Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Death of Dr Mvungi: Not politics, not just street crime

16th November 2013
  The law profession can be a dangerous place

As the country prepares for funerals and burial of the late Dr Sengondo Mvungi this weekend up to Monday, the rest of us are locked in reflection on his life and career, to discover how rich it was and the gap that remains.

One thing, however, is certain that the late Dr Mvungi was a multifaceted individual, capable of playing a number of roles in an almost simultaneous fashion, such that a person who knows him from one of his three trade mark areas would have difficulty to figure out how he gets time for the other issues, seeing how deeply involved he is. That is what characterized a hardworking, totally committed individual, working in a sphere of society for the love of it.

Admittedly we have a few or perhaps a wide scatter of individuals with that caliber, but they scarcely ever can so evenly distribute themselves, and so effectively accomplish near-wonders in each of those areas.

Most of the while people become marginally engaged in auxiliary activities, not having the time, the mental depth and the physical energy to become like the late Dr Mvungi, a keen and in-depth university administrator, a cornerstone of the leadership in NCCR-Mageuzi, and a veteran advocate of the High Court, as director of South Law Chambers. And lately of course, while appearing less and less in legal practice, he was a constitutional elder, among his peers.

Among those who shall grieve the departure of Dr Mvungi most intensely is the fraternity around the format of the new constitution as produced in the first draft, where it was likely, in all expectations, that Dr Mvungi would be among those who would energetically pursue its design, aims and objectives, inside and outside the commission.

With his departure that fraternity will still have a lot of sympathizers for that cause, but scarcely an organizer and a militant of the late Dr Mvungi’s caliber.
That is where his departure will be most keenly felt in the public arena, where as the bard, William Shakespeare remarked, each has a role to play, some happy, and some obviously sad.
There is however an aspect in the funerals and eventual burial of the late Dr Mvungi that needs to be taken note of, that we should accept that this was a work of thugs tormenting the lives of families day in, day out.

Nearly everything that has been unearthed so far concerning that attack point to a low level act of robbery, of people not having the guts or the culture of staging a bank robbery and instead a crowd of them break into a person’s house, expecting to find a treasure of sorts, there.
Now that they face a murder case, for all intents and purposes, this matter may have to be hushed up for a while, but it needs to be underlined it was a work of thugs, not much else.

This insistence is not beside the point in the circumstances because rumors are being raised left, right and centre that there was an elimination plot on account of his well known militancy on the issue of Tanganyika.

 Even if there is a likelihood the matter could have been the subject of political battles in the streets, no one should exaggerate the level of contention in the country concerning that issue.

Vexing issues like the procedure of resolving the wrangle of membership and composition of the Constituent Assembly had already been resolved, and little serious political dispute or danger existed in that area. The cause of Dr Mvungi’s attack has to be located elsewhere.

In the rumors concerning that dastardly event, some elements that don’t seem to fall into place include the police suspicion that the house guard of the late lawyer and academic administrator was involved in the break in plot, which isn’t how an ordinary break in plot is organized.

Ordinarily he would be overpowered or worse, suffer an attack himself before the robbers proceed – or take note of his outings and comings to discover a moment of his absence, etc. When a guard can be purchased to facilitate that sort of attack, there might be big money there.

While a number of political commentators have focused on the media and political environment around the late Dr Mvungi, with at least one senior member of this profession declaring that it is a case of another attack on a journalist, it is Dr Mvungi’s legal profession where it is definitely easier to smell a rat.

The robbers did not seem to have advance knowledge of any significant amount of money in the house, and nothing seems to have been noticed in that direction, but rather they were targeting the laptop and mobile phone, and possibly intended to put him out of action as well.
There is no room here to try and upstage the police investigation, and it is also unlikely that a third party may come into view with an explanation of this event, but the legal field is a suspect.

There was in the past an attack and killing of the late Prof. Jwani Mwaikusa who used to work with Mkono Advocates, a well known law firm in the city, and it turned out it had to do with his being hired to represent a company operator, having power of attorney, thus having the last word, over the fellow’s own employees.
They decided to bump off the late attorney to see where their boss would go from there, except returning power of decisions to themselves, exactly those he does not trust, but they believe it is their right to be trusted.

 In like manner an advocate may stand between a businessman, a rascal and thug in impeccable business suit, and one million dollars that would be his for keeps – if the advocate won’t meddle in the issue on behalf of a rival, etc.

While the work of professional advocates, lawyers and solicitors is usually safe, that of paralegals all over the country is fraught with dangers on personal safety.
In many cases the paralegals are involved in giving an opinion after listening to two parties to a case, and easily determining the negative side, thus issuing a position that may be taken up by a local government or even the police, to deny some unjust fellow of property that is being twisted from a law abiding individual, whether a business associate or a relative.

Culture knows of such rascals and the danger they pose to law officials including advocates, as in the Kiswahili expression, ‘mwenye nguvu mpishe.’
Knowing the late Dr Mvungi, he was unlikely to be the sort of person to say ‘yes sir’ if a rascal turned up and said ‘lay off this case, law hound, or else,’ to adapt the title of a thriller by James Hadley Chase.

The law profession is fraught with dangers, and those grabbing millions of dollars illegally can pay a small group of thugs to take care of an intruder standing for the law, knowing they will also bribe in the process of investigation and nothing will be said on the matter.
As for the goat butchers apparently collected and thrust into that house for attack, assurances they were given about safety are likely to vaporize, in jointly facing a well publicized case of murder. Life is cruel.