Mvungi dies in South Africa

Dr Sengondo Mvungi PHOTO|FILE

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Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe sent his condolences to Dr Mvungi’s family and the nation in general, saying his contribution was exemplary.

Dar es Salaam.Dr Sengondo Mvungi, a member of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), died in a South African hospital yesterday afternoon after a nine-day battle with injuries he suffered during a robbery.

The renowned lawyer and 2005 presidential candidate was attacked in the wee hours of November 4 at his residence at Kibamba on the outskirts of the city. He was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute before he was flown to Milpark hospital in Johannesburg on Thursday last week. He had been unconscious for five days. NCCR Mageuzi Chairman James Mbatia confirmed his death at 3:30pm. The party chairman, who has worked with Dr Mvungi for a long time, said he received news of Mr Mvungi’s death with profound shock. Mr Mbatia was one of many leaders to frequent MOI to check on Dr Mvungi. The CRC member was an advocate of the High Court and Court of Appeal of Tanzania. He taught at the University of Dar es Salaam before moving to the University of Bagamoyo and was also a member of the NCCR Mageuzi National Executive Committee.

Dr Mvungi suffered serious injuries after six gangsters raided his home at Kimbamba on the outskirts of the city. The assailants made away with money, his laptop and a mobile phone.

Police arrested nine suspects, who are still being questioned after they were found with Dr Mvungi’s mobile phone and machetes. Dr Mvungi became well known countrywide after he contested the top job as the flag bearer of NCCR Mageuzi and came fifth out of 10 candidates, having garnered 55,819 votes (0.43%). CRC chairman Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba said the death of Dr Mvungi was a gap in his commission because he was an important person who had expertise in constitution making process. “He was a researcher who was always keen in whatever he did. I knew and worked with him even before he became a member of CRC, so his death is really touching my heart,’’ Judge Warioba told The Citizen.

Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe sent his condolences to Dr Mvungi’s family and the nation in general, saying his contribution was exemplary. “We have been with him for more than 20 years in the fight against problems bedeviling the majority Tanzanians, and he has been working closely with all political parties,” Mr Mbowe said in a telephone interview.

Dr Mvungi was among the few people in the country who wanted to see the country get a consitution that would serve the interests of the country, he added. “We are so sad that he has died before seeing the document that he fought tirelessly for.” Dr Mvungi was at home when gangsters broke into his house and ordered everyone in the house to lie on the floor. He was slashed with machetes.

According to family members, he did not give in easily and fought back, refusing to be intimidated by the robbers. They started hitting him in earnest after he injured one suspect in the left eye, his granddaughter Dorice said in an interview. “This made them so angry that they started slashing granddad while dragging him to the kitchen,” Dorice said.

Wellwishers took him to Tumbi hospital in Kibaha before he was transferred to Muhimbili.

There were fears that Dr Mvungi’s laptop might have crucial documents related to the constitution review process but CRC Chairman Joseph Warioba was quick to dismiss the idea.

CRC members would carry only their documents, he said, while sensitive ones were left in the office. “It is not true that his laptop contained the said documents,” Judge Warioba added, “as all crucial documents are not entered into personal laptops.”

He confirmed, though, that Dr Mvungi lost a lot of personal data--as would be expected with any researcher.