HUMAN rights activist Jestina Mukoko has blasted former State Security minister Didymus Mutasa for protecting the identities of officials who abducted her together with several other activists in 2008.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
The Zimbabwe Peace Project director challenged Zimbabweans to hold the State accountable for human rights violations that include enforced disappearances.
Mukoko was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a publication titled Enforced Disappearances by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Harare yesterday.
She said despite an undertaking by the police to charge her abductors, Mutasa issued a ministerial certificate in 2009 prohibiting the disclosure of their identities, resulting in their protection.
“When I disappeared, the police actually made an undertaking; they actually wrote a letter that was signed by their legal adviser Assistant Commissioner Nzombe who said the people who had taken me from home were going to be charged.
“When my lawyer now wanted to know the identities of the people who did this, Minister Mutasa issued a ministerial certificate which said those people were not going to be identified because they were on State business,” she said.
Mukoko added: “So Mutasa knows the people who abducted me, the people who held me incommunicado, the people who handed me over to the police, but he protected their identities.”
Mukoko said the fact that Mutasa was now with the Zimbabwe People First party would not take away the pain and suffering she endured at the hands of Mutasa’s then subordinates.
“The new face does not change anything. It does not rub that I was abducted, I was tortured and I was not protected by the law and the people who did this to me have had their identities protected.
“It does not change anything that he is no longer with Zanu PF and he is now with People First; he is still Didymus Mutasa,” Mukoko said.
“The message to Zimbabwe is that as Zimbabweans, we need to hold people to account. People need to be responsible for their actions because for as long as people are protected, what is there for them to desist from doing these things?”
Mutasa could not be reached for comment yesterday.
ZLHR programmes manager Dzimbabwe Chimbga said the publication was motivated by the country’s long history of enforced abductions with the view of articulating international, regional and domestic guidelines on human rights protection against enforced disappearances.
He said the book also addressed situations where the state reneged in the enforcement of High Court orders and said it was not surprising when the State ignored court orders.
“For us it is not surprising because in most cases of enforced disappearance the State actually participates directly so we are saying when those actions happen it must be condemned and the individuals in the State agencies must be sued in their individual capacities,” he said.