A RUGGED, dusty road with thick gravel mixed with red soil branches off the tarred Kwekwe-Nkayi highway to the south at the 60 kilometre peg on the left side of the route in rural Silobela in the Midlands province.
Three kilometres down that road is a towering maroon signpost built with brick and mortar emblazoned with a depiction of a heart which reads: “Welcome to Loreto Mission School”.
This is the school where Australian-based 33-year-old Zimbabwean woman Susan Mutami (pictured) — who is accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of rape — did her Ordinary Levels in 2005.
Mutami, 47 years Mnangagwa’s junior and young enough to be his granddaughter, is currently trending on social media after presenting an unprecedented Twitter Spaces session with close to 13 000 listeners in which she sensationally accused Mnangagwa of raping her at the minor age of only 15. Mnangagwa, who officially turns 80 soon, is said to be actually older in reality — 84.
Effectively, Mutami is accusing Mnangagwa of rape, including statutory rape since she was a minor. She says the abuse occurred while she was at high school and later staying at Mnangagwa’s farm when he took over the responsibility of paying her fees before she eventually left for Australia after completing “O” Level.
As a result, Mutami has reported Mnangagwa to Queensland Police Service in Brisbane, Australia. The case will be referred to The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and other relevant jurisdictions. However, in terms of section 98 of Zimbabwe’s constitution, the President has immunity while in office.
“While in office, the President is not liable to civil or criminal proceedings in any court for things done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity,” it says.
This puts Mutami’s case in a touch-and-go or limbo situation, especially because Interpol would need Zimbabwean police’s cooperation to investigate the allegations.
The alleged abuse began when Mutami was in Form 3. She was in class F3C at the time.
The Roman Catholic Church school was built by Dominican Sisters in 1944 at a cost of £6 000. It was the first mission in Rhodesia founded by a women’s religious order and a deliberate step to expand the Sisters’ work in rural areas. Previously, the Sisters had only played a supporting role in helping run priest-led missions.
The school is run by the Catholic Diocese of Gweru, but the church’s congregation of men who take oath of celibacy — never to marry in their lives — The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, are practically in charge.
The Brothers of the Sacred Heart religious congregation was founded by André Coindre, a diocesan priest, in Lyon, France, in 1821. Their mission is the evangelisation of young people, especially through the ministry of education.
A smaller path from the signboard takes one to the gated administration block’s entrance, past a Roman Catholic Church building, boys’ dormitories and then girls’ hostels. In-between the dormitories is the school tuckshop on the right and an orchard on the left with a vast plantation of citrus fruits that include oranges.
Mutami says she was also raped several times by former state security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube, Mnangagwa’s confidante, in 2004. She says whenever Ncube was sent by Mnangagwa to take her home after forced sex with him, he (Ncube) would also demand sex from her and impose himself as well — secretly becoming a partner in crime.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba has denied the allegations, saying they were mere “rumour”. Mnangagwa himself has not spoken on the serious allegations. He has responded with loud silence. Ncube has also not commented.
The dining hall for pupils in Form 1-3 classes is located inside a yard housing girls’ hostels.
Senior students — namely those in Form 4, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth — have their smaller dining hall located inside the yard which has four dormitory blocks for boys.
The boys’ dormitory blocks are named in alphabetical letters: “A” block for Form 4 pupils, “B” block Form 2 pupils, “C” block Form 3 and “D” block is the elite residence for Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth students. All the buildings are painted maroon, the colour of the school uniform worn by girls from Forms 1-4. Girls wear also brown shoes with white socks, while boys wear black shoes and beige socks.
After Form 2, pupils are graded according to end-of-term results to fit into three classes for Forms 3 and 4. The best Form 2 pupils are placed into Form 3A class which studies science subjects like physics, chemistry and biology; 3B class is for average pupils doing commercial subjects like commerce, accounts and mathematics, while 3C is for those who do not qualify for 3A and 3B. They study arts subjects. Mutami was in 3C doing arts.
In the years leading to 2004, when Mutami was at the school, the headmaster was Brother SF Mpondi. He retired in 2014. The school still follows a strict religious and learning programme. Lessons start at 8am and end at 4:30pm, with students going back to class from 6pm to 8pm during the week for studies.
On Saturdays, students go for study between 2pm and 3pm, and then take a rest. On Sundays they go to class between 9am and 11am, then lunch at 1pm. They return to class from 2pm to 4pm; have supper at 5pm, and then go back again from 6pm to 8pm.
Every day before sleeping, students gather in dining halls for night prayers. Forms 1-3 go to church on Tuesdays from 6am to 7am, while seniors do so on Thursdays. On Sunday morning there is mandatory church mass for all students and teachers.
That is the sort of life Mutami lived and was socialised into during her high school years.
Through socialisation people acquire attitudes, values, and norms of a particular culture, as well as learn behaviours considered appropriate at an individual and societal level.
School is one of the most important institutions for socialisation. It influences the adoption of social and cultural patterns of behaviour. Children adopt, select, form and imitate attitudes, values and norms from school that they bring to their homes and society. So part of who Mutami is now was moulded at Loreto.
Before going to Loreto in 2002 for Form 1, she had passed her Grade 7 at Fitchlea Primary School in Kwekwe — her home town — with eight units. Although she went to a low-density primary school in Kwekwe, she lived in Mbizo Section 10 township. Her father was Zanu PF and had high-level links, including to Mnangagwa, which is how she came to know him. When her father died, her family fortunes changed before Mnangagwa stepped in.
In a bid to retrace Mutami’s footsteps to understand her socialisation and background in the context of her allegations against Mnangagwa, The NewsHawks went out to talk to various people about her past.
In the process, we caught up with Mutami’s former boyfriend at Loreto Mission School who dated her in 2004 when she was in Form 3 until she completed her “O” Level. That is the year she said she was raped by Mnangagwa.
Her ex-boyfriend from Gweru is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, running a haulage truck company. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution and “for the sake of my peace”.
In an open and frank discussion, the 34-year-old man, short and dark in complexion, chronicled his experiences with Mutami.
“I first met Susan in 2004 when I was in Form 4; she was a stream behind us. We were in the same sports house group called Winter Halder. She was a good 400 metres athlete and I was in the discus sporting discipline,” Mutami’s childhood boyfriend narrates.
“She was very good in athletics — the 400 metres race — hence in 2003 we both reached provincial sports finals which were held at Chaplin High School in Gweru.”
Their sports house, Winter Halder (blue T-shirts), was named after a Catholic priest, Father Winter Walder, who once served at Loreto Mission. Other Loreto sporting houses during Mutami’s time were Tambaoga, which donned green T-shirts, Top-toppers (yellow T-shirts) and Possent (red T-shirts).
“Susan was good in athletics. Her nickname was Wozoli, which she got after she outpaced competitors in a 400 metres race at Wozoli Secondary School out there in Silobela,” Mutami’s ex-school lover says.
Wozoli Secondary is located in Makhohliso Village in Silobela, Kwekwe district, in the Midlands.
Mutami’s high school lover said last week’s allegations of rape and sexual abuse — by Mnangagwa — are now making sense and helping him understand her behaviour back then at school.
“When we were going out, her behaviour was erratic. Sometimes she would become silent in the middle of a conversation like a person in deep thought and from nowhere she would start crying. I could not understand her at the time; it was strange, but after these allegations she has made against some people it now makes sense to me,” he said.
“Again, towards the end of each school term when everyone was excited to be going home for the holidays, she would have a completely different mood marked with sadness and anxiety.
“During those days, she would be very aggressive and we would break up often in our relationship. Sometimes we would break up twice in a week and make amends later. Days before school holidays were the most difficult in our relationship.”
The ex-boyfriend says that at the time, Mutami spoke about so many things he did not understand, but which now make sense after her recent Twitter Spaces public engagement.
“She at one time told me that we could not meet during holidays because she had a personal bodyguard who watched all her movements. During those days Mutami also told me that during the holidays she would be very busy because there was a farm she would go to work at in order to raise school fees. It did not make sense because our fees were so high that working at a farm for one month would not raise even a quarter of it,” he says.
Last week, Mutami said she stayed on Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe, where she allegedly suffered abuse from him and his wife, First Lady Auxillia.
The ex-boyfriend revealed that he once accidentally bumped on Mutami in Redcliff where Mnangagwa owns Redcliff Hotel. The hotel was previously owned by Ziscosteel before it was sold to him for a song.
“When I met her (in Redcliff) she was so unsettled. She would look numerous times over her shoulder during the brief encounter. Besides, her language at school was also crude and immoral as she would claim that, in terms of sex, she had ‘big boys’ who did the business on her,” the former boyfriend says.
He adds: “She was living a double life. A happy life on her face, but inside you could feel that she was an emotional wreck and boiling. Now that she has exploded, I really understand why and hope she may get better. She was also one person who would not forgive. If you wronged her, the misunderstanding would not end. As for me, I had to deal with that by apologising a hundred times.”
The ex-lover also spoke of how he would be spoilt by Mutami with gifts like perfumes, towels, snacks and cash at school and during weekend entertainment gigs in the juniors’ dining hall.
“We were a power couple of bling at school,” he said.
The NewsHawks found this interesting because one of Mutami’s classmates — a lady — says when she arrived at Loreto High, she was one of those kids who clearly appeared to be coming from a disadvantaged family.
During her Form 1 and 2 years, she appeared like someone form a deprived family. Things changed when she was in Form 3 when she started living a bling lifestyle at school.
Mutami’s former classmates at Loreto High speak of Mnangagwa — her “sekuru” — uncle – visiting the school to see and spend time with her.
The rumour at the time was that Mnangagwa was dating her mother. Some, however, suspected that he was simultaneously having love affairs with mother and daughter. As time went by, it emerged Mnangagwa was actually having a relationship with her as a minor, which is what she now claims.
Research on victims and survivors of rape shed light on Mutami’s behaviour as a child and adult after the sexual assault ordeal.
A journal article by Professor Matthew Tull, who works in the department of psychology at the University of Toledo, Ohio, United States, titled Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, provides insight into the behaviour of victims and survivors of rape.
“A person who has been sexually assaulted will generally experience high levels of distress immediately afterward. The trauma of being assaulted can lead to fear, anger, guilt, anxiety, and sadness,” it says.
According to her high school ex-boyfriend, Mutami behaved exactly like that.Tull also describes other behavioural patterns of survivors of rape: “They might feel as though they are always in danger or need to always be on guard, and may distrust other people.”
That has been part of Mutami’s behaviour.
Another journal article by Melissa Hall and Joshua Hall titled The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counselling Implications explains the issue. Mutami said she lost one of her twin babies she conceived in a relationship with independent legislator Temba Mliswa due to stress.
The journal validates that stress can have long-time effects on childhood sexual abuse on adults.
Melissa is a doctoral candidate in counsellor education at the University of Arkansas. She has experience working with at-risk children, adolescents, and their families. Her research interests include marital satisfaction, the role of family in child and adolescent behaviour and foster care.
Joshua is a licenced social worker. He has clinical experience working with at-risk populations, including foster youth. His research interests include foster care, social welfare policy, child and adolescent behaviour.
The two write: “Stress and anxiety are often long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Childhood sexual abuse can be frightening and cause stress long after the experience or experiences have ceased. Many times survivors experience chronic anxiety, tension, anxiety attacks, and phobias”.
Other researchers note that after rape, a survivor loses self-esteem and, in the process, may indulge in a lifestyle marked with flamboyance in order to quickly recover from shock and depression.
Mutami appears to be leading a life of compensatory behaviour as a result of her alleged abuse. In psychology, compensation is a strategy in which one covers up, consciously or unconsciously, weaknesses, frustrations, desires, or feelings of inadequacy or incompetence in one life aspect through overdrive indulgence or excellence in another area. Compensation can cover up either real or imagined deficiencies and personal or physical inferiority. Positive compensations may help one to overcome one’s difficulties.
On the other hand, negative compensations do not, which results in a reinforced feeling of inferiority. In her life, Mutami has dated eminent citizens in Zimbabwean society, suggesting compensation.
Her former boyfriends include high-profile people such as the late retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo, who announced the 2017 military coup which brought Mnangagwa to power and later became Foreign Affairs minister; Mliswa, an independent MP and former Zanu PF provincial chair; Kenneth Musanhi, Zanu PF politburo member and businessman; Mines deputy minister and tycoon Polite Kambamura; and Judicial Service Commission secretary Walter Chikwana, among others .
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, one of the greatest and lasting impacts of rape on victims is trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Rape is not just physical violence, it is also mental or psychological violence. It is not easily forgotten,” it says.