By Veneranda Langa/Desmond Chingarande/Moses Matenga
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has taunted the three MDC Alliance abductees of being “very happy to be at the hospital” where they are recuperating at a private hospital in Harare after being tortured by suspected State security.
Addressing Parliament yesterday, Ziyambi said the trio was refusing to co-operate with detectives investigating them for violating lockdown rules and leading an anti-government demonstration before their alleged abduction last Wednesday.
The three — Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova — were allegedly abducted in the capital on Wednesday and found two days later dumped 80km away in Bindura, sexually abused and traumatised.
“It is a fact that the said individuals broke the law in that we have lockdown regulations that prohibit demonstrations,” Ziyambi said.
“So these individuals are wanted by the police so that they can be interviewed on why they broke the law.
“The same individuals are not co-operating with the police, but seem to be very happy to be at the hospital.”
He added: “As far as the allegations of torture are concerned, if they have anything against the police or against the alleged torture, they are free to report it and the police will look at the allegations.
“Why did they decide to break the law? And one of them is a legislator.”
Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova were abducted last Wednesday after staging a flash demonstration in Warren Park. They went missing for two days and later found dumped at Muchapondwa business centre in Bindura South, heavily battered.
The three are in hospital, and only one has been interviewed by the police while others are still to be questioned after their doctors, who included government health practitioners, agreed that they were not in a stable condition to be interviewed.
The three claimed they were sexually abused with a gun, forced to drink each other’s urine and physically assaulted.
Manicaland senator Douglas Mwonzora asked Ziyambi to explain what government is doing to investigate the issue and ensure abductions and torture do not happen again.
“Police still want to interrogate them over violating the lockdown rules, and if they have a complaint on allegations of abductions, then government can look into that,” Ziyambi responded.
“Indeed, we acknowledge that an allegation of abduction was made, but it is not something substantive because what is known is that the said individuals broke COVID-19 lockdown rules.
“They decided to undertake a demonstration in Warren Park that had the potential of putting the public at risk.”
The Justice minister also alleged that the three purported to have parked Mamombe’s vehicle at a police station.
“What has not been ascertained is whether they were tortured or not. Government has no business to abduct people,”he said.
“What we have seen is that some people became irrelevant when government was busy dealing with COVID-19 and they started to demonstrate to get relevance.”
The international community has demanded thorough investigations of the alleged abductions in Zimbabwe.
Yesterday, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) raised concern over arbitrary arrests, abduction and torture of citizens by alleged State security agents, saying such behaviour coming from a police service had no place in a democratic nation.
This followed the torture of the three MDC Alliance officials and assault of sisters Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu by the police officers purporting to enforce lockdown regulations in Bulawayo.
LSZ said the police should investigate such complaints in a professional way swiftly and transparently, saying it was the State’s duties to ensure that sufficient safeguards and the protection of citizens were put in place.
This came as police on Wednesday arrested MDC Alliance Harare youth chairperson Stanley Manyenga for violating lockdown regulations when he participated in the flash protest that landed Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marowa in trouble.
Manyenga is expected to appear in court today, his lawyer Gift Mtisi has said.
This came as police yesterday said the number of lockdown violators had risen to 35 638, with the majority arrested for failing to wear face masks, defying movement restrictions and liquor-related offences.
In a statement last night, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also warned haulage and private vehicle drivers against giving lifts to inter-city travellers, saying these were frustrating efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The alleged physical and sexual abuse of the MDC Alliance activists has attracted international attention, with the heads of mission of the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States delegations calling for a credible government investigation on the abduction of the trio.
“The perpetrators of the heinous acts of this kind and other human rights violations need to be identified and prosecuted,” the joint statement by heads of missions on human rights situation in Zimbabwe read in part.
They also called for genuine dialogue between political actors to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, which the MDC Alliance said was becoming a threat to regional peace.
“The heads of mission further urge all protagonists to resolve political conflicts through constructive dialogue and remain clear that international re-engagement is contingent on genuine and sustained implementation of political and economic reform.”
The US Senate Foreign Relations committee chairperson Jim Risch said: “I join the heads of mission in calling for thorough and credible investigations and prosecutions of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, to include the abduction and torture of Hon Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova last week.” News Day