Suspected State Security Agents Abduct, Torture Zimbabwe Civil Society Activist

Daniel Molokele

Tatenda Mombeyarara, a pro-democracy campaigner, has been hospitalised after he was abducted on Wednesday and tortured by some unidentified men, who seized him from his residence in Chitungwiza.

Accordingly to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the 37 year-old Mombeyarara was abducted by six heavily armed men who assaulted and severely tortured before dumping him at a quarry mine near Hatfield suburb in Harare.

“Mombeyarara’s tormentors wanted him to furnish them with details pertaining to an anti-government protest organised by the opposition MDC party and scheduled for Friday 16 August 2019.

“During interrogation, the unidentified men asked Mombeyarara, a well-known human rights defender, about the number of people expected to attend the demonstration and other details such as how the protest had been organised.”

The lawyers group also claimed that the unidentified men also interrogated Mombeyarara about the training which he allegedly received in Maldives in May.

“Although Mombeyarara denied any involvement about organising the anti-government protest and any knowledge of the details of the demonstration, his tormentors continued torturing him using a torture method commonly referred to as ‘Falanga’, which entails beating the human rights defender under his feet.”

Over the years, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has documented several cases, where state security agents used the Falanga torture method against human rights defenders in a desperate bid to extract confessions during interrogations.

Mombeyarara is one of several people arrested in May and charged with subverting constitutional government for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. He is currently out of custody on remand and his trial is yet to commence on charges on contravening section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Police were not reachable for comment.

Reacting to the abduction, MDC vice president Tendai Biti in a tweet said, “The abduction and torture last night of activist Tatenda Mombeyarara & last night’s assault on other activists is completely unacceptable. This regime is murderous &has been consistent in its attacks on the citizen. The continued assault on human rights must stop.

“It is fair to say that since Emmerson took over, political space has shrunk & the rights of citizens have systematically been muzzled. There has been a massive increase in deaths, violonce, rape, detentions, mass trials & the systematic use of torture as a weapon. This is #fascism.”

The Ministry of information has not yet reacted to the alleged abductions but only focusing on the planned protests.

In a tweet, the ministry said, “In the light of planned demonstrations by the opposition MDC Alliance, Cabinet implores all Zimbabweans to completely reject the culture of violence and intimidation which is counter-productive and inimical to the full enjoyment of freedom by peace-loving Zimbabweans, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

:Government calls on all progressive Zimbabweans to desist from being used by negative forces to destabilise their own country, as this will only prolong the hardships … All patriotic Zimbabweans … to resort to dialogue and other constructive forms of engagement as means for resolving the challenges we face as a nation. Government will nonetheless, ensure that law and order prevails in the country.”

MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele said the public march will continue as planned despite the abduction of activists and threats to the party leadership and members. – VOA