Harare – After the abduction of their friend, Kudakwashe Kambakunje, and burning of their market wares in September, a group of four young male vendors is living in fear after signs that they might be targeted.
The fears have been heightened after last week unknown men with firearms reportedly came to their houses in Dzivarasekwa suburb in Harare at night asking relatives of their whereabouts.
Ephert Lizyman (25) who makes a meagre living from pushing small wares at Chinhoyi Street and stays at house number 541/a in Dananai Street says he was saved by jumping the durawall.
The rapid escape left him with a cut on his heel after stepping on broken glass, while the would-be assailants broke windows at the house on Friday night.
Lizyman is a registered vendor with the city council and pays a US $ 1 every day to the authority, but the suspicious developments have forced him to go into hiding since Kambakunje was seized from the same street.
According to Lizyman, trouble started after a group of vendors clashed with municipal police over administration of market stalls, leading to skirmishes – something not new in the streets of Harare.
“There were street protests going on every day before that by various groups and the clash might have been seen as political,” Lizyman said unmistakable fear dancing in his eyes.
“The men with guns apparently know my name although I do not know who they are.”
Equally, in the bull’s eye of the pursuers are Forward Chabooka (30), Tichaona Donken (24) and Justice Chinakire (23), who also live in Dzivarasekwa.
Chabooka and Lizyman were saved by the dint of them attending a funeral when the men raided their home.
“That’s when they came and beat up my wife,” Chabooka said.
When they could not locate Chabooka, the assailants reportedly slapped his wife and took her to Westgate where they dumped her.
The National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) whose office’s windows were recently smashed with stones confirmed that the four youths are its members.
“Yes, the people concerned are our members and they have made similar reports to us that they are living in fear,” said NAVUZ Director, Value Mgagara.
That there has been a rise in the number of abductions recently gives the young vendors reasons to be much more scared.
In September, actor Silvanos Mudzvova was abducted from his home by armed men in Crowborough at night.
Both Kambakunje and Mudzvova were injected with an unknown substance before being dumped at farms in Nharira Hills and along Mazowe road respectively, all with lacerations on their bodies from torture.