Tonderai Ndira

Last updated

Tonderai Ndira
DiedBetween 13 and 22 May 2008
Cause of deathmurdered
Body discovered morgue at Parirenyatwa Hospital [1]
Resting place Warren Hills Cemetery, Harare, Zimbabwe
Residence Mabvuku, Zimbabwe
Nationality Zimbabwean
Known for political activist

Tonderai Ndira (1975/1976 – May 2008) was a Zimbabwe and a Movement for Democratic Change party member murdered in May 2008. [2] [3]

Zimbabwe Republic in southern Africa

Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Harare and the second largest being Bulawayo. A country of roughly 16 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used.

Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai Political party in Zimbabwe

The Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC–T) was a center-left political party and was the main opposition party in the House of Assembly of Zimbabwe ahead of the 2018 elections. After the split of the original Movement for Democratic Change in 2005, the MDC–T remained the major opposition faction, while a smaller faction, the Movement for Democratic Change – Ncube, or MDC–N, was led by Welshman Ncube. The two parties re-united in 2018 under the original name, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Ndira lived in the township of Mabvuku and Tafara, east of the capital, Harare, and was a "prominent activist" [4] member of the Movement for Democratic Change. He was described as a human rights campaigner and as "a youth activist who went around the country holding workshops and teaching people their rights". [5] He had a wife and three young children.

Mabvuku Place

Mabvuku is a high density suburb some 17 km east of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. It is classified as a suburb or township of Harare, with Harare City Council constituting local government. It encompasses in particular the townships that include Old Mabvuku and New Mabvuku, and more generally Old Tafara, and New Tafara. Chizhanje is a former dormitory suburb of hostels very close to Old Mabvuku that is nominally part of Mabvuku.

He was arrested on thirty-five occasions, and was reportedly described by his followers as "Zimbabwe's Steve Biko". [6] [7] [8]

Steve Biko South African anti-apartheid activist

Bantu Stephen Biko was a South African anti-apartheid activist. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he was at the forefront of a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. His ideas were articulated in a series of articles published under the pseudonym Frank Talk.

The Sunday Herald reported:

"Ndira was legendary in Zimbabwe for his exploits. Once when police were hot on his tail, he famously joined the police search for himself, establishing himself at the heart of the search party without the police ever realising." [6]

Ndira was accused of taking part in an assault in 2006 against MP Trudy Stevenson and three other members of the splinter pro-Senate MDC-M. [9] He and several others were arrested, then released without charge due to lack of evidence. The MDC accused Zanu-PF of being behind the attack. [10]

Lottie Gertrude Stevenson was a Zimbabwean ambassador and politician. She was a member of parliament for Harare North in the Parliament of Zimbabwe. She was also a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Zimbabwe, the first white woman to be voted into the MDC National Executive and, during her tenure, the country's only white female Member of Parliament.

He was abducted from his home by ten armed men early in the morning of 13 May 2008, in the context of campaigning between the two rounds of the 2008 presidential election. His body was found later in the month; it was reported that he had been shot in the heart, with multiple stab wounds, his eyes gouged, his tongue cut out, and his neck, skull, jaw and knuckles broken. [5] [6] The Sunday Herald stated that he had been "murdered by government death squads", and added:

Politics of Zimbabwe

The politics of Zimbabwe takes place in a framework of a full presidential republic, whereby the President is the head of state and government as organized by the 2013 Constitution. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The status of Zimbabwean politics has been thrown into question by a 2017 coup.

Death squad

A death squad is an armed group that conducts extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances of persons for the purposes such as political repression, assassinations, torture, genocide, ethnic cleansing, or revolutionary terror. These killings are often conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy of the killers' identities. Death squads may have the support of domestic or foreign governments. They may comprise a secret police force, paramilitary militia groups, government soldiers, policemen, or combinations thereof. They may also be organized as vigilantes. When death squads are not controlled by the state, they may consist of insurgent forces or organized crime, such as the ones used by cartels.

"Ndira's fate has been shared by scores of opposition supporters in recent weeks. He was targeted because of his celebrity and because fear is exactly what the generals and security chiefs of 84-year-old Mugabe are counting on, as they try to overturn the first-round defeat that saw at least 56% of Zimbabwe's people vote against the only head of state they have known since independence." [6]

The autopsy's preliminary report failed to identify a cause of death. It showed that the damage to Ndira's body was due to decomposition rather than torture; due to the amount of time necessary for this degree of decomposition, it was believed that he was killed promptly after being abducted. [1]


Following the discovery of his body on 22 May, Ndira was buried at Warren Hills Cemetery in Harare three days later. MDC party president Morgan Tsvangirai, who had returned to Zimbabwe shortly beforehand, presided over the funeral and described Ndira's killing as "a clear testimony of the callousness of this regime", vowing to defeat Mugabe in the election despite such violence. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 Lance Guma, "Zimbabwe: MdDC Activist Tonderai Ndira Given Heroes Burial", SW Africa Radio, 26 May 2008
  2. "Another violent loss for Zimbabwe's opposition", Globe and Mail, 24 May 2008
  3. "Another Zimbabwean Opposition Activist Found Dead After Abduction", Voice of America, 21 May 2008
  4. "A spiral of despair – and a ruler hellbent on destroying his country". The Independent . 7 June 2008.
  5. 1 2 "Death of a Zimbabwean activist", BBC, 23 May 2008
  6. 1 2 3 4 "The grip of fear: Military reign of terror as Zimbabwe prepares for elections". Sunday Herald . 8 June 2008.
  7. "'We called him our Steve Biko'". The Times (South Africa). 1 June 2008. Archived from the original on 2 June 2008.
  8. "Tonderai Ndira – Zimbabwe's Steve Biko". The Zimbabwean . 23 May 2008.
  9. "MP Trudy Stevenson and three colleagues severely assaulted". 4 July 2006.
  10. "Zanu behind violence – MDC", The Zimbabwean, 13 July 2006