Exiled Chimurenga music legend Thomas Mapfumo has denied long peddled allegations that he bought stolen cars in Zimbabwe, telling Nehanda TV that no one had ever filed a complaint claiming the cars in his possession were stolen.
The allegations in 2000, were that Mapfumo bought five stolen BMW vehicles. But Mapfumo has always insisted that the people who sold the cars to him were roaming freely in Zimbabwe so there could never be a just cause to have him arrested. The outspoken musician relocated to the United States in 2004 alleging intimidation and persecution. He travelled to the United Kingdom this month for a oneoff show in Leicester on the 16th of April. Nehanda TV caught up with him for a wide ranging interview
In the interview Mapfumo said “I am the one with a gripe with the government. My relative Cuthbert Chiromo (manager) was called by the police. I was now in America at this time. He was told, come see and take Mukanya’s vehicles. “No one came forward to claim that the vehicles had been stolen. Chiromo had the documents stamped and taken to the yard where the vehicles were. Some of the cars now had broken windows and rain water had soaked the interior and seats.” Mapfumo said Chiromo was told “these are Mapfumo’s cars, we could not find anyone claiming the vehicles had been stolen from them. We want to return the cars to Mukanya.” “When Cuthbert went back the second time to collect, the vehicles had disappeared. The cars were sold by some policeman.
The policeman we are told was transferred to Bulawayo. Thats corruption. The cars were sold by a policeman. I have hired a lawyer in South Africa. I want my money back. I did not steal any cars. I bought the vehicles. In previous articles on the issue Chiromo explained parts of the case. He said of the five BMW cars impounded in 2000, one was returned. “Mapfumo’s late lawyer Lipworth Kabote had only managed to secure one car when he tragically passed away. The car was in such a bad state that Mukanya for a moment resolved not to pursue the remaining four cars but he later changed his mind
Two senior CID officers a Mr Marodza and a Mr Mahohoma gave us the permission to get back the cars but just like that they had disappeared. The cars were all BMWs — a 528; a 320; 328 and 318.
“Senior police officers are helping us to get to the bottom of the matter so that we can trace who took the cars. The police are cooperating with us so we can put this matter to rest,” said Chiromo. Supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s regime have used the vehicle issue to make claims that Mapfumo had not fled political persecution but a criminal case. But Mapfumo is quick to point out that he has also held shows in neighbouring Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa. “If the authorities in Zimbabwe believed Mapfumo had a case to answer they would have enlisted the help of the police in Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa to have him arrested,” another source familiar with the case told Nehanda Radio.
In the past his publicist Blessing Vava has moved to set the record straight saying “the allegations that Dr Mapfumo has pending cases with the police are rather false and unfounded and bent on portraying the music legend as a criminal and a fugitive. “We urge journalists and anyone interested to follow up the case with the Zimbabwe Republic Police so that they get the truth of the matter rather than publishing falsehoods. “Dr Mapfumo is a law abiding Zimbabwean and has no case to answer in the alleged crime and is therefore not afraid of coming to Zimbabwe. Any suggestions to the contrary are fictitious and imaginations which have become a day to day experience in some sections of our media,” Vava added.