BULAWAYO – A court on Saturday gave police 72 hours to produce the nephew of ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu, two days after he was abducted at gunpoint.
Justice Martin Makonese ordered the Officer in Charge of the Criminal Investigations Department’s Law and Order Section and the Officer Commanding Police in Bulawayo Province to investigate the disappearance of 22-year-old Tawanda Muchehiwa.
Muchehiwa, a third-year university journalism student, was seized from a vehicle in the second city of Bulawayo by men driving in two pick-up trucks at around 12PM on Thursday – and has not been seen since.
Mathuthu’s nephews Advent Mathuthu and Mandlenkosi Mathuthu were also snatched in the same incident, before a raid on his house by six armed officers armed with a search warrant which accused him of producing “subversive material” for anti-government demonstrations that were planned for July 31.
Police detained Mathuthu’s sister Nomagugu Mathuthu as bait but later released her.
Police deny they are holding Muchehiwa – but in Justice Makonese’s chambers on Saturday, two nephews of the journalist who were also taken at the same time, but were turned over to police, said the abductors should be known to the police.
Police did not oppose the ‘habeas corpus’ application, but requested that the 48 hours to produce him demanded by Muchehiwa’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole be altered to 72 hours.
Justice Makonese ordered: “The respondents be and are hereby directed to investigate the whereabouts of Tawanda Muchehiwa and produce him at the Magistrate Court, Tredgold Building, Bulawayo, within 72 hours of the granting of this order.”
The police are required to bring him to court by 2PM on Tuesday.
Muchehiwa’s lawyers from the Media Institute for Southern Africa say his detention is “illegal and unlawful”. Sithole said Muchehiwa was being stitched-up to reel in Mathuthu, who exposed million-dollar procurement corruption at the health ministry which sucked in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons Shaun and Collins.
The raid on Mathuthu’s house came just days after journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who collaborated with ZimLive on the corruption expose, was arrested and charged with incitement of public violence.
Mnangagwa’s regime boasts that it has repealed draconian public order legislation and unpopular media laws, but rights groups say the repression is worse than under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe virtually shut down on July 31 as the military and police closed off cities and towns. Opposition activists said the stay-way was a success.
Source: Zim Live