POLICE are investigating the abduction of journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, who was forcibly taken by yet unknown assailants on Monday, with opposition parties and civic society groups saying they now feared the worst.
MOSES MATENGA/SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed Dzamara’s abduction, saying police were handling the matter.
She, however, dismissed social media reports that a body, some believing to be that of Dzamara, had been found near Goromonzi following the abduction.
“We have received a report that he was kidnapped yesterday (Monday) at a shopping centre in Glen View 7 while he was coming out of a barber shop,” Charamba said.
“The report says he was taken by four men and we are investigating his whereabouts. We still do not have details of what transpired.”
On the body reportedly being found in Goromonzi, Charamba said: “That is not true. No body has been found in Goromonzi.”
However, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai hastily called a Press conference yesterday afternoon where he shared his fears for Dzamara’s life accusing President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party of employing dirty tactics against those fighting the regime.
“Today (yesterday) is supposed to be my birthday and I never budgeted that on what was supposed to be my day of joy, I could end up talking about a morbid abduction and disappearance of an innocent citizen,” Tsvangirai said.
“As a party, we fear the worst. The callous abduction of Itai Dzamara has come as a complete shock to me, to the MDC and to Zimbabweans at large. Only yesterday, we heard he was abducted from a hair salon and driven away in an Isuzu vehicle by five unknown men. Late afternoon yesterday, I received a call from his wife, saying Dzamara had been abducted and the family could not find him,” he said.
“We are in no doubt as to the perpetrators of this abduction. We hold Mugabe and his regime responsible for this morbid and senseless act. The President, who is also AU and SADC chair, cannot preside over a country where innocent citizens get abducted and disappear.”
Dzamara was at the MDC-T rally on Saturday where he gave a solidarity speech supporting calls for action and mass protests.
Several rights organisations yesterday called for the immediate release of Dzamara. Heal Zimbabwe said the abduction of Dzamara was a direct violation of the Constitution which guaranteed freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Social media was awash with campaigns to bring back Dzamara yesterday with lawyers saying they had filed an urgent habeas corpus application to compel whoever is holding Dzamara to bring him before the court so as to determine if he should really be in detention.
Dzamara was since last year leading anti-government protests under a peaceful civil disobedience programme dubbed Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) Movement and he is the spokesperson of the National Youth Action Alliance.
Tsvangirai said there was need for full investigation and arrests of the culprits.
He said the circumstances of Dzamara’s abduction were familiar to the MDC-T given that most of the party activists among them Tonderai Ndira, Tichaona Chiminya, Beta Chokururama and many others were abducted and in most cases found murdered.
On December 3 2008 prominet human rights activist and Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko was abducted during the night from her home north of Harare by suspected state agents for allegedly being involved in plans for anti-government demonstrations.
She was accused of recruiting youths for military training with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Mukoko was released on bailthree months after her abduction in March 2009. Her whereabouts had been unknown for a considerable time during which time her family and friends feared for the worst.