Harare – AIR Zimbabwe public relations executive Shingai Dhliwayo, 36, was murdered and her body hanged on a tree a few kilometres from the Ramokgwebana border post in Botswana, police said yesterday.
Although the motive for her murder has not been established, police said their counterparts in Botswana found her body in a bushy area on Saturday and immediately contacted them.
Dhliwayo, who ran a catering company, travelled to Botswana last Saturday for a personal business meeting soon after the end of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair where she manned the Air Zimbabwe stand.
Police in the neighbouring country are looking for an individual identified as Brian who was allegedly the last person to call Dhliwayo on her mobile phone.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said their Botswana counterparts contacted the Zimbabwean police after discovering her body.
“Dhliwayo was found murdered and her body hanged on a tree a few kilometres from the border post. Police found her Air Zimbabwe identity card on her and contacted the Officer Commanding Matabeleland South Assistant Commissioner Happymore Sigauke,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
She said Asst Comm Sigauke contacted Air Zimbabwe personnel for confirmation and it was established that she had been missing for a week.
“The motive for the murder hasn’t yet been established but investigations are underway. Zimbabwean police are working with their Botswana counterparts to get to the bottom of the matter,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said.
She said investigations show that Dhliwayo was last called by a Brian on her mobile phone before she went to Botswana and police are trying to establish where this person is.
Air Zimbabwe passenger and cargo general manager Chris Kwenda yesterday said the family was waiting for an autopsy which has been set for tomorrow (Wednesday) and thereafter plans to repatriate the body would be made.
“What I can confirm is that Botswana authorities said the pathologist will be available on Wednesday to conduct the autopsy. It’s only after the autopsy that we’ll know when the body will be repatriated. However, since there’s an element of criminality it might take longer to repatriate it,” he said.
Kwenda said the national airline and the National Handling Services are sending teams to assist the family with all necessary arrangements.
Dhliwayo’s sister Shuvanai said funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.
“We’re yet to meet as a family and as of now there isn’t much we can say because other family members are in Botswana,” said a grief-stricken Shuvanai.
Dhliwayo nee Taruvinga was born to Salvation Army pastors and once served at the Bulawayo Temple in Makokoba where she was a youth member in the early 2000s.
A family member who spoke on condition of anonymity said Shingai flew to Bulawayo for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and then hiked to Botswana for a personal business meeting last Saturday.
“Soon after her arrival in Botswana, she called her husband telling him that she had found the people she had travelled to meet.
“However, soon afterwards, both her mobile numbers — her local number on which she was roaming and the Botswana line she had used to call home weren’t going through leaving the family worried,” said the family member.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said their Botswana counterparts had indicated that there was a hilly area around the Ramokgwebana border post from which thieves monitor people as they travel.
“Normally they target border jumpers but for Dhliwayo it was a different case as she went through the border legally.
“We’re warning travellers particularly border jumpers that they risk being robbed or killed around this area which is a hot spot for crime,” she said.
Dhliwayo is survived by husband Totizirepi Dhliwayo and three children.
Mourners are gathered at her family home in Norton.