Harare, April 22, 2015 – Zimbabwean police have pledged to pursue and intensify investigations into the whereabouts of prominent human rights campaigner and freelance journalist Itai Dzamara, who went missing early last month.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) made the fresh commitment to escalate the probe aimed at locating Dzamara in a report which the law enforcement agency submitted to the High Court recently.
“All possible avenues are still being followed and the police’s doors are open for any eventualities,” reads part of the ZRP’s probe report which was seen by Radio VOP this week.
The ZRP report was drafted by Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge, who is the Officer Commanding ZRP’s CID Law and Order Division.
However, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) whose lawyers are representing Dzamara’s wife Sheffra in the search for her husband on Wednesday dismissed Makedenge’s report as a replica of the first account which was given to them by the ZRP.
“The purported report which was submitted to the Registrar of the High Court on Monday 13 April 2015 is more of a duplication of the first “report” submitted to the High Court on Tuesday 07 April 2015 devoid of detail regarding the scope of investigations that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has undertaken into the disappearance of Dzamara,” ZLHR said in a statement released Wednesday.
ZLHR said the only new information pertaining to the investigations that the ZRP claimed to have conducted was to indicate that police officers could not obtain any positive results from information supplied to them during the first week of April by one informant identified as Stephen Sibanda, who allegedly approached the police with information in the company of ZLHR member lawyer Gift Mtisi.
Nonetheless, ZLHR disputed the ZRP account and indicated that Mtisi’s client was a complainant in a matter in which he filed a police report at Warren Park Police Station and Harare Central Police Station alleging that he was being stalked by some unidentified people.
The ZRP purported report” is the second one which the agency has submitted to the High Court and to Dzamara’s lawyers after they initially dragged their feet in doing so.
The ZRP only complied with the High Court order compelling the law enforcement agents to report on progress in the search for the missing human rights defender after lawyers initiated contempt of court proceedings against them for failing to act in accordance with Justice David Mangota’s order.
In their first “report”, the ZRP claimed to be “doing all they can” to locate Dzamara, an iconic figure in Zimbabwe’s pro-democracy movement, who was abducted in early March.
However, human rights lawyers disputed the contents of the ZRP letter into the abduction of the pro-democracy activist and charged that the update was totally insufficient and could not be considered as a report because it did not contain crucial specifics of a police probe including details of people whom the ZRP officers interviewed during the purported investigations which they carried out.
The lawyers charged that by submitting such a “report”, the ZRP was just trying to find a way out of contempt of court proceedings instituted against them together with Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe and the State Security Minister by Sheffra, the wife of the missing pro-democracy activist and freelance journalist for failing to comply with a High Court order obliging them to report on progress they have made in searching for the missing human rights defender.
The contempt of court proceedings, which were filed in the High Court early this month were a follow up to the habeas corpus application filed in March by human rights lawyers 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 abducted early last month 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. He has remained missing since then.