BULAWAYO – Tawanda Muchehiwa, the 22-year-old nephew of ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu was tortured by state security agents over two days before being dumped near his home on Saturday night.
Muchehiwa was seized with two other nephews of the journalist on Thursday, the eve of planned anti-government protests against corruption. One of Mathuthu’s nephews, Advent Mathuthu, 25, was charged with incitement of public violence after allegedly being found with flyers printed ‘Mnangagwa & His Cabinet Must Resign’, but was freed by a court.
Police also launched a raid on Mathuthu’s house but he was not there, and they took his sister Nomagugu as bait. She was released hours later.
Mathuthu said he believed the operation had the ultimate aim of seizing his electronic gadgets in a bid to uncover his sources after he recently exposed a multi-million-dollar Covid-19 procurement scandal which dragged in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons, Collins and Shaun.
A judge on Saturday gave police 72 hours to investigate Muchehiwa’s disappearance and take him before a court.
The second-year journalism student was admitted at a private hospital in Bulawayo, where doctors expressed alarm over injuries inflicted on his kidneys.
His lawyer Nqobani Sithole from the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) said they had filed a police report of his abduction and assault at Queen’s Park Police Station.
“I’m deeply concerned about the injuries suffered by my client, leading to acute renal failure. I understand his captors repeatedly stamped on him as he lay face down. He also has severe tissue damage around the buttocks and under his feet,” Sithole said.
Muchehiwa told ZimLive his captors blindfolded and drove him out of Bulawayo and stopped in the bush where he was severely assaulted, accused of plotting the ouster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
They drove further on and finally came to a farm, where he took notice of two army trucks parked there.
He was given a sack and told that was his blanket for two nights. He was fed meals of bread, and the staple isitshwala/sadza on the final day of his ordeal. He said the food looked suspicious and when he refused to eat, he was badly assaulted.
Muchehiwa’s captors also made him drink his own urine, and at one time threatened to circumcise him after ordering him to lower his trousers.
Muchehiwa remembers that when his abductors came up to police checkpoints and tollgates, the driver would say ‘Ferrets’ – believed to be reference to the ‘Ferret Team’, a rogue unit of the security services famous for abductions and torture.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) on Sunday condemned Muchehiwa’s abduction and torture.
“ZINASU is appalled by the continued targeted harassment of students by the military junta of Emmerson Mnangagwa. Tawanda’s abduction and torture sums up the character and nature of Mnangagwa’s Old Deception,” ZINASU said in a statement.
Source: Zim Live