WITH tears welling up and slowly streaming down her cheeks, Sheffra Dzamara, wife to abducted journalist-turned-civic activist Itai Dzamara, poured her heart out — releasing her inner feelings and thoughts in a sudden cathartic weep of despair — about her marriage, the abduction on March 9 which left a great void in her life and the most painful three months without her “soulmate”.
“I miss my husband; I miss Itai terribly,” she said as she wiped her brow with a trembling stroke, adding “my heart is heavy with pain, fear and sadness”.
“Every evening I am expecting he will just knock at the door and say ‘Mai Nokutenda, I am back’ and this is the feeling that has kept me hoping he is still alive wherever he is,” she said.
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“You do not know what it means when his three-year-old daughter, Nenyasha says today dad will bring me chips and chicken or when she fires you with a question ‘mama, when is dad coming back?’
“Nokutenda, who is seven years old, does not even want to look at pictures of his dad holding those placards at Africa Unity Square. He sometimes just sits down and sobs and it has been like that for the past three months, close to 100 days now.
“It has been very difficult three months for me and I am pleading with those holding him captive to release him for the sake of his family. He may have sinned against you in whatever way — only God knows — but for our sake forgive him and set him free.”
Sheffra would sob uncontrollably as she narrated her ordeal to the Zimbabwe Independent crew on Wednesday.
Sheffra married Itai (36) in 2006 and they have two children. They currently live in a three-roomed cottage in Glen View, Harare.
She said the family has been surviving on food hand-outs from well-wishers and some human rights organisations.
“Since Itai was abducted, a number of well-wishers have come to our rescue by providing us with food and other basic things. Human rights organisations are leading the pack in providing for the family,” she said.
Next Tuesday marks 100 days since Dzamara was abducted close to his home by five unknown men suspected to be state security agents, and has not been seen or heard from since.
Prior to the abduction, Dzamara had led a number of peaceful protests against the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe and had petitioned President Robert Mugabe to resign, allow electoral reforms and fresh free and fair elections to save the nation from further agony.
Two days before the kidnapping, he had addressed an MDC-T rally calling for mass protests against the worsening repression and economic situation in the country.
Mugabe’s regime usually takes no chances when it comes to those who call for mass uprisings even if they remotely threaten its political survival.
Sheffra (32) said she feels let down by the law enforcement agents who claim to have no clue about his whereabouts.
“I have always had respect of our security system which has always delivered on various issues. When a thief strikes and terrorises people, we are always certain that our police will apprehend the culprit and bring them to book. But in the case of Itai, they say they have no clue; can a person just disappear just like that in this day and age?”
Various conspiracy theories have been thrown around about Dzamara’s disappearance, with people linked to Zanu PF and the state suggesting he fled to Botswana or somewhere abroad, but his wife dismissed these allegations with contempt.
“We have heard of such reports, but can someone go to Botswana or South Africa or even Dubai dressed in a pair of shorts, some sleepers and a Manchester United soccer jersey?” she queried. “For what reason?”
Pressure is now mounting on the government to find him.
The international community, through their embassies in Harare, have been piling pressure on Mugabe and his government to prove its innocence as well as play a leading role in efforts to find him.
Mugabe’s regime, in the court of public opinion, is the main suspect or even guilty given its record of abductions, human rights abuses and killings.
This week the European Union called on the government to ascertain Dzamara’s whereabouts.
“It has now been three months since the abduction of human rights defender and leader of Occupy Africa Unity Square, Itai Dzamara, on 9 March. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” reads the EU statement.
“The EU is increasingly concerned about the lack of progress made by the authorities in this case and recalls the legal obligation of the Zimbabwean authorities to provide regular and thorough progress reports on their search for Mr Dzamara, as reminded by the High Court.
“The EU once again reiterates its call on the government of Zimbabwe to take all necessary measures to ascertain Dzamara’s whereabouts, safeguard his wellbeing and accord him the full protection of the law, within its overall responsibilities of ensuring the safety of all its citizens.”
Churches, politicians and the civic society have also ratcheted the pressure on government by calling for a prayer meeting on Sunday to mark 100 days of Dzamara’s disappearance.
Posting on a social media group, organisers of the event who declined to be identified for fear of victimisation, called on all civic groups and opposition parties to be at the Zimbabwe Grounds on June 14 for the event.
On the social media, Dzamara’s disappearance is always trending.
Former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and the ex-ruling party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo were listed among those likely to attend the event.
“June 14 2015 will mark 100 days without knowing the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara after his abduction by Mugabe’s rabid agents,” reads the post.
“Zimbabweans have been expecting to have him released by those who did this heinous act. Churches and civic society organisations have calendared 14 June as the day when tens of thousands of Zimbabweans will gather for the Bring-Back-Itai-Dzamara prayer rally.”
Family spokesperson Patson Dzamara, brother to Itai, said the whole Dzamara clan is holding fast on fading hope, sometimes hoping against hope he will be found alive.
“It has been a surreal and painful experience for us. We wake up everyday hoping to hear good news and anxiety is taking its toll on us. It’s unbearable. However, we are still holding on to hope. We are still praying for the safe return of Itai.”'