…moves to South Africa for security, health reasons
TAWANDA Muchehiwa, the nephew to ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu who was abducted and brutally assaulted by state security agents in July, tried to commit suicide by hanging himself last week in South Africa, his lawyer has revealed.
This came as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)-linked Impala Car Rental, whose vehicle was used for the abduction in Bulawayo, last night claimed that Muchehiwa — a journalism student and activist — had “fled” the country and his case Anton Piller case against them had collapsed, a claim Muchehiwa’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole said is misleading. An Anton Piller order is a court order which requires the defendant (Impala) in proceedings to permit the plaintiff (Muchehiwa) representatives to enter the defendant’s premises in order to obtain evidence essential to the plaintiff’s case.
Sithole said the application did not collapse, but Impala simply did not comply with it. While the High Court in Bulawayo granted the order, Impala dodged compliance by rushing to open a case with the police in Braeside in Harare to hand over the documents to them, thus frustrate Muchehiwa’s bid as law enforcements — who almost certainly know the CIO abducted the victim — would not share the papers. Sithole said: “We had made an Anton Piller application to ensure Impala produces certain documents and information that would assist our client in his case.
“We got a judgment in our favour, but they did not comply. But since Tawanda is now in South Africa, they made an application for a dismissal of our case in that regard on an attorney-client scale, which is punitive. We are challenging that. Yet we cannot proceed on other issues since our client is outside the country.”
But Sithole said Muchehiwa had not run away, contrary to what Impala claims. He said he had gone to South Africa for security reasons as the Zimbabwean state had failed to protect him. It is the primary responsibility of any state to protect its citizens. Sithole said the 22-year-old journalism student was traumatised by the abduction and gruesome torture.
“They brutalised, frustrated him and they are now celebrating a nullity. The fact is that Tawanda went to South Africa for security reasons as the state here failed to protect him and was thus, he was feeling unsafe after his horrific experience. If the state exposed him to risk, as it did, he had to seek sanctuary somewhere else. The matter is not over. We are seeking private prosecution,” he said.
“For now he is in South Africa and is on and off (health-wise). Last week, he wanted to commit suicide by hanging, but, luckily, he was rescued by his relatives who then took him to a certain institution for counselling.”
Mathuthu last night said Impala chief executive Thompson Dondo’s claim Muchehiwa ran away was false.
“That is simply untrue. Tawanda didn’t run away. He went to South Africa for security and medical reasons,” he said. “Let’s be clear about this issue. Let’s not be all over the place. The issue is Tawanda was abducted by state security agents and Impala was an accessory to that crime. If Impala is on the side of justice and not the state, let them cooperate in practice, not just by making noise claiming to be doing so when they are not, and avail the records of the car that was used to abduct him. Why are they protecting the abductors?”
Muchehiwa was abducted on 30 July in Bulawayo by a security hit squad known as the Ferrets, which comprises operatives from CIO, military and police, a day before anti-government protests which shut down the economy in major cities and towns across Zimbabwe.
After abduction in the company of his relatives and the now removed MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial women’s leader Tendai Masotsha —who is suspected of entrapping him — Muchehiwa was driven out of town and tortured for three days. He was only released after the High Court gave police 72 hours to produce him. The judge accepted that the police knew who was holding him. Doctors said Muchehiwa’s kidneys were failing when he was taken to hospital. Sithole said the investigation into Muchehiwa’s case was “unjustifiably taking long”. He said police keep on re-assigning the investigation to different teams.
“There is nothing much happening at the moment concerning that case (Muchehiwa’s abduction). There is a new team that came from Gweru and took over the investigations. They came two weeks ago,” Sithole said.
“We have never heard from them since then. We are still waiting for them to complete their investigations and then we will take it from there. Whoever is trying to investigate is taking forever. The delay is unjustifiable.”
Bulawayo High Court Justice Evangelista Kabasa in September ordered Impala and the Harare High Court sheriff to give Muchehiwa information that will assist him in unravelling the identity of his abductors. Muchehiwa’s abduction was captured on CCTV and it later emerged that one of the vehicles used in the abduction belongs to Impala. However, the car rental company has not been forthcoming with the information regarding the identity of the person who hired the vehicle. It has also not been cooperating on releasing GPS information showing all the places the vehicle went during the time of hire. As a result, Muchehiwa sought the court’s intervention and an order was granted in his favour to have access to the details. However, Impala wriggled out by handing over the documents to the police instead of the court, showing they are desperately trying to protect CIO and other state security agents who abducted Muchehiwa.
30 July – Tawanda Muchehiwa is abducted from Tile & Carpet Centre in Belmont, Bulawayo;
August 1- Bulawayo High Court gives police 72 hours to bring up Muchehiwa;
August 1 – A badly brutalised Muchehiwa is dumped near his Mahatshula home at 10pm;
27 August- ZimLive releases CCTV footage of Muchehiwa’s abduction;
28 August – Impala Car Rental owner confirms the company hired out the Ford Ranger used in the abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa;
9 September- Students stage demonstration at Impala Car Rental headquarters in Hillside suburb, Harare;
10 September – Zinasu leader Takudzwa Ngadziore arrested for leading protests at Impala Car Rental;
11 September -Bulawayo High Court orders Impala Car Rental to release information on vehicle used in Muchehiwa’s abduction (Anton Piller order);
18 September- Ngadziore assaulted and arrested for addressing a Press conference 100 metres away from Impala Car Rental, in Hillside, Harare;
18 September -Journalists also assaulted at the Impala Car Rental press conference;
24 September- Impala Car Rental lawyer denies claims that the company gave false information on the person who hired the car used in Muchehiwa’s abduction;
15 October- Students lock up Impala Car Rental offices in Harare’s central business district, arguing the company was complicit in Muchehiwa’s abduction;
16 October – Ngadziore is freed on bail;
27 November – The NewsHawks exposes Impala-CIO links and
1 December – Impala denies any links but fails to wriggle out.