Last of activists abducted in December released by Zimbabwe’s authorities

The last three political prisoners who were abducted by state agents in Zimbabwe in December 2008 were released on bail on Friday. Kisimusi Dhlamini, Andrison Manyere and Gandhi Mudzingwa were among more than 30 human rights and political activists who were victims of enforced disappearances and subsequent illegal detention.

They were in detention for more than four months. Both Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi Mudzingwa were among those who were tortured by state agents. Amnesty International who condemned the abductions gave the releases a conditional welcome.

“Their release is long overdue and it means that they can finally begin the difficult process of dealing with the trauma of being the victims of such severe violations,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s expert on Zimbabwe. “Hopefully, this is the last we see of this kind of activity by Zimbabwe’s authorities.”

Kisimusi Dhlamini, Andrison Manyere and Gandhi Mudzingwa were granted bail on 9 April. However, the state attempted to block their release by notifying its intention of appealing to the Supreme Court to reverse the order.

Since the state appeal was not lodged within the seven days stipulated by law, the detainees were released. They continue to face charges of terrorism, widely believed to be fabricated by the state.
The other former prisoners of conscience and political detainees who were victims of enforced disappearance and illegal detention also still face similar charges.

Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi Mudzingwa were both under police guard at Avenues Clinic where they were receiving treatment having been tortured by state security agents following their enforced disappearances. Andrison Manyere was being held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

Amnesty International called on the government to investigate reports of missing activists who were allegedly abducted by state agents between October and December 2008.

“It is a scandal that the new government has still not fully investigated the enforced disappearances of more than 30 people last year,” said Simeon Mawanza. “Nor have allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the victims been investigated by the authorities. In fact, the state appears to be protecting the perpetrators.

“The fact that these activists continue to face charges casts doubt on the commitment of the government to end the culture of human rights violations used by the previous government against perceived opponents.”

Simeon Mawanza added that Amnesty International was especially disappointed by the “hands-off attitude” by Southern African Development Community and the African Union, despite clear evidence showing that ZANU PF is undermining the Global Political Agreement.