Zimbabwe: Deaths, Abductions and Terror in Mnangagwa's Backyard

Photo: The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Antony Kadozo, a veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation war, is struggling to come to terms with the death of his son, who was allegedly killed by Zanu PF youths.

The 65-year-old Kwekwe resident said what pained him the most was that some of the 21-year-old Joseph's suspected killers grew up with his son.

Joseph, an MDC supporter, died on August 22 after he was allegedly abducted by the Zanu PF youths at the Mbizo 3 shopping complex.

The youths allegedly dragged him to the Mbizo parliamentary constituency offices, where they have allegedly established a torture base.

Kadozo could not hold back tears as he narrated how he found his son's lifeless body lying in the open with broken limbs. He said on the fateful day he had left his son at home as he attended a friend's funeral at Masasa.

On his return, he was informed by neighbours that a group of people were seen assaulting his son as they headed towards the parliamentary office.

Kadozo did not find his son at the parliamentary office on that day as the youths had allegedly taken him to Mbizvo 16 where they stay.

"The following morning at around 6:10am I was woken up by neighbours who said Joseph was sleeping by the roadside," he said.

"When I got to the spot, I realised that my son was dead. I came back home to collect one of his blankets, which I used to cover his body before I made a police report."

Kadozo said one of the youths that were seen assaulting Joseph was Tapiwa Madondo, who grew up in the same neighbourhood with his son.

"What pained me the most was that all Zanu PF leaders in this area did not attend my son's funeral," he said.

"I am a war veteran, but I am apolitical.

"I expected the Zanu PF people to come to the funeral since my son was tortured at a place where they gather and by youths from that party."

Kadozo said the MDC assisted the family during the bereavement.

Joseph is the first known person to have died during the fresh wave of abductions and torture of opposition and civil society activists by unknown people.

A number of activists were left for dead after they were abducted by suspected state security agents at a time the opposition MDC was planning to roll out protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government throughout the country.

Popular comedian Samantha Kureya, who goes by the stage name Gonyeti, was seized from her Harare home and tortured.

Her tormentors allegedly threatened to kill her if she continued making skits that poke fun on Mnangagwa's government.

Joseph is one of three MDC supporters that were abducted and tortured in the president's home town. The other two, however, were lucky to escape with their lives.

"My son died a painful death," Kadozo said.

"They broke his leg and arm."

He was buried at the Masasa cemetery.

Sekai Marashe, the MDC's provincial youth chairperson for Midlands, is still admitted at Kwekwe General Hospital after she was abducted and tortured by the same group last week.

A few days before her abduction she had written to police in Kwekwe notifying them that her party wanted to stage demonstrations in the city between Friday and yesterday.

Police, however, banned the demonstrations. Marashe said she was wearing an MDC T-shirt with party leader Nelson Chamisa's portrait when she was seized by the youths at the Russel bus terminus.

She was waiting for a bus that was supposed to deliver flyers encouraging Kwekwe residents to turn up for the demonstrations.

"I was approached by two Zanu PF youths who immediately called some people, telling them they had found me," Marashe narrated.

"All of a sudden, a group of about 12 people armed with machetes and logs arrived.

"They hit me all over the body and dragged me to the Zanu PF district offices. I tried to make a phone call, but I was hit with a log on the ear and my phone was smashed."

The youths allegedly tore off her clothes and left her for dead, but not before warning her against continuing to support the MDC.

Marashe reported the torture at Kwekwe central police station under case number DR 03/09/19, but no arrests have been made up to now.

While recording her statement, the woman collapsed and only regained consciousness after she was admitted to hospital.

Marashe had no kind words for Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi, who claimed on Twitter last week that she was a prostitute and was assaulted during a drunken brawl.

"There was a group of about 150 people who witnessed my torture from the time I was being dragged from the Russel bus terminus," she said.

"Although I am still hospitalised I can positively identify the people that abducted me and one of them is called Drogba, a known Zanu PF thug."

Another victim is Alfonse Mugwagwa, the MDC's chairperson for Mbizo ward 3, who said he considered himself lucky to be alive.

He said he was approaching his workplace last Thursday when a car with eight men aboard suddenly blocked him. He said one of the man shouted: "this is the man who says President Mnangagwa must be removed from office."

"They started assaulting me all over the body with different weapons," Mugwagwa said.

"I was hit with a machete on the nose and I suffered a deep cut.

"I was also hit with something that felt like a hammer on the back of my head."

Midlands police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko said he could not comment on the cases because he had been out of office for some time.

Justice minister Ziyambi last week caused a stir when he told Parliament that activists were faking the abductions to soil the government's image.

Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya said the political violence in Kwekwe started a long time ago,

He claimed that between January 2018 and March 2019, 14 people had died and 104 severely injured after attacks by Zanu PF terror gangs.

One of the gangs is known as Al Shabaab, which was named after Somalia's infamous terrorist group.

"More cases continue to be recorded and it seems the terror gang enjoys impunity from very senior and named Zanu PF officials in the province with some being cabinet ministers," Chikwinya said.

State Security minister Owen Ncube has in the past denied reports that he is the godfather for Al Shabaab.

Searchmore Muringani, the MDC Midlands deputy provincial spokesperson, said party activists were now living in fear following the spike in cases of abductions and torture.

"There is a lot of fear among our supporters right now because of the recent cases. Democratic space has been closed," he said.

"What is even more worrying is that Marashe is a member of the peace committee of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission here in Kwekwe.

"After her torture some people in the party are now even saying we must withdraw from that platform."

Muringani said people behind the violence were known, but police were not taking any action.

He said those who had been arrested were immediately released on bail and threatened witnesses.

"In many cases, the culprits are just not arrested," he added.

Chikwinya was forced to abandon the constituency office by the Zanu PF youths who now use it as a torture base.

The European Union, United Nations, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States recently condemned the spate of abductions and urged the government to act.

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