I see that Sky News had an article on the photographs being circulated by email that claim to be from within Mugabe’s mansion.

They have picked up on the fact that I say that photos are NOT Mugabe’s mansion as Google Earth plainly shows there is no outside swimming pool, but the photographs show an outside pool.

You, of course, are free to make up your own mind…

Take care.


Robert Mugabe’s formative years were spent as the fatherless, friendless favourite of a cold, religious mother, writes Heidi Holland in her new book.

Robert Mugabe’s only surviving brother, Donato, (now deceased) is sitting on an upturned plastic milk crate on the veranda of his house at Kutama, about 100km southwest of Harare, the village where he and his siblings were born and where Donato has remained all his life.

He is a large, white-haired man with a lot of laughter lines on his face, but he looks decidedly wary on this occasion.

He and his wife, Evelyn, invite me indoors reluctantly. Huddled together on the sofa, they are silent and unblinking.

I am acutely aware that few, if any, journalists have been to talk to Donato before me, possibly because we were collectively not interested enough to uncover Mugabe’s ancestry in earlier years when the going was good, but later on because it’s dangerous to ask leading questions in Zimbabwe, let alone to walk into the middle of the terrorised country’s first family.

Donato begins by telling me that for some years during his schooling at Kutama, Robert Mugabe lived with his maternal grandparents “so that he could be watched carefully by them”, he says.

“He was a good boy and he loved to play tennis at school. That was what he did besides reading. He passed teacher training in 1942 but he did not show off.

“He was quiet and never harsh to anyone. He was always determined. Whatever he wants to do, he can do.

“He never recognised the word ‘no’; it was not in his language. He went to Ghana for teacher training and sent letters to our mother.”

His wife says something to him in Shona and he suddenly bellows: “Sally came from Ghana.”

Looking delighted at the thought of his late sister-in-law, his eyes stare into space again for a while.

“She was a lovely person. It was a happy marriage,” he remembers. “It was a happy time in Zimbabwe.”

When I mention Grace, Mugabe’s second wife, Donato nods sagely, offering no comment at first.

“She gave him children,” he says on reflection, nodding slowly.

Behind the sofa is the large official portrait of Mugabe that hangs in government offices and most public spaces in Zimbabwe.

Alongside the couple on a table is a framed, unsmiling photograph of Bona, the president’s late mother, her unusually elongated head wrapped in a scarf that typifies the attire of local rural women.

Robert Mugabe adored his mother. He attended Mass with her every day and twice on Sundays in the years following the deaths of two of his older siblings.

Both of the dead children were boys. One of them, Michael, was the acknowledged family favourite, loved by everyone in the village, not only the Mugabes.

Donato’s description of Michael’s cause of death as “something he ate” is typical of the bare details on offer, not only because the man sitting in front of me does not entirely trust me with his story but because, in the ’20s, life at Kutama was austere. People endured, they fell ill, and they died.

Donato, who was christened Dhonandho and called Donald at school, does not remember how or why Raphael, the second son of the family, died.

Their father, Gabriel, left home after Michael’s death, says Donato. “He went to live in Bulawayo, where he could get work, and he remarried there. He was a very good carpenter. Robert remained cross with him because he would never help us with our schooling. He came back later with three children, and died at Kutama.”

That was a lot of loss for Bona to bear. After her husband left, she became depressed by all accounts. She could not cope alone.

Robert, although only 10 at the time, stepped into the breach.

Suddenly the oldest child, he became his mother’s favourite.

It was he who set about trying to restore the light in her eyes, to be what she wanted him to be.

He could not forgive his father the hurt he had inflicted because Robert’s life was so difficult in Gabriel’s absence.

“The other children used to tease him and he became lonely. He didn’t seem to care, but maybe he did,” muses Donato.

“Our mother protected Robert from everyone, especially me, but he himself did not fight. Our (half) sister Bridget was the one who fought with me. She was the strongest one – never Robert. She had the courage of a man, not like him.”

The Catholic head at Kutama was an Irish priest, Father Jerome O’Hea, a gifted teacher and an exceptional man.

He soon noticed the solemn, talented Robert Mugabe and began to nurture him as a scholar and a credit to St Francis Xavier.

Donato remembers Robert “hanging around” outside the priest’s classroom, ever eager to help the man (who had probably become a substitute father) by carrying his books or cleaning the blackboard.

Unlike the happy-go-lucky Donato, Robert’s childhood had effectively ended when his brothers died and his father left home.

He found solace from the pressures of Bona’s disappointment and expectations in books, not in other children.

An introspective child who may have been neglected in babyhood by a burdened mother and therefore failed to develop confidence in himself, Robert began to adopt a lofty attitude towards his siblings and fellow students.

As Bona’s special one in the family and an increasing favourite among teachers in the classroom, he focused all his energy on being “a good boy”.

“Robert was always a loner,” recalls Donato. “He was a person who was not interested in having many friends. His books were his only friends. I was the opposite, talking to everybody and even fighting with some of them. I could run fast but Robert could not, he was lazy, just reading all the time.

“When he went to herd cattle because our grandfather told him to go out into the fields, he would take his book. He held the book in one hand and the whip in the other. It was a strange thing for all of us to see. When the cattle were settled, he would sometimes sit in the shade under the trees.

“Sometimes, if our grandfather asked him to get something for supper, he would catch many birds, especially doves. He would cut sticks, tie them with grass and put some soft leaves inside with some seeds. This nest he would put near the river and wait quietly, reading his book.

“When the birds came to drink water, he could catch them. He was the only one who could get the birds because he could sit very quietly and that’s why grandfather said it was his job.”

Robert was different from his siblings in other ways, too.

He loved to be at school even when his brothers and sisters were home playing.

Their house was so close to St Francis Xavier College that he could come and go as he pleased.

“He used to be very serious and not always happy,” recalls Donato. “He seemed to have matters to think about.”

Then came the prestigious endorsement of Robert’s scholarly efforts that was to have profound implications not only for his life but for the future of the country he would lead to disaster six decades later.

“Our mother explained to us that Father O’Hea had told her that Robert was going to be an important somebody, a leader.

“Our mother believed Father O’Hea had brought this message from God; she took it very seriously. When the food was short she would say, ‘Give it to Robert.’ But he would refuse and say he didn’t want to eat.

“A doctor (academic) from Salisbury (Harare) came to talk to Robert about his lessons. We laughed at him because he was so serious, until he became cross. Then our mother told us to leave him alone. She believed he was a holy child and she wanted him to become a priest.”

Father O’Hea went out of his way to help the shy child he described as having “unusual gravitas”.

With “an exceptional mind and an exceptional heart”, the boy merited extraordinary attention, he believed.

Promoted to the next class as soon as he could hold his own, Robert was always younger and physically smaller than his contemporaries.

His greatest desire was to please his mother and to earn praise from Father O’Hea.

However, the favouritism of two such important adults in a tight community made him increasingly the butt of jokes among his peers, including his brothers and sisters.

As the children teased him mercilessly, Robert became defiant and presumably angry.

With his reputation for cowardice well established, he was constantly mocked for having his nose in a book by the village children who had not scored highly enough for ongoing study.

As he grew up, Robert got his sense of who he was from Bona, a cold, stern nun of a mother.

She left him in no doubt that he was to be the achiever who rose above everyone else; the leader chosen by God himself.

She may also have viewed him as a substitute for her own failure to serve the church as she and her parents had intended.

Aloneness and the inability to co-operate are the dominant features in all the descriptions of Mugabe’s childhood.

Considering all the available evidence, Mugabe seems to have been driven from very early on by a determination to show those who scorned him and his books, who called him a mummy’s boy and a coward, that he was, nevertheless, the king of the castle – and that they would all have to acknowledge it sooner or later.

Instead of seeing their taunts accurately as sibling rivalry and jealousy from less-accomplished classmates, Robert seems to have felt persecuted, bitterly resenting the failure of everyone around him to appreciate his difficult role in a fatherless family.

“He said he did not have time to play and we always laughed when he said big stuff about himself,” admits Donato.

What the young Robert achieved by single-mindedly pursuing his studies at school, and for years after he left Kutama, was truly remarkable.

To become one of the most erudite Africans in the country from the humblest of beginnings – with no electric light to switch on at home and read by, seldom enough food to eat, and little support except from those whose ambitions robbed him of childish things – was a triumph of discipline over adversity in the classic Jesuit style.

Against the odds, the angry little boy with no friends did become the king of the castle.

But Robert’s diligence was also his way of coping with a universe he believed to be against him.

Despite periods of contentment, he was to be consumed by distrust for the rest of his life.

· Holland’s book, “Dinner with Mugabe”, is due to be released by Penguin Books this month.



I have tried for two days to do this posting, and try as I might, I cannot get the html code for these articles to behave! Very frustrating.

So rather than post the articles, I will post the links instead.

Very interesting reading – and proof, at least, to me, that there are people living in various places around the world that the story of the Zimbabweans crisis is slowly, ever so slowly, getting through.

Andre Carrel – The Zimbabwe Experience – Part One

Andre Carrel – The Zimbabwe Experience – Part Two

Andre Carrel – The Zimbabwe Experience – Part Three

Andre Carrel – The Zimbabwe Experience – Part Four

Andre Carrel – The Zimbabwe Experience – Conclusion

Take care.



Police at OR Tambo International Airport have seized a consignment of handguns which might have belonged to the Zimbabwean police force. The weapons – 50 CZ 75 9mm parabellum handguns – were found yesterday in the cargo hold of a passenger plane, packed in a simple wooden padlocked box which had “Zimbabwe contingent” scrawled across it. The plane had stopped over in Zimbabwe. Most of the weapons, which appeared secondhand, had ZRP stamped on them with an additional serial number. According to a security expert, ZRP stands for Zimbabwe Republic Police. The firearms were made in the Czech Republic, and still had their original serial numbers. No ammunition was found in the consignment, which is estimated to be worth about R175000.


From my book “Without Honour“:

“The CZ ‘75 is a semi automatic handgun made in the Czech Republic and originally introduced in 1975 by Ceska Zbrojovka Brod (CZUB) in 9mm calibre parabellum. It is one of the original ‘wonder nines’ featuring high-capacity double column magazine, sturdy all-steel construction, great accuracy, and superb reliability.

Weighing in at exactly 2 kilograms with a full magazine and one up the spout, the CZ is a remarkable weapon and had slowly become the issue pistol of the ZRP, taking the place of the aged and somewhat antiquated P1. I know how good the CZ ’75 is because not only had I qualified as a marksman with it every year I was in the Police, but I had also used it in the Police Pistol Shooting Championships in Harare for two years and found it to be the perfect pistol for myself – I have rather large hands.”


If there is anybody in the UK who would like a copy of my book “Without Honour“, please be advised that I now have a very limited stock of printed books.

If you would like to purchase the book, they are £10 plus £2 postage each.

You can contact me direct at mandebvhu(at) and I will work it all out with you.

Without Honour Stock

This is a limited stock and I intend to use the money from sales to replenish the stock.

Take care.



A couple of weeks ago I emailed the local newspaper, The Derby Evening Telegraph, to see if they did a book review service.

Better ‘n that, they put a reporter onto it, and despatched a photographer to see me.

The result was published yesterday:

“A former policeman who spent more than 30 years living and working in Zimbabwe has written a book about his experiences.

Robb Ellis has lived in Derby for the past seven years but grew up in the African country after his family emigrated from Britain when he was a baby.

But he and his family left for England in 1998 when they decided the political situation had become too dangerous under the rule of President Robert Mugabe.

Now he has documented his time spent working under the Mugabe regime – during which thousands of people have been killed – in his book, Without Honour.

Mr Ellis, 44, said he had always wanted to become a policeman and joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police in 1981 when he was 18.

He was posted to a station in Essexvale, now known as Esigodini, and took up the position of public prosecutor.

Mr Ellis, of Devon Close, Chaddesden, said he had to deal with ambushes, murders, rapes, robberies and political violence as part of his work during this time.

He said he saw a marked increase in the number of crimes in the area as people rebelled against Robert Mugabe’s rule.

“Being a prosecutor, I only became involved in the investigation of cases which would be heard in a higher court and so had my pick of volatile, vicious cases to investigate,” he said.

“One of the first instances of political malcontent I attended was the killing in an ambush of two friends of mine who were driving to Bulawayo one evening early in 1982.”

Later that year, Mr Ellis was transferred to Plumtree, on the Zimbabwe‘s western border with Botswana.

He said: “By the time I arrived there, Mugabe’s Korean-trained Fifth Brigade had been ordered into the province, where they robbed, murdered, pillaged and raped the local tribe.”

It is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 people were killed during this period.

In 1985, Mr Ellis left the police force after becoming disillusioned with the justice system in the country and worked for several large companies until leaving Zimbabwe in 1998.

He came to Britain with wife Bernie but, in August 2000, fell 13 feet while working in a warehouse in Swindon and shattered his left arm.

The couple then moved to Derby so that Mr Ellis could receive treatment at the Pulvertaft Hand Unit at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.

He was encouraged to write about his experiences by a friend from South Africa and began penning the book last year with the support of his wife and his mother, who also lives in Derby.

He said: “It was an amazing emotional release to write of the events of almost a quarter of a century ago but events, nonetheless, which are still relevant today as Mugabe is still in power, albeit undemocratically, and the people of Zimbabwe still suffer for his leadership.”

Without Honour is available as a print-on-demand book at and costs £12.99 plus postage.”

Take care.



In an attempt to get the book “Without Honour” into the public domain, I have reduced the retail price to just £9.99 + postage. My return on this is negligible, but becoming a rich man is not my objective.

The link to the relevant Lulu page is here…. I will leave this price in place for just 50 days – that is, until and including 23rd September 2007.

Other news on the book front is that I am working on my second book, which, at this time, masquerades under the working title of “Three Blind Mice” – I will be sure to keep you informed.

Take care.


In early May this year, I was asked by the editor of Disability Now to write an article on disability in Zimbabwe. I didn’t take much asking and I wrote the following article. As you read it, please remember that May was just 2 months ago, and that the figures quoted reflect those of just 60 to 90 days ago

The article was published in the internet here.

“I left Zimbabwe 8 years ago, but having lived there for almost 40 years and grown up in a family with a strong medical background, I have a very good concept of what living with a disability in Zimbabwe entails.

That I myself am now disabled is a coincidence.

Family values in Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in particular, are high.

But in the current political and economic climate in Zimbabwe, living with a disability in a huge encumbrance. The country does not have the disability network we see in the UK. Small organisations like St Giles, Jairos Jiri and RESCU have all but stopped operating, as costs are just too prohibitive.

Families with members that are disabled, whether physically or mentally, are largely left to handle the situation on their own. Some relatives see the birth of a child with a disability as a taboo that has brought bad omen to the family. One must remember that African people are very spiritual. The subject of disability in Zimbabwe has largely been sacrosanct, and therefore, remains unresolved.

Zimbabwean families are too busy just trying to get through the present day to spend time looking after the disabled. Only the fit will survive.

Whilst society is aware of their responsibilities to the disabled, time does not lend itself to providing that care.

The political and economic woes of the country no longer lend themselves to providing a society where people with disabilities can be afforded.

The British pound fetches a little more than Z$500 on the official exchange rate, whilst on the unofficial market it will fetch in excess of Z$50000! The Poverty Datum Line – the amount of money that a 5 member family requires to break even in any given month – is Z$1.4 million, but the average worker earns about Z$50000 per month.

Disabled people in Zimbabwe routinely face exclusion from education, employment, cultural activities, festivals, sports and social events and are especially vulnerable to poverty, physical and sexual violence, lack of access to health care, emotional abuse and neglect. Only 33% of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe have access to education, compared with over 90% for the able-bodied populace.

When disabled people become too much for any family to cope with, the normal thing is to book that person into a local government hospital under a false name so that when death occurs, the government is obliged to pick up the funeral costs with a pauper’s burial. This is because the family are unable to foot the funeral costs.

An elderly black man, blind at birth, used to spend his days playing a home-made guitar and singing popular hymns – his voice loud and melodic, he was almost a landmark of First Street in Harare. His son would sit with him and ‘manage’ the few coins that were donated by passers-by. But the municipal police chased them away and today they live at Hopley Farm, in a cold, crude hut manufactured for them by sympathetic neighbours,

He eats about one small meal every three days and cannot afford to purchase a regular supply of milk or bread.

He no longer plays the guitar. He no longer sings. He spends his days sitting in silence. The joy of his music is gone. He quietly sits awaiting death.

His life is cursed. He will not survive the winter this year. He welcomes death, if only for the freedom it will afford his son.

The disabled people of Zimbabwe – hidden, ignored and abhorred – nothing more, nothing less.”

Take care.



Yesterday, Eric Harrison’s book “Jambanja” joined the ranks of Lulu and is available as a Print on Demand book…

This humorous and devastatingly poignant novel is a fact based story of a white African’s agonizing battle to save his home, farm and family from brutal and intimidating terror attacks. A Major Work, exploring the collective character of a rebellious Nation torn apart by racism and rationalization and offering an exciting insight into relationships between good governance and State sponsored thuggery and terrorism. The reader is taken into the story with such gut-wrenching reality, that putting down the book, is like fighting your way out of a vivid dream.

Click here to visit the Lulu page. The book is for sale at £11.76 plus postage.

Take care.


“I begged Robb to write this book for historical reasons. I think history is important. History is extremely important in politics. Winston Churchill’s own amazing political career was built largely on nothing, but a knowledge of history. Robb and I spent our high school years in Churchill High School in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). The school was named after Winston Churchill and he gave it his blessing. Prior to that Robb and I went to Admiral Tait Junior school.

Our teachers taught us many things, but they also warned us of what awaited us in life. They imbued us with values and taught us to stand up for things we believed in. I remember our teachers telling us that life is indeed unfair, but that one must go out there and put energy into life. I remember being told that you get out of life in direct proportion to what you put into it. We must not expect life to give us things. We must go out there and make things happen. Some of that Churchillian attitude rubbed off on us. Perhaps now, after all these years, these values are more important to Robb and I than we understood back then.

Those were tumultuous and chaotic times. In those days, Rhodesia made world news headlines almost daily – much like South Africa was to do. Sometimes I actually miss them. Uncertainty was ever present in our lives. I remember standing in the school hall with our headmaster leading the prayers, praying to God that he would guide our leaders on the wisest course of action to save our country from evil. To us, Robert Mugabe was the ultimate embodiment of evil.

I remember too, sitting at home listening to my parents chatting to their friends and everyone agreeing that Rhodesia must not end up like Zambia to the north of us. Zambia, like all countries which ended up under majority rule, started out great and then things went wrong. Eventually, it became a mess. Countries to the north, west and east of us were ending up like this. We wanted to avoid that fate at all costs, and so we fought a desperate war trying to hold off the inevitable.

Despite all these hopes, prayers and battles, Zimbabwe today is far worse off than Zambia ever was. And the cause is not hard to find. In our case, of all the possible outcomes which could have occurred, the worst one happened. A curse was cast upon that nation, and that curse had a name: Robert Mugabe.

I remember sitting in class, in Churchill High School on the day when Robert Mugabe was first elected. Someone had brought a radio. The first official election results were to be broadcast. All of us in the class were white. And we knew that our fate would be decided on this day. Nobody spoke. We just listened to the radio broadcast. Then it was announced that ZANU (PF), Robert Mugabe’s party had won a landslide 93% of the vote. Nobody said anything. We just sat there. My heart dropped. Of all the possible outcomes – the very worst one had come to pass. It was as if we had fought a whole war for nothing.

My brother, who had been in the Rhodesian SAS and later, in the territorial forces had fought in the war. He said we should all get out of the country. He said there was zero hope under Mugabe’s rule.

So the next year, before finally finishing off school, I dropped out and went alone, as the first member of my family to leave Zimbabwe. I went to South Africa initially in the hope of joining the Air Force, but an Afrikaans-speaking Colonel recommended to me that since I was so English, I should rather join the Navy – because there were more English-speaking people in the Navy.

So I left, and thus parted company with my school and everyone I knew, including Robb. We were to live the next 25 years of our lives apart, until one day Robb found me and left a message for me on my website.

Little could I have guessed what strange turns Robb’s life had taken. He had remained in Zimbabwe and he wanted to be in the Police. So at the tender age of 19 he became one of the very few remaining whites in Zimbabwe’s Police force. With Whites leaving the Police Force, he was to eventually stand out like a sore thumb. With his Churchillian attitude and Western values, Robb tried to play the role of the honest Policeman. He tried to do his duty, and he tried to stand up for the things he believed in – like the rule of law.

But he was in the wrong country. Being honest, and believing in the truth and in good versus evil, is not a good thing in a country ruled by an evil man, who only uses democracy as a facade to hide his totalitarian and racist mindset. Fate was to throw Robb into Mashonaland where a war would break out – a secret one-sided war – where a few Matabele people would rebel against Mugabe’s rule, and where Mugabe would respond by murdering civilians en mass with an iron fist. Without plan or design, Robb, who had only shortly been out of school, soon found himself embroiled in a black-on-black war, an honest Policeman trying to serve an evil Master who was intent on murdering anyone who even hinted at opposing him. And murder them, he did. Nobody knows exactly how many were killed. It is said that in the Rhodesian war, from 1965-1980, that 30,000 people died. Yet, in a mere few years in the 1980′s, Mugabe was to murder another 20,000-30,000 Matabele people.

It often happens in Africa that enormous wars are waged, and little is ever known or written about them. Millions die – but they are mere statistics. Back in 1998, I wrote an article for WorldNetDaily’s magazine in the USA. I warned that there was an “African World War” in progress and that millions would die. Nobody seemed to care. Now we refer to that war as the Civil war in the DRC (formerly Zaire). Twelve African nations were involved and 4 million people died. But how many books have been written about it? Only one that I know of.

Many books were written about the Rhodesian War. But how many have been written about Mugabe’s genocide of 20,000+ Matabele people? None that I know of. Yet it was people who were killed. Living, breathing humans were murdered – sometimes in the most despicable way – though they committed no crime.

Robb was one of very few white men caught up in this hideous series of events. I thus begged him to write about what he had seen because it provides a rare insight into events which were suppressed. Mugabe and his CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation), did all they could to cover up the mass graves and to deny that anything was amiss. Mugabe was the darling of the Western world in those days. As Robb and other Policeman were busy picking up bodies and parts of bodies of women and children, the Western Media was singing high praises to “moderate” Robert Mugabe.

In this book, Robb writes about his life as a Policeman. He writes about the daily grind, the excitement and the humour of life as a Policeman and a prosecutor. But then too, his experiences take him into hideous situations where he has to pick up dead bodies; or he stumbles on a mass grave; or interviews witnesses to the slaughter. His friends are shot dead and he sometimes has to pick up their bodies himself to take them to the mortuary. But in the end, there are ominous signs that if this lone white Policeman does not leave the killing fields… then he too will end up as just one more corpse.

This book is the story of a young white man, freshly out of school who just wanted to be a Policeman helping his community and his country. But fate had other things in store for him and instead he finds himself drawn into a nightmare. As Robb readily admits, those events scarred him for life. Some of the things he was involved in remain nightmares for him to this day and he tells me that he tries as much as possible to put them out of his mind.

That curse which descended upon Zimbabwe has still not been lifted. What happened in the 1980′s could easily happen again on an even bigger scale. Perhaps, given the extremely dire situation in that country now, worse, much worse, may yet happen.

I hope that when next you hear: 10,000 people died, or 100,000 people died or a million people were murdered in Africa that perhaps you will sit back and think about Robb’s book. Perhaps you may then think quietly that real, living, feeling people were involved. Their screams and their tears went unrecorded – because nobody today really cares about the suffering brought on Africa by dictatorial curses such as Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Jan Lamprecht
12 October 2006″

Learn more about my book “Without Honour” at where you can order the book either as a printed paperback from Lulu for just £12.99, or as an e-book from Jan’s website US$12, or Lulu for £6.

As I state in the book, “Please also be aware that, being a disabled person, I would want any funds raised by the sale of this book to be used to assist my wife in her daily care of myself. Thank you for your understanding.”


Take care.


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