HomeLocal NewsI don’t feel safe - Maguwu

I don’t feel safe – Maguwu

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Farai Maguwu, the human rights and development activist who was last week released on bail, says he still lives in fear because of the chilling experiences he went through at the hands of security agents.
Maguwu said in an interview at his Chikanga home in Mutare at the weekend that the manner in which the police hunted him before he eventually surrendered was very frightening.
He said security agents tracked him as if he was a fugitive.
“I don’t feel really safe. The way the police hunted me military-style made me believe l was doomed. I don’t know what will happen to me and I still fear meeting anyone on the streets.”
He said despite his dread, he felt strengthened and motivated to continue fighting for human rights.
“I am strengthened and motivated. I am more determined to continue defending human rights. It’s not just a job. I feel offended when I see human rights abuses. A threat to human rights in this country is a regional threat.
“It’s part of the struggle. Zimbabwe has a history of harassing and torturing people who fight for freedom. It’s an ongoing drama like the (Jestina) Mukoko saga. But there is no reason to be intimidated,” Maguwu said.
He said diamonds were meant to convey love and the source of the mineral had to express love, peace and harmony.
“As long as there are human rights abuses and locals are unhappy, there is no expression of love,” Maguwu said.
Maguwu said when security agents were hunting him down they deployed officers all over with others hiding in rubbish bins at Fidelity Building, which houses Centre for Research and Development (CRD).
Maguwu is the director of CRD, a non-governmental organisation. He was released on stringent bail conditions after his arrest on charges of allegedly spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the State. He was in detention for five weeks.
Maguwu, according to the state’s case, allegedly passed a security document to Abbey Chikane, the Kimberley Process monitor to Zimbabwe detailing human rights abuses at Chiadzwa.
He denies the charges. He faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted. “I am told armed police were all over the corners looking for me and interrogating everyone who would be heading towards my office. Up to now it’s a cause for concern,” he said.
The human rights’ activist said security agents camped at his house for six days eating his food. “For six days they camped in my house eating my food and sleeping on my bed. During those six days, they were terrorising my relatives and one of them was injured in the process,” he said. Maguwu said he handed himself to the police after receiving reports the police were assaulting his relatives.
“I heard some people who did not even identify themselves raided my house and arrested my cousin so l handed myself over to the police but l was afraid knowing very well the history of torture in the country,” said Maguwu. Maguwu said his safety was not guaranteed and feared anything could happen.
“When I went to the police I was afraid… I was expecting the worst,” he said. He said the police violated his rights while in custody.
He said they switched his drugs after he fell ill while in custody. Maguwu was also denied blankets and slept on the floor during cold nights.
When he was transferred to Harare, Maguwu said he was threatened with torture if he did not co-operated with the police. Commenting on the KP certification of the diamonds from Chiadzwa, Maguwu said there was need for the government to put in place measures to ensure transparency to avoid corruption.
He said benefits from the sale of the stones should benefit all Zimbabweans and not just a few individuals.
“There has to be a strong government institution to guard against corruption. We want accountability and transparency,” Maguwu said.
“The disappearance of the $30 million as (Minister Tendai) Biti said means there are weak institutions to safeguard diamonds.”
Announcing his mid-term budget, Biti said treasury and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority had failed to trace the revenue from past diamond sales.

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