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Exhausted, freezing and hungry, yesterday evening I was in nothing but a mad rush to get myself home. That was around 5:30 but it was already getting dark since winter is really here.

I was on my way to my “combis” at Albion when I encountered a huge crowd on the corner of Jason Moyo and Cameron Street. This being a very busy place I thought there had been an accident. It did not take me long to realize I was wrong. This was an angry mob banging the glass walls of Iton Distributors, baying for someone’s blood. For the first time I wished I had a camera. Somehow I penetrated the crowd and found myself right in front of the locked entrance where all the action was. The glass exterior allowed me to see the shelves and all that was taking place inside. Now you know trying to get information from excited onlookers is usually a problem, so I had to contend with picking up bits and pieces of what had actually transpired.

Inside, an elderly woman maybe in her late 30s or early 40s lay unconscious on the floor a few meters from the locked entrance. Now and then, her hand or leg would twitch as uniformed bike police officers milled around her talking on their radio phones. The woman, identified as Mai Brenda by one of the vocal women, was drenched in water in an apparent effort to rouse her, and her legs and face were swollen.

Word had it she had stolen a plastic comb from the shop, got caught and received a thorough beating from the shop “manager” and two of his male subordinates. The hullabaloo was that the crowd wanted to mete out mob justice on the latter. I mean, even if she had stolen a television set, that was no excuse or right to beat her lifeless. As the swelling crowd got bigger and restive, the shrill alarm of a police vehicle suddenly pierced the air, and for a while, heads turned and voices quietened. Super cop “Silver” was cruising down Jason Moyo (which by the way is a one way street – indeed, I thought, some are more equal than others.) He was accompanied by a council ambulance.  I must admit, though I live in Zimbabwe, I had never before today, heard of this guy. I ventured to ask who he was and somebody whispered he was the super cop specially assigned to deal with carjackers. Supposedly a sharp shooter who is licensed to kill and drives an unmarked silver vehicle, hence the nickname. Never before had I witnessed the manifestation of power as the simple looking guy in his brown cap ordered everyone to vacate and for the ambulance people to get in and carry the woman to the ambulance. I’m sure he too, stern as he is said to be, felt the shop manager deserved to be disciplined. Although people backed off a bit, they were not willing to leave before the shop manager had been dealt with. Some shouted obscenities to the now frightened shop manager who was still domiciled in the building. Only the glass windows separated him from serious harm. I heard someone suggest they break down the glass exterior of the shop in order to beat up the occupants, if not to steal. Women chanted, “Murderer, murderer,” and some scolded the shop manager for “killing” a fellow black person over his Chinese boss’ comb. I doubt the shop workers made it home uninjured.

One comment to “Yesterday”

  1. Comment by Sam Gale Rosen:

    Hi Ms. Msonza, I’m writing from Open Source, a public radio show based in Boston and distributed around the country.

    Two years ago, we started what’s become a yearly tradition for us called Blogsday: http://www.radioopensource.org/blogsday-2007/

    Based loosely on Bloomsday, which celebrates James Joyce’s “Ulysses” as an evocation of the world in a single day (in Joyce’s case, June 16, 1904), the idea is to create a mosaic portrait by reading excerpts of blog posts written all over the world on the same day, for one night, for one hour, on live radio. This year, we chose this past Tuesday – June 5 – to collect posts from, and the show will air Thursday night from 7-8pm EST.

    I’m writing because we were intrigued by this post, and it’s on the shortlist to be included among our Blogsday best of the June 5th Blogosphere collection. (We also wrote to Bev Clark about one of her posts.)

    On Thursday night, we’ll bring in two accomplished and agile actors to read excerpts from our collection of posts on the air. I can’t guarantee that your post will make it onto the show at this point (we’re still knee-deep in our favorites), but you’re a finalist.

    We can’t pay anything – this is public radio after all – but we can guarantee a respectful treatment, a national radio audience, and a link on our blog.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll try to send another email if I can confirm that your post will definitely be on the show beforehand, but if things get too crazy we may just let you know after the fact.

    Sam G.R. (sam radioopensource org)