THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has done between very little and virtually nothing in investigating the abduction of journalist-turned-activist Itai Dzamara despite local and international pressure on government to speedily establish his whereabouts, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
Police reports seen by the Independent this week provide an insight into the investigations, which show that little, if anything, is being done to find Dzamara. The reports are in the form of fortnightly updates on the investigations ordered by the High Court after Dzamara’s family approached the courts to force the police to find him.
In one of the reports dated March 30 2015, the investigating officer who is Officer Commanding the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)’s Law and Order section Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge wrote that the police have issued notices through the public and private media seeking information on Dzamara’s whereabouts.
“On 13 March 2015, Zimbabwe Republic Police, through its national police spokesperson, issued a press statement over his disappearance,” reads the report.
“It was captured in both the print and electronic media through the following publications; national broadcaster (ZBC), the Herald, Daily News and NewsDay. Through these publications, police have communicated with the outside world appealing for any information that might assist in his location.”
In another report dated April 9 Makedenge, in addition to the advertisements placed in the media, stated that human rights lawyers brought an informant identified as Stephen Sibanda to his offices, but his information did not yield any results.
“On 8 April 2015 human rights lawyer Gift Mtisi of Musendekwa, Mtisi Legal Practitioners visited the investigating officers in the company of an informant, Stephen Sibanda. His information was acted upon, but could not yield any positive results as to the whereabouts of the victim, Itai Dzamara,” the report reads.
However, in an interview on Wednesday Mtisi said they actually took Sibanda, who was part of Dzamara’s Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign, to the police seeking protection. “I took Sibanda, a member of the Itai Dzamara’s Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign, to the police because he wanted protection as he was being followed by unknown people,” Mtisi said. “I was shocked that Makedenge, instead, locked up Sibanda only to release him the following day.”
He also said he feels police are not doing anything serious to find Dzamara.
“I have been closely following the case and my feeling is that the police are not doing anything in looking for Dzamara,” Mtisi said.
Dzamara’s case was also raised in parliament on Wednesday where members of the opposition MDC-T asked government what the police were doing to find him and why they were not complying with the High Court order.
In response, Home Affairs deputy Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the police have done everything possible to establish Dzamara’s whereabouts.
“The police are doing everything to find Itai Dzamara and they are also complying with the High Court order to provide fortnightly reports,” Ziyambi said. “If the police do not have anything to report on then they cannot submit any report to the High Court,” he said.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she could not comment as she was not at work and referred all questions to her deputy, chief superintendent Paul Nyathi.
Nyathi, however, refused to shed light on the issue saying: “My friend, call madam Charamba on that issue.”
On being told that Charamba had directed the questions to him, Nyathi insisted Charamba was the best person to comment.
Dzamara family spokesperson Patson Dzamara lashed out at the police saying they were failing to do their job.
“We feel police should and could have done much, much more. The way they have handled this matter leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of grey areas. For instance, the police have never engaged us in the process of ‘investigations’. That is very curious and worrying,” he said.