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Jestina Mukoko Raps Govt for Dismissing Abduction Victims

Human rights activist and director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project Jestina Mukoko has criticised the state for dismissing cases of forced disappearances as fake abductions.

She was speaking in a Zoom meeting organised by Amnesty International under the theme ‘Unpacking Enforced Disappearances in Zimbabwe’.

The meeting was in commemoration of the UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

“It makes me mad…because I know what I went through. I don’t see the reason why the next person would come and say someone would fake an abduction. When you look at the wounds that those people have sustained, the manner in which they have been traumatised, you can’t inflict that on yourself. It makes me really angry when people continue to spew this kind of narrative”, Mukoko lashed.

She questioned the rationale behind the police and government saying they investigated and concluded that an abduction is fake, without revealing the people involved, witnesses or those who conducted the investigation.

This according to Mukoko consequently leads to the abuse of those accused of faking abductions by some quarters of the public.

“Talk of the young MDC women who were abducted and severely tortured. They are called mvana (young unwed mothers). Why have they all of a sudden become mvana? Simply because they have spoken about what they went through?” she lamented.

Mukoko said enforced disappearances do not only affect victims, but also traumatise their families.

She recounted: “My family almost gave up, thinking I had died. This negatively impacts our families. If I’m late by a few minutes getting home, I will find my son by the door saying ‘couldn’t you have at least called, I was worried about you’. He fears a repeat of what I went through”.

Jestina Mukoko was herself abducted by state agents and subjected to torture for three weeks in 2008.


In 2018, the High Court ordered the State to pay her a total of US$150,000 in compensation for the abduction, incommunicado detention and torture she suffered.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Director Dr Musa Kika said there has been a rise in the spate of abductions since November 2017, with 24 cases reported in 2018 and 67 in 2019. He added that 14 cases have been reported in 2020, of which 11 of these were linked to the crushed #31July demonstrations.

National Peace and Reconciliation commissioner, Rev. Charles Masunungure expressed dismay at the reluctance of the public to report cases of abduction to the commission, attributing this to lack of confidence and trust in public institutions.

Human rights lawyer Kennedy Masiye pointed that this distrust stems from the demonstrated impunity in Zimbabwe: “In January 2019, women were raped and the government said people should report. We all know what happens when people report. They end up being charged for faking abductions.”

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Masiye highlighted that there should be legislation criminalising abductions, as Zimbabwe has been skirting conventions and instruments that frown on enforced disappearances.

Human rights laywer with the Legal Resources Foundation Cedric Dube added that it is difficult for abductions to end as there is no accountability because the state pardons and grants amnesties to some perpetrator of abductions, as happened in Matebeleland after the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 80s.

The United Nations marked 30 August as a day of raising awareness, expressing concern over the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world.

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