mr Prosecutor, your tie does not inspire confidence in your witnesses”.)

The scene that will however forever remain etched in my mind from my Gweru days is the expression on Mirirai Shumba’s face when he read my letter of appointment, looked at me aghast and asked in a horrified whisper,

” Mr Prosecutor Sir ?”

Robert Tapfumaneyi

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