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Spare a thought for Dzamara’s traumatised wife

By Pauline Hurungudo

Sheffra Dzamara is not relenting in her demand for justice for those behind the disappearance of her husband, Itai Dzamara, nearly four years ago.Her husband was getting a haircut one morning in Budiriro when four men bundled him into an unmarked vehicle and sped off.

Sheffra Dzamara, wife of activist Itai Dzamara, holds a photo of her husband as her 2 year old daughter looks up, and speaks to the Associated Press in Harare, Tuesday March 8, 2016, on the commemoration of International Women’s Day. Dzamara is pleading for the return of her activist husband Itai Dzamara who was abducted by suspected state security agents one year ago. (AP Photo)

His whereabouts and the identities of those behind his kidnapping have remained unknown ever since.

Many suspect that Dzamara’s disappearance was on account of his political activities, which could have offended the powers-that-be and led them to take matters into their own hands.

He was one of the most outspoken critics of former president Robert Mugabe.

Dzamara, like many others, openly fingered Mugabe for turning what was once viewed as Africa’s most promising economy into a basket-case.

Because of his convictions, he abandoned his job at one of the country’s business weeklies and founded Occupy Africa Unity Square — a social movement that called for Mugabe’s resignation.

A few months before his abduction, Dzamara had authored a petition which he delivered along with other activists — Philosophy Nyapfumbi and Tichaona Danho — to the Office of the President, immediately landing them into trouble with the police.

While they were released a few hours later without being harmed, Dzamara became a marked man from then on.

Although government says it has no hand in Dzamara’s disappearance, all fingers point towards it.

Still troubled by the incident and burdened by the unenviable task of looking after their two children — Nokutenda and Nenyasha — Dzamara’s wife, Sheffra, is a broken but strong woman.

From the day her husband was seized from a barber shop in Budiriro, Sheffra has so many unanswered questions which not even the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been able to provide answers to.

Of Sheffra, Itai’s brother Patson had this to say“It’s been hard for Itai’s immediate family, Itai has a wife and two children and I’m sure the burden of curiosity eats them up especially the young boy now in Grade 3.

“He is aware of what really happened and he is the one who is more affected than the little girl, but the little girl is also now in a place where she is also becoming inquisitive because she has a hazy picture of what transpired. She cannot connect all the dots but she has an idea and that makes her inquisitive”.

Indeed, no child ever wants to live without their daddy. Equally, no wife wants to ever raise her children without their father by her side. Sadly, this has been the situation for Sheffra and only God can heal her broken heart. Nokutenda and Nenyasha have been Sheffra’s main source of great hope for she sees in them a brighter future.

If Dzamara was still alive, he would have been aged 39 years.On March 9, it will exactly be four years following his disappearance.The coming month would therefore act as a reminder for Sheffra and others who are still searching for clues over his disappearance.Sheffra stood by her activist husband in his efforts to push Mugabe into relinquishing office.

Less than two years after his disappearance, Mugabe was removed from office by none other than his military which felt that its commander-in-chief was no longer fit to rule.

If Dzamara was to appear in Zimbabwe today, probably his reception would be like that of Nelson Mandela, who fought for a huge cause of political revolution and democracy.

His foresighted social movement calling for Mugabe to resign has since come to pass but unfortunately, Dzamara was not there to see his dream come true.

In one of her interviews in March last year Sheffra is quoted saying Mugabe’s resignation had come three years too late.

“This was what Itai had started, that Mugabe must go,” she says. “I was happy my husband was the first one to start it.”

About the new administration, she doubts if it has the political will to deliver back her husband.

“We thought that since Mugabe resigned, we would finally have peace and my husband would return or we would learn what happened to him,” she was quoted saying.

“He (Mnangagwa) said ‘let bygones be bygones’”, says Sheffra of the new president.

“I’m not sure, but it sounded like he was saying what happened has happened. In the case of my husband, no, it’s not a bygone.

“We will keep pushing until they’ve given us an answer.”

According to an account published in African Arguments, Sheffra first met Itai on a commuter omnibus as they both travelled to their homes in the Harare suburb of Highfield after work.

She worked for a printing company and he was a reporter for a local business weekly.

Over time, she recounts, the two fell in love.

Itai honoured Sheffra and her family by paying the traditional bride price, allowing them to have a church wedding.

In the interview, Sheffra described Itai as a generous husband, who used to help his mother-in-law provide for her younger siblings and pay their school fees.

The couple’s last moments together were happy ones.

As Itai left the house to get a haircut, Sheffra asked him what she should iron for him to wear that day.

“You know how it is when you are proud of your husband,” she was quoted saying. “I wanted him to always look smart. I was ready to iron his clothes again to make him look extra neat, even though I had ironed them the night before. ”Itai laughed, she recalls, telling her he was happy to wear the clothes as they were. The vehicles that were used in Itai’s abduction later that morning were unmarked.

“He was taken at about 10am,” Sheffra said. “They told me around 11am, after an hour. They thought Itai’s abductors might still be in the area. Because of that I was terrified.

”She reported the matter at Harare Central Police Station accompanied by lawyers Charles Kwaramba and Kennedy Masiye. The police refused to assist her, saying she should go to Glen Norah Police Station instead. The next day, Sheffra succeeded in opening a docket on the kidnapping case under RRB Number 2391750.

In the following days, she heard rumours and received text messages saying Itai had been thrown in acid or been murdered. These have remained just that — rumours.

Up to this day, police are still to make a headway in their investigations but there is little hope that Dzamara will be found. DailyNews