Mutodi in STD storm
HARARE – Flamboyant businessman and musician Energy Mutodi and Tariro Chirende lived what sounded like a dream — a multimillion-dollar home in Charlotte Brooke, nannies for their children, travelling on fast cars and extravagant dinners.
But the storybook has ended in a messy divorce case, with accusations and counter-accusations that they infected each other with a sexually transmitted disease.
In testimony at their divorce trial which wound down yesterday, their lavish lifestyle was detailed, and the 34-year-old husband and 24-year-old wife accused each other of domestic violence and infidelity during their short-but-volatile marriage.
In post-trial interviews yesterday, both denied the allegations.
Even more attention-grabbing, however, is that Mutodi called a news conference soon after the divorce trial to debunk his estranged wife’s counter-accusations that it was in fact him, who had infected her with a venereal disease.
The intensity of the case was demonstrated in the couple’s divorce trial — on which a decision by magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti was handed, throwing out the $1 500 monthly maintenance claim lodged by the wife and the demand for a protection order against her ex-husband.
Muchuchuti ruled that Chirende was given an option to return home but she declined the offer. She has relocated to her mother’s home in Mabvuku.
On allegations of assault, Muchuchuti ruled that despite Chirende mentioning that she had a bruised eye and injured spleen, there were no medical reports to support her claims.
“There are no police reports to show that the respondent assaulted applicant and the housemaids and that respondent also verbally abused applicant… Wanting to take applicant back into the matrimonial home is not consistent with a violent man,” Muchuchuti said.
On the first day, a tearful Chirende told the magistrate how her husband had threatened her, even with a bullet. She testified her husband attacked her before their divorce filing, causing injuries including a brown eye and a damaged spleen. She told the court he attacked her with punches and kicks and an electric chord.
Mutodi contested the domestic violence charges, and Muchuchuti said the wife, married into a polygamous union, had failed to prove her allegations.
The magistrate gave custody of the two minor children to the mother.
However, the courts did not bar Mutodi from seeing his children because it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was a violent man as alleged.
Muchuchuti went on to dismiss the request for a protection order against the musician because of want of evidence.
The distraught Chirende vowed to appeal against the ruling in the High Court.
Mutodi — previously married with children — fronts an Afro-rhumba outfit Mutodi Stars, is also an author and also is into real estate.
He accused his wife of having extra-marital affairs and cited it as the reason for the breakdown of their customary union.
He claims he contracted a sexually transmitted infection from the wife, a charge strenuously rejected and rubbished by the wife in court yesterday.
Chirende said Mutodi lied to the courts and further accused him of producing false medical affidavits.
“I never infected him with an STI, if he got it, it was from one of his many wives or girlfriends and not me,” Chirende said yesterday.
“All the evidence produced by (Jonathan) Samkange (Mutodi’s lawyer) in court was doctored,” Chirende alleged.
Chirende’s mother, earlier accused by Mutodi of failing to install discipline in her daughter, took great exception to the musician’s allegations that she was irresponsible because she was a single mother with a litany of divorces.
The mum, only identified as Chuma, alleged it was infact Mutodi who was not raised well and should stop blaming it on single parents.
In the protection order ruling, Muchuchuti said it may have been common knowledge that Mutodi and Chirende were customarily married, however, the singer is also a known polygamist with many wives.
Meanwhile, Mutodi — who was arrested Thursday just after his alimony trial on another unrelated housing scam in which he is alleged to have duped civil servants by deducting cash from their salaries after promising to allocate them housing stands —claimed the arrest was meant to scuttle his bid for the Goromonzi West parliamentary seat on a Zanu PF ticket.
Mutodi said the police ambushed him in the middle of his domestic crisis.
“I am a public figure and the police have got access to me, however they chose to attack me at my weakest,” Mutodi said.
“As a campaigning candidate for Goromonzi West, my conclusion is that this arrest is politically-motivated.”
The alleged housing scam involves Zimtrust Housing Finance, in which he serves as a director. Mutodi was questioned by officers from the Commercial Crimes Unit, and later freed.
“This is politics, it is a dirty game, and Mutodi is going to win Goromonzi West at all costs. The people are happy with me, so this bad publicity will not change anything,” he said.
Mutodi, whose discography includes the popular Simbi Yamudhara album, also castigated the police saying the manner they treated him as a public figure was unbecoming.
“There was no need for all the humiliation. I write textbooks and the nation is benefitting from that, surely, I deserve better treatment,” he said.
“But you know we are used to this violent way of doing things, I really wish it would stop. Such humiliation is not fit even for a murderer.”
When asked to respond to the fraud charges being levelled against his housing company, he said he could not comment as he was not the right person to do so.
“As you know, I am a mere director. The company spokesperson will have to comment on that,” Mutodi said.
“I am not asking for special treatment although I deserve exceptional treatment.
“A little respect for those of us who serve the country in the capacity we do, would not hurt,” a frustrated Mutodi said. – Helen Kadirire and Ndakaziva Majaka