THIS Monday marked exactly five years since pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara went missing.Although years have passed, his two children, who are now in grades six and three, regularly ask their mother when they will see their father again.
Dzamara’s abduction left a trail of pain and anxiety for the family, which has been seeking answers on his whereabouts since his disappearance on the afternoon of March 9, 2015.
He was dragged out of a barber shop by suspected state agents in his Glen View neighbourhood and was never seen again. At the time of the abduction, Dzamara was leading a daily Occupy Africa Unity Square campaign in Harare. They were demanding the resignation of the late former president Robert Mugabe for failing to address the socio-economic ills bedevilling the country.
Although it is now five years since the disappearance, his wife, Sheffra, this week said the family is still hopeful that he will be returned to them alive. She also revealed that the disappearance was still a fresh wound in the family’s heart.
“Our hearts hurt as much as they did five years ago,” Sheffra said. She said his continued absence has resulted in untold suffering and in her family’s dreams shattered.
The couple had been married for eight years before Dzamara was abducted, eclipsing the couple’s shared vision for their children.“Our lives would be on a different level if he was around. A lot of things would be different. My children would not be going to the schools they are going to at the moment. He had certain schools that he wanted them to go to, better schools. We would be enjoying life,” Sheffra told the Zimbabwe Independent.
“Things are tough and a lot has changed, Itai was the bread winner so you can imagine. The children ask about him almost every day, and they ask whether their dad is still alive and if or when he will be coming back. I do not know how to respond to that but I tell them that we should keep up the hope that he will be back and that we should keep praying for God to answer our prayers.”
Sheffra said she has never thought of moving on and none of the family members has ever raised the issue, as they believe Dzamara was still alive and would be returned to them.
“No one has talked about moving on and I have never thought of moving on. We still have hope, we are still in pain and we are still praying that we will see him again. He is someone who is full of love; he loved people, and he was truthful. No matter what, he would stand by the truth. Oh and he was so full of jokes, we would laugh all the time,” she said.
“When I see people still talking about him, I feel that at least people have not forgotten about him. I am waiting for God’s answer; I still pray and wish to see him.”
At the time of his disappearance, Dzamara was building a house in Glen View 7. Sheffra revealed the Dzamara family has been assisting her to complete the house.
“It is almost finished. The family is helping us build it and it is almost complete now. But my word to government is they should act and help us find Itai. They should not act as if they do not know that he is still missing. And on my side, I have not been given any update on how far they have gone in trying to find him,” Sheffra said.
“To Zimbabweans I want to say that we should unite and fight against abductions. Today you might say it does not concern you; it is a Dzamara family issue. But you never know tomorrow. Together we are stronger and we can stand up against abductions.”
This week, Sheffra wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, pleading with him to resolve the abduction case as she was feeling “the pain of a wife caught between hope and grief”.
“I believe someone in your government knows what happened to him. If the abductors killed him, give me his body so that I can grieve, bury him and get closure. I can also take my kids to his grave and say here lies your father. With tears, I appeal to you as the president to help me. I sincerely hope that you will help us for the sake of his two young children. I will not rest until I get answers as to Itai’s whereabouts,” she wrote in the letter.