Zimbabwe court orders search for Dzamara

File photo. A Zimbabwean holds a national flag. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

The High Court in Harare on Friday ordered the police and security agents to search for missing anti-government activist Itai Dzamara, who was reported abducted four days earlier, one of his lawyers said.

In his order Judge David Mangota said police should advertise on state radio, in newspapers, and give fortnightly reports on their investigations to the registrar of the high court. “We went to court and as expected the police came and denied knowledge of Dzamara’s whereabouts,” lawyer Charles Kwaramba told Sapa.

“We got the order for the state to advertise on TV, radio, in newspapers, and also an order for them to work with Dzamara’s relatives and lawyers to take whatever steps necessary to find him.”

Dzamara was snatched from a barber shop and bundled into a waiting car by unknown men in Harare on Monday. He has not been seen or heard from since. Many in Zimbabwe believe that state security agents were behind the abduction. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he held President Robert Mugabe’s government responsible.

Kwaramba said the order granted on Friday compelled police to give progress reports to the court on their investigations.

“There’s a bit of discomfort [for the police] in the order,” he said.

“That slight discomfort is a step in the right direction.”

Dzamara’s “Occupy Africa Unity Square” protests, staged peacefully in a central Harare park since October, were not widely supported but the former journalist has earned increasing respect from many Zimbabweans for his courage in confronting Mugabe’s government, and calling for the 91-year-old president to step down.

Dzamara’s abduction has brought back memories of the forced disappearance of human rights activist Jestina Mukoko in late 2008. She was held incommunicado for several weeks before finally being brought to court on trumped up charges. Kwaramba said he remained hopeful that his client would be found.

“This has happened before many times. We are hopeful that he will show up at some police station. Or [in] the worst case scenario, we’ll find his body.”

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