Harare High Court judge Justice David Mangota has ordered the State to do everything possible and work with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in order to establish the whereabouts of the missing journalist and human rights activist Itai Dzamara, who was allegedly abducted on Monday this week.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Justice Mangota ordered that the State should advertise on national television, radios and in the Press, with a view to getting leads on Dzamara’s location and also report the search progress every Friday of the week.
The ruling by Justice Mangota came about after Dzamara’s wife, Sheffra, made an urgent chamber application seeking to compel State security agencies to release her husband.
In her application, Sheffra, who was represented by lawyers Aleck Muchadehama and Charles Kwaramba, said her husband was kidnapped by unknown assailants she suspected to be State security agents.
“I genuinely believe that those who have kidnapped him are State agents. There is a real possibility that they have killed him or they intend to do so,” Sheffra said in her affidavit.
“I have no doubt at all in my mind that his political activism is the source of his present predicament. He had also advised me that in recent days he was being followed by people that he believed to be State agents. Not only that, he said some of them had actually warned him to stop his campaign or he would face the consequences.”
Sheffra said the issue was a clear case of kidnapping.
“I am now gripped by extreme fear for my husband’s life. Clearly, there was no lawful arrest of my husband. It could not have been a lawful arrest which was done so clandestinely. If my husband had been arrested on some allegations, he would obviously have been informed of the charges against him and he would have been taken to a known police station,” she said.
Representing the State, Fortunate Chimbaru had opposed the application saying the State was equally at loss as to the whereabouts of Dzamara.
“My instructions are that the respondents (Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of State Security, Commissioner-General of Police and Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation) do not know the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara and also deny any involvement in his disappearance,” Chimbaru said.
She further said there was no reasonable ground that Dzamara was being detained by the respondents, adding that the police were carrying out investigations into the matter. Chimbaru also said police did not have funds to advertise on national television and newspapers, an assertion that was dismissed by judge.
According to Sheffra, witnesses who were present when Dzamara was abducted at a barbershop said five men who were in a vehicle approached him and told him that he was wanted in connection with stock theft.
“They handcuffed him, dragged him to the car and drove off within a space of three minutes. Those who were present said they only managed to see a part of the vehicle registration number ABB2.., but could not see the other part which was folded, clearly to hide the full identity of the car,” Sheffra said.