BULAWAYO – Ernest Tekere, a former Central Intelligence Organisation operative who planted cameras in the bedroom of Archbishop Pius Ncube – and captured the Catholic priest romping with his personal assistant – has died.
Tekere was found hanged in his office at a Bulawayo security company he ran on Josiah Tongogara Street between 12th and 13th Avenue just before midday on Monday.
Friends said it was the third time he had attempted to take his life – and this time he succeeded.
Police cordoned off the Home Guard offices and removed his body for a post-mortem as wailing relatives gathered.
Tekere’s family was hostile to journalists, but a family member – speaking on condition they were not named – said he killed himself shortly after holding a business meeting.
“He was generally a nice guy but he seemed to have these demons following him. The last time he attempted to kill himself was last September, and that was his second attempt. You really can’t say he had any problems because he had many houses, many cars and his children, two of them are doctors. I think you can only explain this in terms of spirits, he was in the CIO and one guesses they did terrible things there,” the relative said.
Two late former ministers – Enos Nkala and Welshman Mabhena – once identified Tekere as a key player during the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland.
Mabhena remembered being arrested alongside liberation stalwart Nevison Nyashanu on charges of plotting to topple the government in the 1980s. They were detained at Eiffel Flats, where Tekere – then in charge of the CIO in Kadoma – was their interrogator.
Mabhena said Tekere was later transferred to Bulawayo.
“Tekere featured during Gukurahundi,” Nkala said in a 2007 interview. “He was a CIO operative and I am prepared to confirm that. If he continues denying it, I will reveal more.”
Tekere was at the heart of a July 2007 operation by the CIO targeting Ncube – a strident critic of the Zanu PF government. Cameras were planted inside his bedroom and captured the cleric – who had taken a celibacy vow – having sex with his married assistant.
Pictures and a grainy video of the sex escapades dominated state media for weeks, and Ncube was eventually hauled in by the Vatican – a victory for then President Robert Mugabe who had managed to silence one of his harshest critics.
Just months earlier, Ncube had said he was ready to face bullets in anti-government protests to help bring democratic change in Zimbabwe, which was then – as is now – mired in a deep economic and political crisis.
Rosemary Sibanda, the woman alleged to have been in the sex videos with Ncube, died from pneumonia just a year later in May 2008.
Ncube, now 74, returned from the Vatican in 2016 and retreated to the Marist Brothers Seminary in Dete, Hwange district. From there, he began work on translating the 700-page Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church into iSiNdebele with other priests.
In an interview, Ncube once spoke of how he wakes up at 4.30AM everyday and prays until 7AM, before doing the same every night between 7PM and 8PM.
“It’s not about being anti-government or pro-government but it’s about seeing to it that people’s expectations have been fulfilled. Zimbabwe is a rich country, we have all the minerals in the world, except maybe for oil, but to see our people suffering like they are, is wrong,” Ncube said in the 2016 interview following his return.