Zimbabwe: A History of Abductions, Assassinations

Sheffra Dzamara, wife of missing activist Itai Dzamara (file photo).

October 15, 1975: Edson Sithole and his secretary Miriam Mhlanga were grabbed by unknown assailants, bundled into a car and were never seen again. A few weeks earlier, Sithole had fallen out with other nationalists leading to a split of the UANC and the reshuffling in the ranks of both Zapu and Zanu -- seven months after the assassination in Lusaka -- of Herbert

Chitepo. Although still officially missing 44 years later, an empty grave bears his name at national Heroes Acre.

1989: Captain Edwin Nleya disappeared in suspicious circumstances from an Infantry Battalion in Hwange. His body was found on a hillside in Hwange two months later. Nleya had threatened to expose senior army officers who were involved in poaching and smuggling ivory outside the country.

May 1990: Rashiwe Guzha, a secretary in the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), disappeared. At the time of her disappearance, Guzha had just broken off an affair with the then CIO deputy director Edson Shirihuru. Although an inquiry was set up by government, the results were never made public. Because her remains were never found, many believe she was killed and her body might have been dissolved in acid.

Early 90s: Marceline Dzumbira worked for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and disappeared shortly after she had allegedly kidnapped her husband's alleged mistress. She has not been found.

June 19 2000: Patrick Nabanyama, who was a polling agent for David Coltart in the violent June 2000 parliamentary election, disappeared after being abducted on June 19, 2000. A gang of up to 10 armed suspected Zanu PF activists, driving a white Mazda truck with no number plates, reportedly descended on Nabanyama's house and abducted him. He was never seen again.

Bulawayo provincial magistrate Rose Dube officially declared Nabanyama dead on August 11, 2010.

November 5, 2001: Cain Nkala, a Bulawayo war veterans' leader, was abducted from his home by 10 men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. He was taken away in a truck and later strangled to death. His body was found in a shallow grave near Solusi University on November 13. Nkala had been charged in connection with the abduction and "disappearance" on June 19, 2000 of Nabanyama, the election agent for MDC MP David Coltart. Nkala was alleged by several witnesses to be one of the war veterans who beat Nabanyama at his home in Nketa, bundled him into a car and took him to their offices. Nabanyama was never seen alive again.

May 13, 2008: Tonderai Ndira was a prominent activist and member of the MDC who was arrested on 35 occasions, and was reportedly described by his followers as "Zimbabwe's Steve Biko". He was abducted from his home by 10 armed men in the morning of May 13, 2008, in the context of campaigning between the two rounds of the 2008 presidential elections. His body was found later in the month. Reports said he had been shot in the heart, had multiple stab wounds, his eyes were gouged, his tongue was cut out and his neck, skull, jaw and knuckles were broken.

July 17, 2008: Abigail Chiroto was kidnapped by armed men who then petrol-bombed the house she shared with her husband, Emmanuel Chiroto, the then recently elected Harare deputy mayor under the MDC. Her blindfolded body was discovered close to the couple's house the next day.

December 3 2008: Jestina Mukoko, human rights activist, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and former ZBC newsreader, was abducted during the night from her home by suspected state agents for allegedly being involved in plans for anti-government demonstrations on December 3, 2008. After three weeks, Mukoko appeared at a police station being charged with recruiting persons to participate in alleged militia training in Botswana. In March 2009, she was released on bail. On September 21, 2009, the Supreme Court ordered a permanent stay of criminal proceedings against Mukoko.

February 8, 2012: Paul Chizuze, a prominent human rights activist, vanished under unclear circumstances. He was last seen around 8pm on that day when he left his home. His whereabouts remain a mystery. It is feared that he was abducted and murdered by political rivals.

March 9, 2015: Freelance journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara (35) was taken by five unknown assailants from a barbershop in Glen View, while he was getting a haircut. Four years later, he is still missing.

August 21, 2019: Samantha Kureya (Gonyeti) was abducted in the dead of the night from her house by people who identified themselves as police. She was bundled into an Isuzu truck, which drove to an unknown place where she was beaten up, forced to roll in sewage and to drink it as punishment for "mocking the government".

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