CAUGHT ON CAMERA REFLECTION
Technology exposes involvement of intelligence agents in abduction and torture of Zimbabwe’s youngest MP
A video on Facebook taken by a quick-witted Zimbabwe parliamentarian during his abduction on the morning of 1 November reveals that his abductors are members of Zimbabwe’s notorious Central Intelligence Organisation .
Today I woke up to a shocking Facebook Live video from Takudzwa Ngadziore, Zimbabwe’s youngest member of parliament. He was recording himself running, as he desperately and fearfully said: “Ndirikuteverwa [I am being followed]”.
He seemed out of breath and managed to switch the orientation on his phone to capture on video footage of a large man carrying what looks like an AK-47 rifle, chasing after him. Also captured in the Facebook live video was another man, his face partly obscured, also seemingly chasing after Ngadziore.
The video and pictures of the men were shared on Facebook and Twitter with pleas to identify them, when Ngadziore dropped offline and efforts to reach him on his mobile failed. Fadzai Mahere, a MP and former spokeswoman for the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), shared on her Twitter page that they had received reports that Ngadziore was missing, and they could not get through to his phone.
About two hours after Ngadziore’s Facebook Live event, Gift Siziba, also a newly elected MP, posted a tweet saying: “We have received information that Honourable Takudzwa Ngadziore was tortured and dumped in Christon Bank in Mazoe. Our welfare and legal teams have been dispatched to locate him.”
Denford Ngadziore, a councillor who is related to Takudzwa, posted that they had found Takudzwa naked and dumped. A well-wisher assisted them with finding him a work suit. Denford claimed that Takudzwa was injected with an unknown substance.
In July 2020, when another young activist, Tawanda Muchehiwa, was abducted, disappeared and tortured, he too was injected with an unknown substance by the state agents that abducted him.
Read more in Daily Maverick: State terrorists, not human rights activists, should be the ones on trial in Zimbabwe
In September 2023, soon after the disputed August 2023 elections, a councillor by the name of Womberaishe Nhende and his friend Sanele Mkhuhlane, were also abducted and injected with an unknown substance.
The mystery of the injection forcibly administered to activists and opposition members by the government is a cause for concern.
Muchehiwa said his captors told him that he would never have children again after the abduction. He did not know if that was because of the injection or a substance they had sprayed in the car that left him itching all over.
Ngadziore was taken to hospital and pictures of his tortured and bruised body were circulated on social media. It appears as if this is yet another case where technology has saved the life of an abduction victim in Zimbabwe.
When Muchehiwa was abducted in 2020, CCTV cameras captured the incident on tape. The state has always denied carrying out abductions and disappearances. But it had no choice but to produce Muchehiwa after a judge granted a habeas corpus order.
Muchehiwa was produced at the courts by police, arriving in an ambulance and wheeled into court in a wheelchair. He had suffered renal failure, had deep wounds on his buttocks and back and told stories of unimaginable torture. It appears they intended to kill him, but because there was video footage, and the faces of his abductors were all over digital and social media platforms, they had to produce him, albeit on the brink of death.
I have no doubt in my mind that Ngadziore saved his life today by recording his abduction on Facebook Live. After the pictures were circulated, Zimlive newspaper posted an update that Ngadziore’s captors had been unmasked. State-sponsored social media trolls had already taken to Twitter claiming it was “a fake abduction”, “a skit”, “an attention-seeking ploy”, “drama”, but they had to eat humble pie after Zimlive published the following tweet:
“UNMASKED: Man seen snatching CCC MP Takudzwa Ngadziore now named as Nicholas ‘Big Daddy’ Kajese, a CIO agent stationed at Harare Central Police station. Second man hiding face named as Abraham Pasi. Both members of ‘Ferret Team’ commanded by Ishmael Mada, a CIO director Internal.”
— Doug Coltart ✊🏼🇿🇼 (@DougColtart) November 1, 2023
With his phone and quick thinking, Ngadziore not only secured his release, he has helped unmask more members of the Ferret team which is believed to be in charge of abductions, enforced disappearance and torture of Zimbabwean dissenters.
It is clear that technology and digital media are powerful weapons that can be used by unarmed civilians during times of repression.
For decades, during and after the Mugabe era, Zimbabwe’s killer CIOs have enjoyed the protection of anonymity. Technology has helped shrink the space in which these state agents can operate clandestinely. DM