By Brenna Matendere/Blessed Mhlanga
Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has sought the intervention of the United Nations to facilitate investigations into the alleged abduction and torture of his three party members by suspected State security agents on Wednesday last week.
Party secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatywayo yesterday wrote to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer in Geneva asking for an international probe team to visit Harare and investigate the matter.
Hlatywayo said the MDC Alliance no longer had faith in government probing its security services because of the Zanu PF-State conflation, hence the decision to appeal to the UN.
Part of the letter read: “My name is Gladys Hlatywayo and I am the secretary for international relations for the Movement for Democratic Alliance party (MDC A) led by advocate Nelson Chamisa in Zimbabwe.
I am writing to your mandate to formally request support for an independent inquiry into the recent abduction, torture and sexual abuse of three female youth leaders of our party.
“This particular abduction is not isolated as the MDC Alliance has recorded 49 abductions by State agents outside the latest case since August 2019. In January 2019, 17 women were sexually assaulted by members of the military.
“These violations are happening with impunity as no investigations are carried out and perpetrators are not held to account. In this particular latest case of the three MDC Alliance young female leaders, the police spokesperson [Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi] initially confirmed to the State-run newspaper, The Herald, that the three had been arrested, but the police later tweeted denying responsibility.
Please open the following links for the two contradicting statements made by the police.”
Hlatywayo told NewsDay it was time to bring the abductors to book.
“We have written to push the justice envelope. The manner in which the young women were first put in police custody and later handed over to unknown people is a serious indictment on the credibility of our institutions.
“Given this party-State conflation, it is, therefore, an impossibility for State organs to conduct a credible investigation. We are mobilising the international community to support our bid for justice for these young women.
“Torture, abductions and sexual abuse are serious international crimes and any norm-violating regime must be held to account. The crimes also obviously violate our national charter and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged,” she said.
Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, youths assembly deputy chairperson Cecilia Chimbiri and vice organising secretary Netsai Marova were reportedly arrested at a police roadblock in Warren Park, Harare on May 13 while protesting against the harsh economic conditions under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Police initially told the State media that the activists were taken to Harare Central Police Station, but later recanted the statement, saying they were unaware of their whereabouts.
The women were found dumped in Bindura two days later, heavily traumatised.
They told journalists that they were blindfolded and whisked out of Harare Central Police Station and driven out of the capital, where they were thrown in a pit and tortured by suspected State security agents.
MDC Alliance secretary for public service and social welfare, Maureen Kademaunga yesterday doubted government’s commitment in investigating the matter. News Day