Harare, March 13, 2015 – A Zimbabwean Judge has put the country’s spy agency and the police on the spotlight after he ordered them to conduct a thorough search into the disappearance of freelance journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara, who went missing early this week.
Dzamara, who has since last year mounted anti-government protests demanding that President Robert Mugabe step down for mismanaging and ruining the once prosperous southern African country went missing on Monday after he was abducted by some unidentified assailants from a barber shop in his residential suburb of Glenview.
Justice Mangota granted the order after hearing an urgent habeas corpus application filed on Tuesday by Dzamara’s wife Sheffra on behalf of her husband and through her lawyers Charles Kwaramba and Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The High Court Judge ordered Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe and State Security Minister, who were listed as respondents in the application and who denied knowledge of Dzamara’s whereabouts during the hearing, to do all things necessary to determine his whereabouts including advertising within 12 hours of the granting of the court order on all State media including all radio stations, ZBC-TV, The Herald and The Chronicle newspapers.
Justice Mangota also ordered the respondents to dispatch a team of police detectives to work closely and in conjunction with Dzamara’s legal practitioners to search for the freelance journalist at all such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the law and report progress of such search to the Registrar of the High Court by 1600 hours every Friday fortnightly until his whereabouts have been determined.
In 2008, Zimbabwe’s state security agents were fingered in abduction of prominent human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko and some MDC-T supporters who were accused of plotting to unseat President Mugabe’s administration. Although the police and the CIO initially denied having Mukoko and the MDC-T political activists in their custody, they later emerged at court and told judicial officers that they had been held incommunicado for several weeks by the agents.
The 36 year old Dzamara, an iconic figure in Zimbabwe’s pro-democracy movement was reportedly abducted on Monday 09 March 2015 by some unidentified men who were travelling in a white twin cab vehicle with a blurred registration number plate from a barber shop, where he was having a haircut in Harare’s high density suburb of Glenview.
Local civic and regional organisations including western governments have condemned the abduction of Dzamara and called upon the government to act and ensure the safe return of the pro-democracy activist.