On January 4th, 2004 my family moved to Norton. I was a young boy just waiting for my O’Level results. As is normal, I made new friends some I kept and some I lost but all is part of life and has to be expected. My story today is not a happy story but in the sadness I hope my tale will touch someone.
I grew up liking fish a lot and I remember when I was at Msengezi High School where after spending an entire term of singing and reading I would buy roasted fish from the rusted AVM Zupco bus windows. I enjoyed the white meat from water until I reached my destination which was a rural clinic in the outskirts of Harare in Seke where my mother worked as a nurse. I was too used to all other meat but fish. It was long before these archaic siblings, Typhoid and Cholera, wrecked havoc in the districts of Zimbabwe. Fish has been known to come from Norton and Kariba and everyone who loves fish will certainly visit these places for the abundance of this source of protein.
When my parents informed me that we were moving to Norton I loved the idea. My not so little mind was so happy that it was going to be fish galore. Indeed in my first few days I would buy fish almost daily but the routine since changed when I realised that the fish are forever. I had tried the bass, the carp and the ever present breams. I became making new friends with my love for cricket and basketball bringing a whole lot of cronies around me. I loved being around my peers as it was the world to me. Being around peers, joking around and running around was always a reason to breathe. To think that I had only focused on fish when I came to this beautiful place makes me laugh to this day. I have made friends and family in this my adopted hometown. Like every other beautiful place, there are dents once in a while.
How life changed in Norton
We had a few bars and clubs in Norton. After the closure of the famous Sagonda hotel, Norton was peacefully sleepy and we would freely walk around the streets. Then the SME’s ministry legalised the once outlawed gold panning business, as it was important to the economy. Then came Dadza with his hell-hall called Club Appleyard. This place has brought joy to the Makorokoza and commercial sex workers but torment to the average resident. Various murders and attempted murders have come out of the furnace of madness and yet it has never been closed. Machete wielding gold panners often throng that place and crimes are committed rampantly.
Appleyard… where people dance and die
The nature of the club is that every morning someone loses a body part or a life. There is no happiness that Appleyard joint has brought to the people except bringing the gold panners from the gutters beneath the ground to the peaceful streets of Norton. To be fair on Appleyard, not all crime is committed there. The major concerns that Norton now has is on the number of deaths coming off the edges of knives.
Not just statistics
The most unfortunate part is that three of the most recent cases happened to people I know. They are not just statistics. These are people I knew. As I indicated above, my passion for sport and fitness made me meet up with many people in my young life. I also happened to be a member of a certain fitness society where we were some sort of family. I have also been part of society that I now have young brothers from my various mothers in the neighbourhood. It is with a heavy heart that I write this piece because just this weekend – Friday morning – a young brother to my friend who ultimately also became my friend was stabbed at Katanga taxi rank where he worked as a driver. It is my appeal to the ZRP and local authorities to make Norton safe again.
For now I can only say Rest in Peace to Bertha Chimutu, Tinashe Chinorwadza and my good friend Sidney Kumbanga whom we have lost after they were stabbed to death.