CAPE TOWN — Friends and colleagues of Zimbabwean human rights campaigner Paul Chizuze, who has been missing for six months, are losing hope of finding him and are desperately hoping he has fled to South Africa, according to reports.
Four months after his disappearance, a relative saw his dusty vehicle parked at a prominent spot outside the government tax offices while passing through the border town of Beitbridge en route to SA.
According to the Cape Times, colleagues say they were told by a security guard working nearby that the car had been there for several weeks. But Zimbabwean police did not do any forensic tests on the vehicle. One source described the issue as “too sensitive” for the police to handle.
Chizuze had a modest SA bank account opened about seven years ago. But his colleagues say they have established that no withdrawals have been made since his disappearance.
Chizuze left his home in Bulawayo just after 20:00hrs on February 8, 2012. The 58-year-old was seen driving his Nissan Hardbody with registration number ACJ 3446.
Some family members say they fear Chizuze may have been abducted, hijacked or murdered on the night he disappeared. A relative who declined to be named said the family was despairing.
“I now suspect he was murdered and we should all accept that we will never find him alive,” he said.
Chizuze was a prominent activist and investigator during and after the Gukurahundi massacres in the Matabeleland region in the 1980s, when then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe ordered a North Korean-trained brigade of the army to ostensibly deal with armed dissidents resulting in the killing of thousands of opposition supporters loyal to Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zapu, then a rival to Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.
Education, Sport and Culture minister David Coltart, a close friend and former colleague of the disappeared activist, said Chizuze had too much information on Gukurahundi.
The minister said Chizuze had been working on issues that could have embarrassed authorities in the government, especially hardliners.