HARARE – Former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo has published names of more than a dozen people, allegedly intelligence operatives, accusing them of the July abduction and torture of 22-year-old university student Tawanda Muchehiwa.
Moyo, now living in exile in Kenya, previously released some of the names in October, prompting the government to announce plans for law reforms to penalise “the act of publication of the identity of members of the security services.”
Muchehiwa, a nephew of ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu and second year journalism student at the Midlands State University was grabbed by armed men in broad daylight outside a hardware shop in Bulawayo on July 30, the eve of anti-government protests that had been planned by activists.
The abduction, captured on CCTV and involving at least six vehicles, was followed by a raid on Mathuthu’s home by members of the same team claiming to be looking for “subversive materials”.
As Muchehiwa was driven away to be tortured for three days at an unknown location, two other nephews of the journalist and a female leader from the MDC Alliance were booked at the main police station, Moyo says not by police officers but at least four operatives from the Central Intelligence Organisation – Frank Muzembe, Innocent Chigona, Joshua Zingwe and Ronald Musarurwa.
Others implicated by Moyo are Brian ‘Beeman’ Maguya, Samson Munyaradzi Chikadaya, Abraham Pasi, Anyway Sithole, Mungate Mungate, Fidel Murume and Tawonga Nyemba who is also known as Togarepi Ringisai.
Moyo claims to have obtained the names from intelligence sources, which, if confirmed, would represent a major breakthrough for human rights groups and opposition activists whose reports of state-sanctioned abductions have been dismissed as “stage managed” and “fake” by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.
Three female MDC activists including the Harare West MP Joana Mamombe reported that they were abducted and sexually abused for two days in May, but police charged them with faking the abduction to sully Zimbabwe’s human rights record.
Muchehiwa was released after three days suffering life-threatening kidney injuries. He told police investigators that his abductors, who were five, drove him well out of town and kept him at a farmhouse where there was evidence of past small-scale poultry farming.
Moyo now says he has been handed names of the five CIO operatives who carried out the torture: Mqondisi Ncube of Gwanda, William Manzunzu from Bikita, Assistant Intelligence Officer Joseph ‘Wasu’ Ndlovu from Chipinge, Benson Mupamhadzi and Tonderai Chiguya, the alleged driver of the hired Ford Ranger in which Muchehiwa was driven.
A High Court judge ordered Impala Car Rental from which the Ford Ranger was hired to share with Muchehiwa’s lawyers vital information about the individual who was issued the car, and also tracking data.
Impala Car Rental refused to co-operate with the legal team, instead claiming that police took all the records. The vehicle had no tracker at the time, the company also said.
Muchehiwa’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole told ZimLive that three police investigating officers had been assigned the Muchehiwa abduction case, each changed without explanation.
Last month, police commissioner general Godwin Matanga assembled a new team of half-a-dozen CID detectives from Harare and Gweru to begin a fresh investigation, but Sithole says they hold no hopes the probe will go anywhere.
“We’re determined to get justice for Muchehiwa. Our prayer is that the police wrap-up their investigation so that we take our next steps,” the lawyer said, hinting at a possible private prosecution.
Sithole said Muchehiwa’s abductors were working with the operatives who took the two nephews and MDC Alliance activist Tawanda Masotsha to the police station, and it should be easy from a review of police records to establish who they were.
Moyo claims most of the operatives who worked at the Magnet House CIO headquarters in Bulawayo have been transferred out of Bulawayo province after their names got out. Muzembe has been allegedly redeployed to Mashonaland West, Chigona to Mashonaland Central and Zingwe to Masvingo.
Police say the investigation into Muchehiwa’s abduction continues.