Zim journalist tells of nephew’s abduction, torture by law enforcement

Tawanda Muchehiwa, the nephew of Zimbabwe journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, in hospital after being beaten and tortured, allegedly by Zimbabwean law enforcement officers, 4 August 2020. Picture: Twitter / @povonewstv

‘Typically, the regime lashes out whenever there is a threat to their hold in power. It happens in waves,’ said Mduduzi Mathuthu, who is in hiding.

This story contains tweets which some readers may find disturbing.

The nephew of Zimbabwean journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu is in hospital after he was allegedly abducted, beaten and tortured in a recent wave of alleged gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

His sin? He – Tawanda Muchehiwa – just happened to be at the shop with two more nephews of Mathuthu when a “third force”, allegedly known to law enforcement officers, grabbed him and threw him in the back of the truck.

“We have in the abduction of my nephew, men driving in [six] unmarked cars. Has in a shop. They grabbed him and threw him in the truck. He disappears. The two other nephews, however, were put in another car and taken to the police station,” Mathuthu said on Tuesday.

“Tawanda was blindfolded and he was driven some distance out of town. He was chained up and handcuffed. They were stepping on top of him so the doctors believe this trauma caused the renal failure,” he further alleged.

According to his uncle, Muchehiwa is not involved in politics and is merely a second-year journalism student who will occasionally share his opinion on social media.

The incident comes amid growing reports of alleged gross human rights violations in the country in which journalists and human rights activists were arrested.

The Zimbabwean journalist recently collaborated with prominent investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, to expose alleged corruption in Covid-19 procurement.

Chin’ono is in police detention but Mathuthu was not at home when his residence was raided.

“The police also came for me when he (Chin’ono) was arrested. They could not find me at home so they arrested my sister.

“They raided my house, rampaged through it and said that they were looking for subversive material that I was manufacturing,” he said.

A signed search and seizure warrant, dated 30 July 2020, stated that Mathuthu was “organising and advocating for illegal demonstrations against the Government of Zimbabwe pencilled for the 31st of July 2020”.

The warrant permitted officers of the law to search anyone on the premises and seize “cellphones, SIM cards, computers, cameras, offensive and subversive material or any material likely to be used during the illegal demonstration and any material used to manufacture any such material”.

Mathuthu is of the view that waves of alleged human rights abuses in the country always occur when the Zimbabwean government feels it is losing its power.

“We have a very paranoid government that appears to be out of solutions for the crisis of the economy and the complete lack of public trust in them resolving the issue.

“The government has elected not to resolve issues but to lash out at citizens that it perceives as influencing citizens to rise up against government. Typically, the regime lashes out whenever there is a threat to their hold in power. It happens in waves,” he said.

These incidents have prompted the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign, which aims to shed a light on the current events with the hope of finding a solution the alleged crisis.

ALSO READ: Zim’s Mnangagwa warns he will ‘flush out’ opponents

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in an address on Tuesday morning in response to the events in the country, told citizens that the country would overcome “attempts at destabilisation by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting with foreign detractors”.

“The direction we desire remains unchanged, our goal remains clear – this is the goal of peace, unity, stability, development, progress and prosperity. Although our progress has been slowed down, rest assured that we shall achieve our objectives.

“We will overcome, we will defeat the attack and stop the bleeding of our economy, we will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting with foreign detractors. Those who promote hate and disharmony will never win, the bad apples that have attempted to divide our people and weaken our systems will be flushed out,” he said.

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