Pro-democracy activists in Zimbabwe are worried that a period of gross human rights abuses may be returning to the southern African nation after a prominent social rights activist was abducted by unknown assailants on Thursday night and left for dead in Harare.
Ishmael Kauzani, a member of the #Tajamuka social movement that led recent anti-government protests, told News24 that he was abducted by suspected state security agents on Thursday night, taken to a bushy area, assaulted, ran over by a vehicle and left to die.
“An unmarked twin-cab vehicle followed a commuter omnibus that I was travelling in as I was going back home from the (Harare) city centre and ordered it to stop and some men who were in that car ordered me to come out,” said Kauzani.
The activist said other passengers who were aboard the same commuter omnibus refused to allow his assailants to take him with them resulting in the alleged abductors firing gunshots and whisking him away as the other passengers scurried for cover.
“They bundled me into their truck and started beating me with logs as they drove to a forest where they further severely assaulted me and left me there. They came back some moments later and found me still there, as I could hardly stand. They ran their car over my legs and took away all my clothes, leaving me naked. After that they then drove me close to a nearby bar where I was assisted by some Good Samaritans to get to this clinic,” narrated Kauzani as he lay on his hospital bed.
Pro-democracy campaigner Patson Dzamara, whose brother Itai is still missing following his abduction last year in similar fashion by unknown assailants, said he was worried by the rate at which abductions were now taking place in Zimbabwe.
Dzamara, who was also abducted by unknown people a fortnight ago, told News24 that authorities must put a stop to forced dissapearances.
“Itai is still missing and these abductions are synonymous with a regime that fears its own people,” said Dzamara. Activist Ishmael Kauzani in his hospital bed. (Frank Chikowore, News24)
Another pro-democracy campigner, Sten Zvorwadza, who visited Kauzani at the hospital, accused the Mugabe regime of responsibility on Kauzani’s ordeal.
“It is only the state that has access to guns and this (Kazuani’s abduction) only points to the dirty work of the government,” charged Zvorwadza. “Our fear is that the 2008 era (of abductions and torture) is back with us.”
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, said authorities were yet to receive a report on Kauzani’s abductions.
“I can only give a detailed statement when our officers have fully investigated those allegations and what is alleged to have happened because at this juncture we have not received such a complaint,” said Charamba.