THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has ordered the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to investigate the abduction of a Chiredzi man, Kariborn Nyemba, by two senior officers in the army and police.
By Hazel Ndebele
The development comes at a time it emerged Nyemba’s abductors, Captain Edmore Gono and Inspector Henry Dhowa, took him to State House where the director of State Residences Innocent Tizora ordered his immediate release. Gono and Dhowa took Nyemba to State House in Harare, saying he had information about people who wanted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Nyemba was abducted in May last year for his perceived links to fired former vice-president Joice Mujuru. A complaint to the ZHRC was then filed in July 2015 by Chiredzi West MP Darlington Chiwa at the request of Kariborn’s brother Simbarashe after police in Chiredzi showed no interest in investigating the abduction.
An investigation by the ZHRC established that Nyemba, who has since escaped and is in hiding, was indeed unlawfully detained by the security officials, hence the directive that the army and police should investigate the matter.
The ZHRC established that after the security officials left State House they did not release Nyemba as was ordered by Tizora, but kept him in a guarded small room at Gono’s house. Gono and Dhowa failed to justify the detention when interviewed by ZHRC officials.
“Dhowa did not offer any justification for the detention of the complainant in a place that is not legally recognised as a detention place, the ZHRC therefore finds that the detention was unlawful and, on that basis, complainant’s right to personal liberty was violated,” reads the report.
The commission ordered the army to investigate and discipline Gono.
“ZNA should investigate and take disciplinary measures against Gono for usurping the work of the police and illegally detaining the victim in an illegal place (his private residence) which is not designated for detention,” the report reads.
Nyemba told ZHRC officials he was tortured in captivity.
“The ZRP should investigate Dhowa’s conduct and take disciplinary measures against him for not following standard procedures in executing his duties and for detaining the victim in a place not legally designated for detention purposes,” the ZHRC said.
The ZHRC also demanded that the ZRP guarantee and ensure the victim’s security when he returns to his home in Chiredzi.
According to the report, Nyemba said he lost his mobile phone in a bar in Chiredzi in April last year.
The next day, he was summoned to Chiredzi Police Station as a suspect, as his phone had allegedly been recovered at the torched Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers’ Union (Zismiu) offices the previous night. Nyemba says he presented himself to the police, but was told to report to an Inspector Hondo who was on leave. Hondo informed him he would be called to the police station when needed, but was never called.
Nyemba says unidentified people came to his house at night and threatened to set his house on fire and threw stones on his roof.
Nyemba went to South Africa to look for employment and upon his return to Chiredzi he was allegedly intercepted by Dhowa and Gono at Renco turn-off. They drew pistols and allegedly bundled him into the latter’s car.
His abductors allegedly ordered him to confess that he had connived with his brother Simbarashe and former Zismiu secretary-general Edmore Hwarare to burn the union’s offices. They also forced him to admit he was part of meetings with Mujuru where they plotted to kill Mugabe.
Asked by ZHRC officials why they drove the victim to Harare yet he knew he was wanted in connection with arson, Dhowa said he was fulfilling his duty because the victim had mentioned that some people were plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
Dhowa could not explain why the arson case has not been investigated to date. He also failed to explain why he, being a senior police officer, agreed to have a suspect in his custody at a private house without informing Hondo who was responsible for investigations at the police station.
Nyemba told ZHRC officials that Gono indicated that he and his wife had a “licence to kill” and would not hesitate to use it if he attempted to escape.
“He alleges that he was kept locked in the guarded small room, naked and sometimes with no food during that period.
Gono would fire some shots near his ears, slap him and assault him with open fists,” reads the report.
“On the third day, he managed to escape by tricking a young girl who was instructed to give him food as Gono, his wife and Inspector Dhowa were not at the homestead. The victim reports that he took refuge in a hiding place where he still is to date.”
In his account, Dhowa said he received a call from Nyemba who was suspected of arson, stating that he was sent by his brother and Hwarare to burn Zismiu offices. Dhowa allegedly advised Nyemba to go to the police, but he refused, indicating that he only trusted him (Dhowa) and Gono “because they hated corruption and that all the other police officers at the station were corrupt”.
Dhowa told ZHRC officials they decided to help the victim to report the matter at State House.
Gono, according to the report, gave a similar account to that of Dhowa, saying they had provided protection to Nyemba and that he stayed comfortably at his house for two nights. Gono also said Nyemba was keen to deliver his message to Mugabe, hence the decision to take him to State House.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she was not aware of the ZHRC recommendations.
“I do not know what you are talking about. I do not know of such a report as it did not get to me,” she said.
Revelations of the involvement of security agents in Nyemba’s abduction comes at a time missing journalist-cum-political activist Itai Dzamara, who was abducted in March last year, is still missing. The police have shown little appetite to investigate his abduction.