HRARE – A reward of US$10 000 is being offered to anyone with vital information pertaining to the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara.
Robert Mugabe’s government is feeling the heat from the growing pressure by opposition and civil society groups demanding the release of abducted journalist-turned activist Itai Dzamara.
The police is appealing to the general populace, any civic and non-governmental organisations who might have any information on Itai Peace Kadiki Dzamara’s whereabouts to contact Officer Commanding CID Law and Order Division, Assistant Commissioner Makedenge on 04-251505.
They can also contact Officer-in-Charge CID Law and Order Harare, Detective Chief Inspector Runganga on 04-753411; Police General Headquarters Complaints Desk on 04-703631 or any nearest police station.
It is alleged that on the 9th of March this year, three unknown men entered a barber shop in Glenview, Harare, where Dzamara was having a haircut and advised him that he was under arrest for stock theft.
They dragged him out of the barber shop and bundled him into a white Nissan Hardy body Double Cab whose registration number was only captured as ABB2 and was driven away to an unknown location.
Police investigations conducted so far have failed to yield any fruitful results.
The state owned but Zanu PF controlled Herald newspaper on Thursday ran with a story narrating what it said were results from investigations by the police. In the story the paper tried to paint the picture that Dzamara had not been abducted and was instead hiding in Botswana with help from the opposition.
To buttress its claims the paper relied mainly on police interviews with controversial musician Energy Mutodi who in turn claimed his source was a Fidelis Fengu who was in contact with South African based journalist Mkhululi Chimoio. On Thursday Chimoio rubbished the claims telling Nehanda Radio;
“On 10 March at 11.40 I sent (Fidelis) Fengu a whatsapp message asking him if it was true that Itai was kidnapped and found dead at Goromonzi turn-off. At 11.41 he responded by asking Itai who and asked for a surname of which I gave it to him at 11.42 and at 12.36 he asked when did he die?
“That was the first time I asked him of Itai, now its shocking that he went on to lie about my person. This is the evidence I have and this I can show police that their people are misleading them in their investigations instead they should investigate them further on why they are misleading and lying to them.
“The other time Fidelis spoke to me about Itai was on 18 March when he asked for my numbers as he needed to urgently call me of which I gave him and this was days after Dzamara had disappeared and he told me they were going to Botswana to look for Dzamara inline with what Mutodi posted.
‘Not even at any cost did I give or talk to Fidelis about knowing where Dzamara is. I don’t even recall mentioning any word called Botswana since I have known Fidelis in my life time,” Chimoio told Nehanda Radio.
Speaking to Nehanda Radio, Patson Dzamara, Itai’s brother said;
“As far as the coverage in state media is concerned, we are not surprised. Initially they wanted to ignore this issue but because the pressure has increased they are doing their best to cover up.
“In a way, regardless of the negative tangent they obviously assume, keeping this matter in the conversation goes a long way in establishing the truth. So it’s actually a good development, in my view. We however remain adamant that the state is our primary suspect.
“They are reacting to the increased pressure. They thought the pressure and noise would die down just like that,” Patson added.
Political commentators interviewed by Nehanda Radio also agreed the Herald story betrayed the growing pressure the government was facing over the abduction. Last weekend leaders from most of the main opposition parties attended a prayer rally at the Zimbabwe Grounds demanding Dzamara’s release.
Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya from the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) told Nehanda Radio “The most important thing about that story is that efforts by various groups to make the state accountable are bearing fruits.
“It means that the government is getting enormous pressure to account. It also tells us that the state may not be innocent in this case. Moving on, the pressure must continue to be piled until the truth about this heinous crime is laid bare.”
Dzamara was abducted from a barbershop in Glen View on the 9th of March. The four men who abducted him first accused him of stealing a cow before they bundled him into a white Isuzu twincab vehicle.
In October last year Dzamara was arrested after he called on President Robert Mugabe to step down in a petition that was delivered to the presidential Munhumutapa Offices. Since then he had been arrested, assaulted and tortured several times for his ongoing protest at the Africa Unity Square in Harare.