- 6 years after Itai Dzamara’s disappearance, wife Sheffra can’t stop grieving
In March 2015, then 35-year-old journalist Itai Dzamara was seized by unidentified assailants while he was getting a haircut at a barbershop near his home in the Glenview suburb of Harare, never to be seen again.
For Shefra, Itai’s wife, who apparently does not know whether to identify herself as a widow since her husband’s disappearance six years ago, contending with sorrow has become a trend for her.
“My message on this day is that we will not forget Itai and we pray that we get answers and we hope the government will help us find him or to get his abductors.
“Life without him is hard. Imagine living for six years without knowing where he is or what happened to him,” she said.
Sheffra was speaking ahead of the annual commemorations of the United Nation’s August 30 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
Paddy Dzamara, Itai’s brother, said the family will never tire of seeking closure.
“As a family, we will continue to seek closure to what happened to Itai. It is something which is and will always be of high concern to us till there is closure,” said Paddy.
But it is not only families of disappeared journalists like Dzamara who still nurse their emotional wounds following the unexplained disappearances of their loved ones.
Opposition MDC Alliance Member of Parliament Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were allegedly abducted two years ago, and claimed that following their abduction, they were sexually abused and forced to drink their own urine.
The three women disappeared then after being detained by police in Harare while on their way to an anti-government protest in Harare.
Henry Chimbiri said his daughter’s abduction left his entire family shaken, and to this day, they are still traumatized.
“My experience is very disheartening. My family is suffering from psychological torture. When my daughter was abducted by state security agents, we could not stomach the situation of having to go for more than 48 hours without traces of her whereabouts.
“We lost the appetite for food – my wife and I – and we could not sleep. It is stressful and health-straining to have your child abused and tortured by people who are supposed to protect her,” he said.
Jestina Mukoko, director for the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a non-governmental human rights organization, said enforced disappearances affect the victims and their families negatively and it is a scar they will live with.
Mukoko herself was abducted from her Norton home during the Robert Mugabe era and was tortured for weeks on end. She won compensation from police and donated it to charity.
“It is inhumane and degrading to subject citizens to enforced disappearance, especially for a nation that aspires to be democratic. This is one crime that has transcended colonial time and is a practice Zimbabwe is failing to shake off,” said Mukoko.
For 42-year-old Pieta Kaseke, a well-known political activist with the opposition MDC who is unmarried and childless, it never rains, but pours.
She was abducted on October 31, 2008 by police officers whom she said handed her over to the country’s dreaded central intelligence officers who subjected her to further unlawful detention and torture.
Together with several other MDC activists back then, Kaseke faced charges of banditry, sabotage and terrorism. For her, commemorations for the disappeared only reopen old wounds.
“The world commemorations of the disappearances day sicken me because it brings back memories of the torture I went through at the hands of police and secret state operatives when I was abducted in 2008,” she said.
Even though Kaseke sued authorities here for Z$1.2 million, she has very little to show for it as she was only given Z$800.
According to the UnitedNations, 49 cases of abductions and torture were reported in Zimbabwe in 2019 alone. □
- via Anadolu Agency