HomeEditorial CommentMagombeyi abduction: Why is govt panicking?

Magombeyi abduction: Why is govt panicking?


When we were kids, we used to enjoy a certain joke, in which a bus was stopped at a checkpoint, where police officers started searching all the bags in the luggage compartment, when they came across one that contained illicit drugs. They then asked the passengers whose bag it was, to which a certain man seated at the back suddenly stood up shouting that it was not his, and neither were the drugs.

Needless to say, the police immediately arrested him, as his reaction had been very suspicious, and pointed to his possible guilt.

This joke has been on my mind recently, as it pertained to an isssue that is far from being a laughing matter — the government reaction to the reported abduction of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) acting president Peter Magombeyi over the past week and the hospital and court drama that followed his bid to seek medication in South Africa for neuro-cognitive and psychological dysfunction.

As much as Magombeyi has since been “found”, apparently dumped by his abductors some 40 kilometres outside the capital Harare, he is still undergoing the relevant intense medical examinations by both his own private and government doctors, under the supervision of his lawyers and the police.

Law enforcement agents have, however, not yet had the opportunity to interview him regarding the alleged abduction, as they await the finalisation of medical examinations — but, public opinion has expectedly been polarised as to exactly what happened to the doctor.

On one hand, there are those who have already concluded that the state had a hand in this, but obviously the state and its sympathisers have been categorically dismissive of such claims.

However, there is absolutely no way of reaching a definitive conclusion without the alleged victim being interviewed by the police, and subsequent thorough investigations being carried out.Herein lies the problem.

Without the alleged victim having been formally interviewed by the police, and no conclusive evidence having been availed, the government and its various mouthpieces have been issuing out rather troublesome and worrisome statements ever since the alleged abduction took place.

As much as anyone who finds him or herself being unfairly and wrongly accused of a crime has every right to pronouce his or her innocence, but the outright panicky manner in which the government has gone about this matter raises some serious questions.

It is one thing denying one’s involvement in a crime, but it is completely something else going full throttle trying to discredit the entire crime — well before any thorough investigations have even commenced.Why the panicky reaction?

If someone believed that they were being wrongly accused of, for instance, stealing from a bank, why then go all the way even questioning the authenticity of the theft itself without waiting for investigations to be completed?

Why not just proclaim one’s innocence, and stop there? As with every accused person’s right — he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty — the burden of proof being entirely on the plaintiff.

Yet, what we have been witnessing from government circles has been nothing short of something akin to the joke I mentioned earlier — with claims ranging from there being an unseen and unproven “third force” behind the surge of abductions witnessed this year, to accusations of self-abductions — both bent on tarnishing government image in the face of the United Nations General Assembly summit starting this week — and even questioning the initial statements made by Magombeyi soon after he “resurfaced”, especially his phone battery still being functional after five days of abduction, and his ability to recall being held in a basement being tortured using electricity, yet being forgetful of nearly everything else.

The government and its mouthpieces even questioned why it would shoot itself in the foot by abducting someone, whilst on a “re-engagement” drive with the international community.

Well, let us start by poking holes in the latter assertion by government. When Zimbabwe attained Independence from Britain in 1980, one of its first missions was to engage the international community in order to seek acceptance as a civilised member of the global family — by shedding off the “terrorist” tag that had been hounding the former liberation movement during the struggle days.Yet, what did this newly independent “civilised” government do?

It launched a brutal genocidal massacre of over 20 000 innocent men, women and children in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces from 1983 to 1987. That was surely not the behaviour of a government on the path of “reconciliation” and “re-engagement”.

Thus, if the government could engage in such brazenly brutal acts, in the midst of polishing up its image, what is to stop them from abducting supposed “enemies”, including labour rights activists who are merely exercising their constitutional right in clamouring for better wages and conditions of service?
This is on top of the alleged threats that these same labour activists had been receiving prior to the supposed abductions — threats that were seemingly never investigated satisfactorily.

Secondly, the fact that Magombeyi’s phone still had a usable battery after days of abduction should never surprise any right-thinking person. To begin with, anyone who is abducted is abducted for a reason — and as such, if Magombeyi was abducted as a supposed “enemy of the state”, then his abductors would surely want to obtain as much information from him as possible in relation to his activities, contacts and communications — his phone being the best place to start.

Would that then not mean his alleged abductors keeping his battery well charged, during the cumbersome process of going through all the information in his phone — a process that can take a very long time, especially if it is encrypted.

Therefore, why would it be a huge mystery that his phone battery was still functional when he “re-emerged”?Besides, his alleged abductors could have simply switched off his phone during the course of the abduction — as even his colleagues attested to the fact that he was unreachable. If my own phone’s battery longevity is to be taken into consideration, when switched off, it can last for more than a week.

In the same vein, if the abductors intended to eventually release Magombeyi — and possibly make it appear as if the doctor had simply vanished of his own accord, they would certainly dump him together with his phone as well as all his other belongings.

On the issue of Magombeyi’s ability or inability to remember only certain aspects of his alleged abduction, this is a matter that only doctors who are examining him can conclusively say. However, if he had been drugged by his abductors, surely would he not experience such memory lapses?

I am certain that those who have experienced heavy drinking in their lives would confirm that there are periods of blackouts characterised by rememberance and non-rememberance of certain things that occurred whilst drunk — the most traumatic or emotionally-charged likely to be more readily remembered than others.

Thus, if Magombeyi can recall being in a basement and being tortured using electricity, yet virtually remembers nothing much else, I would assume that, as probably the most traumatic part of his alleged abduction, that would be ingrained firmly in his memory more than other aspects.

Moving on to the issue of blaming a “third force” or even self-abduction in an effort to tarnish the human rights record of the government, especially with the impending UN General Assembly summit this week, and the visit by the UN special rappoteur to the country last week — only thorough investigations by law enforcement agents, coupled by substantive evidence, can conclude for certain.

However, circumstances put paid to such allegations. Firstly, as a fair number of both labour and opposition activists have alleged receiving threatening phone calls and messages, containing the senders’ numbers, to what extent have investigations into the subscribers registered under those numbers gone? Once those people have been identified, it can be ascertained who was, and is, truly behind these alleged abductions.

The theory that these supposed abductions are intended to tarnish the human rights record of the government, ahead of important visits and global events, can only be verified once those who sent the threatening phone calls and messages, and subsequently, the abductors, have been identified and convicted.

Nonetheless, as much as the timing of Magombeyi’s supposed abduction may be questioned, the timing of his “release” can similarly be questioned.

If the intention of the alleged abduction was to tarnish the human rights image of the government ahead of the crucial visit by the UN special rappoteur, and UN General Assembly summit, then why release Magombeyi at the climax of this plot — when the issue was gaining the “desired” global momentum — well before the UN General Assembly summit commenced and the special rappoteur compiled his or her report?

That simply does not add up. If supposition is to be thrown upon another supposition, then the “early” release of Magombeyi would, in fact, have served to tone down the pressure on the government.

Of course, as much as these are merely assumptions to be expected in an educated and democratic society, that will never be a substitute for thorough investigations by law enforcement agents, which we understand will start with the questioning of Magombeyi after his medical examinations.

However, the different reactions to his supposed abduction have expectedly ignited fierce debate in the country, and other reactions have raised more questions than answers.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Social justice activist, writer, author and speaker. — zimjustice@gmail.com, or WhatsApp/call: +263 733 399 640, or calls only: +263715 667 700, or +263 782 283 975.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading


  1. You may try as much as you want to hide behind the finger, protecting enemies of the state and their sarogates but the main problem is that this so called oposition is made up of short sighted people with childish minds like the writer of this article. It does not take a clever person to know that if there was any credible signs of torture on the silly doctor, studio seven would have long back confirmed the official results of the medical examinination. But because there are no such signs, the doctors are still dumb. They are even trying to smuggle the silly actor out of the country without telling us about the signs of torture on Magombeyi! Most importantly, they cannot even tell us that they have discovered the presence of a dangerous unknown substance in the childish actor’s blood which was alleged by this same publication a week ago, which fact would also have been published long back buy studio whatever. Instead, these so calle doctors are turning to another silly trick, that Magombeyi is mentaly ill!!!

  2. But the mental ilness narative is not an easy option because it has many problems. First, you cannot have his mental state examined by Magombeyi’s specialist alone with no representative specialist on behalf of the accused and say you have credible evidence against the government. Secondly, you cannot convince the world that an individual who is not mentaly sound has very valid and credible evidence against the government! How do we believe the narative of someone whom we know for sure is insane??? So the main point is Mogombeyi was never abducted and any fool now can tell. His zimbabwean doctors may not be capable of confirming his sanity but they should surely be competent enough to confirm torture by electric shock. If a competent doctor can confirm such things on a coprse, what more on a surviving victim who can help by giving first hand information on what was done and on which part of the body. All this talk about abduction and torture were stage managed by individuals not so wise for stupid reasons.

  3. The problem with the opposition is that their drama is done by childish people who cannot hide their shenanigans. You do not keep repeating the same trick over and over again because that would make it some sort of your trademark. You did it when President Mnangagwa was about to attend the Sadc summit where you knew he would asume chairmanship on Politics Defence and Security and you used the same trick. Faking of abductions involving political nonentities like the gonyeties of this world. When the summit was in progress, you provoked law enforcement agents hopping to get one or two hooligans killed like you did in August of 2018 and blame it on President Mnangagwa so that his collegues would feel they could not give him the post since he could not take care of the security of his own people. You even tried to hand over a petition for the sadc heads of state but they would have non of the nonsense and they told you they would not tolerate it and you came back with the raw egg on your face. What a shame!!

  4. This time arround, you picked a rumour that the first lady was billed to be honoured at the un summit by Havard University for her hard work with regard to health issues and you were at it again, faking doctor abduction and inciting doctors to go on strike while the so called Mdc City Fathers totaly shut down water to harare so as to trigger a masive health disaster in the capital while our president and his wife was representing the nation at the un summit. The idea was to spite the first lady, making her unsuitable for the honour she was due to recieve since his hasband’s government was not good at solving health problems and worse still was an abductor and killer of doctors. You do not need to be exceptionaly smart to see through some of these things. So you cannot fool anybody by these childish antics. Magombeyi was never abducted and you know it very well. He has probably already left the country without his doctors scientificaly confirming the torture but that is what we were all waiting for!! Shame.

Comments are closed.