by K Cheryl Mwanza| Episode #5
Gloria Vanhuvangu looked out the window, came back to her sofa then thirty seconds later she was up on her feet again and looking out the window. Some called it a mother’s intuition, she called it the ancestor’s warning, but whatever it was, it was telling her that her daughter was in trouble and had been for the last three days.
At first, she had comforted herself by saying that it was because her daughter had eloped. After all, nothing ruined a budding romance like elopement. But she just couldn’t shake the feeling that something much more threatening than a dying romance had happened to her daughter.
She got up again, looked out the window and this time around she felt dizzy when she saw no one show up by the gate. She stumbled, then fell into the closest sofa. It took her a time to get up, and by the time she was back on her feet her husband was looking at her with worry.
“Amai, what is the matter with you these days?” He asked sitting next to her.
“Nothing?” He exclaimed, “You haven’t been sleeping well. You are talking in your sleep and you are constantly looking outside the window. What is happening?”
“There is something I should tell you. Please don’t be angry with me. I’m only telling you because I believe our daughter is in grave danger.”
“The ancestor’s warning.” She said suddenly trembling.
“What are you talking about, Amai.”
“She did WHAT?!”
“That’s beside the point, baba-“
“REALLY! BECAUSE I THINK THAT’STHE POINT!!!” He jumped up the veins in his neck throbbing. “You told me she was with tete Mai Sandy when all this while you knew she had eloped? Did you know the guy? Did you bless whatever it was they were doing?”
“Baba, please-” She was cut short with a stinging slap from her husband.
Tears trickled down her face as she rubbed the sting away. Her husband was beyond furious now. Laura was the apple of his eye, the reason why he got up in the morning. He had sacrificed everything to give her a life better than his. His wife must be joking! His daughter was better than that.
“My daughter did what?” He hissed. “Here, call Mai Sandy and get her here. Call everyone who knew of that little relationship and get them here!”
“Makadini tete.” Ronald ‘Ronny’ Zvoushe said as he approached Mrs. Ziko. “Is everything alright?” He asked.
“Well, son, we cannot discuss delicate matters on a busy busstop like this one.” She said walking forward, toward his house.
“What is it, tete? Is Laura fine?”
She stopped short in her tracks as she turned to face him with an expressionless face. “What do you mean by that boy?”
“Isn’t Laura here?”
“Here as in where?”
“Don’t be stupid!” She snapped. “Is she or isn’t she here?”
“If here means with me, then no she is not with me. I haven’t seen here in four days.” He grabbed his waist with both hands then said, “When I last saw her, she said she was pregnant. We had a little disagreement, things were said and she was upset. She walked out on me and I haven’t seen her.”
“Have you talked to her?” She asked as panic began to creep in. “At all?”
“No. I tried her phone all day yesterday. I figured she didn’t want to talk to me as yet and I was giving her some space. Why would you think she was here?”
“She told me she was eloping.” Her aunt murmured. “I hadn’t heard from her in a while, and I decided-“, She didn’t finish her sentence as her phone rang.
She listened but wasn’t given a chance to speak herself. She looked up at Ronny after the phone was disconnected with fear written all over her face. She swallowed hard as she repeated what her brother’s wife had said. Ronny initially put up a fight, but in the end he went along with Mrs. Ziko. He called his mother while he was on his way to Laura’s house, and her mother got through to her father. They followed after him soon afterwards.
Mr. Vanhuvangu paced to and fro unable to control the anger that was brewing inside of him. His wife was now stuck in a corner silently sobbing. He stopped pacing around when he heard his gate open. He peaked through the window, then saw Mrs. Ziko coming in with three people he didn’t know. He went to meet them at the door with his fists clenched.
He opened the door, looked around at everyone, then finally his eyes rested on his younger sister, She swallowed hard as she cleared her throat to speak.
“This is Mr. and Mrs. Zvoushe. This is their son, Ronny-“
“The man who ruined my daughter’s life?”
“Ruined?” Mr. Zvoushe cut in. “What exactly do you think your daughter was?”
“Dear, keep quiet please.” Mrs. Zvoushe said quietly. “We are here because you thought your daughter was with us, right? Well, she’s not.”
“What do you mean she’s not? My wife told me she eloped to your son.” He spat out pointing his finger accusingly at Ronny. “Where is my daughter, young man?”
They heard footsteps behind them, they all momentarily calmed down and waited to see who was coming their way. Mr. and Mrs. Zvoushe were taken aback when they saw Doctor Saidi appearing. The doctor was taken aback as well and stumbled backwards. He turned to a woman, in a black form fitting two piece pants suit that was flared at the bottom, he was with then she stepped in front.
She cleared her voice then said flashing her badge, “I’m Detective Inspector Qiniso Dhlamini with Harare CID: Homicide.”
“Homicide?” Mr. Zvoushe asked looking at the doctor. “What is she talking about?”
“Mr. Vanhuvangu, we regret to inform you that your daughter is dead.” Dhlamini answered.
“Die-“, Mr. Vanhuvangu choked on his saliva as he grabbed his stomach. “Dead?”
“She was murdered three days ago. Her body was found in a house in Westlea-“
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Mr. Zvoushe demanded looking toward the doctor.
“An open homicide investigation is not up for discussion with just anyone, sir.” Dhlamini looked at Mr. Vanhuvangu, “Mind if we come in and ask a few questions?”
He didn’t answer. Instead he just slammed the door in everyone’s face. The doctor turned to face Dhlamini who gently shook her hand.
“What do you mean murdered?” Mrs. Ziko asked trembling. “That’s impossible.”
“Maud Ziko. I’m her aunt, the sister of her father-detective?”
“We found her three days ago at a house in Westlea-“
“What was she doing in Westlea?” Ronny asked.
“See! She was a loose woman.” Mr. Zvoushe exclaimed. “I can’t believe you were stupid enough to almost father a child with her!”
“Dear, we don’t speak ill of the dead.” His wife said. “Respect her and her family. Detective you were saying something?”
“Who does your husband think he is?” Mrs. Ziko demanded. “He is a bloody bastard. If he had taught his son any better, maybe he would have found a bitch like you!”
“A bitch? You are calling my wife a bitch?”
“She tolerates a pig like you! I have even more befitting words but I’m being respectful because my niece has just died.” She said although the air about her was that of violent confrontation.
“Everyone shut the hell up!” Dhlamini said putting her foot down. “We are finishing this little party at the police station. Anyone with objections hands up and I will gladly cuff you. If not, asambeni.” She said and everyone walked on without any objections. She turned to the doctor then said, “Go and wait with them for a while. I will be right out.”
As the doctor disappeared behind the house, Detective Dhlamini opened the door in search of Mr. and Mrs. Vanhuvangu. She found them huddled together crying. She had done this a number of times, but seeing a family cry for their beloved still made her raw inside all the time. She bit her teeth to stop herself from crying as she walked toward the sofa where husband and wife were bundled up.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice was cracking up under the emotional stress.
The father looked up, Dhlamini’s own tears almost fell. He wiped his nose, and patting his wife on the back, he began talking, “What happed to my daughter?”
“I’m really sorry, sir. We as a department are doing all that we can to get the person who did this to your daughter.”
“It took you THREE days to come and inform us. THREE DAYS!”
“Your daughter didn’t have any identification on her.” She answered softy. “No one in the missing person database matched her physical description. We worked with the little that we had to put a name-“Dhlamini swallowed then continued, “I know this is hard but I still want you to talk to you.”
“The last thing I said to my daughter-“, the mother began looking into a distance as fresh tears flooded her eyes. “I told her to do whatever it took to stay with Ronny. If I had looked after my own daughter-“
“This is not your fault, Mrs. Vanhuvangu. You had no idea something like this was going to happen.”
“A mother should know, detective. What kind of a parent am I? My daughter wasn’t home for three days and I didn’t even report her to the police.”
“You thought your daughter had eloped. How could you have known otherwise?” She asked in a soothing voice.
“Who did this to my little girl?” The father asked again.
“That is what we are trying to figure out. It seemed your daughter was selected at random. She met her killer on the very day she went missing. So, on the day of her elopement where did she go?”
“She went to Kuwadzana straight. I don’t think she ever went anywhere.” Mrs. Vanhuvangu answered. “I spoke to Amai Ziko and she said that she would personally go and deliver Laura to her in laws.”
“What time was that?”
“Around one in the afternoon.”
“When did you last speak to her?”
“Before she left this place. She promised she was going to call if anything was wrong. I took her silence to mean all was well with her.” She said then began sobbing out loud.
“Who would do something like this to my daughter?” Mr. Vanhuvangu asked again.
“We will figure this out, Mr. Vanhuvangu. This is my promise to you.” She then got up and said, “You should come with me to the station to identify the body.”
Husband and wife looked at each other. They embraced tearfully as they were about to be confronted by a parent’s worst nightmare.