ZIMBABWEAN police are coming under intensifying pressure and growing scrutiny over the recent abduction and murder of opposition activist Pastor Tapfumaneyi Masaya ahead of by-elections next month.
Police at Mabvuku Police Station in Harare’s eastern township have been given names of suspects who are known in the community where Masaya was kidnapped and eventually killed.
“Police were given the names of the suspects. One is a driver of a Zanu PF candidate at municipal level. He is well-known in some areas of the community.
“Then there is a law enforcement agent based at Mabvuku Police Station. Locals say he is a Central Intelligence Organisation operative. There is also a lady who was involved in identifying opposition activists targeted for attack, including Masaya. These people were seen by locals and are linked to the murder crime,” an informed inside source told The NewsHawks.
“However, police are not moving fast enough to act. By now all those people or suspects should have been arrested and kept under lawful police custody to facilitate further investigations. We can’t have a country where people are killed in cold-blood with impunity in the name of politics and nothing happens. That political culture must stop.”
Mabvuku residents are still in a state of shock and anger over Masaya’s killing, which has left his wife, children, family, relatives and friends in deep grief and feeling vulnerable without a breadwinner.
Last Wednesday, sorrow enveloped Shashe Crescent in Mabvuku as mourners gathered to pay their last respects to the cleric and pro-democracy activist killed in yet another case of suspected state-sponsored abduction, torture and murder.
They were restless and anxious awaiting an update from family members and area leadership that had gone to the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for a post mortem to determine the actual cause of death.
When the body eventually came showing that it was battered and disfigured from the impact of brutality that deepened the pain. Masaya was abducted in broad daylight during a door-to-door campaign on Saturday 11 November 2023, drumming up support for the opposition party’s MP candidate, Munyaradzi Febion Kufahakutizwi, who was recalled from Parliament by an activist posturing as the party’s secretary-general, Sengezo Tshabangu.
By-elections will be held on 9 December in the five constituencies whose MPs were recalled. Masaya’s mutilated body was discovered two days later at the intersection of Arcturus and Lobo roads in Cleveland area and positively identified by his wife at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals mortuary despite having been swollen.
The body was found naked. A few hours after our arrival at the core house where Masaya and his family had lived till Saturday 11 November, some distraught, but intoxicated opposition party supporters belted out songs that accused the Zanu PF candidate for Mabvuku-Tafara constituency and a close ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya as the person behind the abduction and murder of Masaya.
“Scott ndiwe wakauraya hazvina mhosva pahukama. (Scott you are behind this murder, but it is okay),” they would break into song. The song was sung repeatedly, while many people bemoaned the fact that a peace-loving pastor was killed just because someone desperately wants to enter Parliament.
“Amai nababa musandicheme kana ndafa neZanu, ndini ndakazvida kubvisa Zanu pamwe chete nevamwe vangu (Mother and father, do not mourn me when Zanu PF kills me. It is I who chose to remove Zanu PF from power alongside my friends),” they sang.
In between the silence and the songs were screams and cries from relatives who would intermittently arrive at the Masaya residence.
Masaya left behind a wife, a son and two daughters. Although the murder was shocking, human rights and opposition activists say violence has been an operating manual for the ruling party and state security agents.
The murder was widely condemned locally, regionally and internationally. Tonderai Dombo, a party member and wellknown activist who was part of the search party, said Mabvuku residents know Masaya’s assailants and have given their names to the police.
“We have since made it known to the police that those people were positively identified during the abduction of two of our members. Unfortunately, one of them didn’t make it back home to his family, that is why we are gathered here to mourn his death,” he said.
Mourners expressed frustration at the lack of action by the police.
“We know that Mabvuku police has got all the names which we have made known to them; the people who were part of the entourage of vehicles that hijacked and abducted our comrades,” said one of the mourners.
“So the matter has been reported to the police and we are surprised that the police have not acted.” The deceased’s brother, Edwin Masaya, said they would want perpetrators brought to book by the authorities and justice to prevail.
“From the pain induced by this murder, we would be hoping that the perpetrators would have bad things befall them or even have them caught by the police and arraigned before the courts,” he said. “We have seen and heard that opposition activists’ disappearances and murders are barely a priority for the police, but we do not know who did this.”
Amid the confusion surrounding the abduction and murder and all the emotions around the loss of a father, a husband and a church leader, presidential spokesperson George Charamba claimed the identified body is not that of Masaya.
He did not produce any evidence and his claims later proved to be false, malicious and misleading. Before Masaya’s disappearance, Harare youth quota member of Parliament Takudzwa Ngadziore was abducted, but managed to expose his abductors on social media.
He was dumped in the Mt Hampden area a few hours later after the faces of his tormentors were all over social media, forcing them to abort their sinister mission. It was Ngadziore’s second abduction, with the first one occurring outside Impala Car Rental where he ended up at Harare Central Police Station. On 23 October, former member of Parliament for Mabvuku-Tafara James Chidhakwa was abducted and dumped in Arcturus.
His dreadlocks were cut and his feet were bleeding, suggesting he was cut with sharp objects. He also suffered a fractured leg and pelvis.
Earlier on 2 September 2023, Harare’s elected ward 27 councillor Womberaiishe Nhende and Sanele Mkhuhlane were abducted in similar fashion, by men in an unmarked Toyota Fortuner vehicle at Selbourne Routledge in Harare.
They were dumped in Mapinga, about 73 kilometres from Harare and, in line with the modus operandi, they were injected with unknown substances. In the aftermath, on 16 October 2023, Harare West lawmaker Joana Mamombe sent an SOS that gun-toting men had jumped into her home’s yard on an unknown mission.
On 27 August 2023, former Marondera West councillor Nelson Mukwenha (2018-2023) under the MDC-Alliance was abducted after he jumped to the defence of Citizens’ Coalition for Change spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi, when Law and Order section police details, who had not identified themselves, wanted to forcefully snatch Mkwananzi during the Press briefing.
A few hours later, CCC put out a notice that Mukwenha had been abducted but had been found.
On the eve of the 23 August elections, Tafadzwa Chitsunge, a CCC supporter, was killed in cold blood during an election campaign programme in Glen View, Harare.
His killers are all out on bail, and they were not charged with murder but, surprisingly, incitement to commit public violence.
In the run up to the by-elections of 26 March 2022, another CCC activist Mboneni Ncube, was killed in cold blood at an opposition rally.
In 2020, Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were abducted from Harare Central Police Station and dumped in Mashonaland Central province. In every election period, lives are lost.
Zimbabwe has a long history of political violence, brutality and murder, especially during elections. – STAFF WRITER