Sheffra Dzamara
Sheffra Dzamara, wife of Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara, joins a protest to mark one year since his abduction in Harare on 9 March 2016 REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Today, 9 March, marks exactly two years since Zimbabwean journalist turned pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara, went missing after he was abducted by a group of men as he was having a haircut in the capital, Harare.

Before his abduction, 36-year-old Dzamara, was the head of the Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) protest movement, and had been staging sit-ins in the Harare square close to the presidential office demanding President Robert Mugabe resigns.

Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara
Zimbabwean activist Itai Dzamara was abducted in Harare Facebook

His abduction came after he had been interrogated by state security institutions several times and allegedly assaulted by the police, which led to his hospitalisation together with his lawyer, Kennedy Masiye.

Twenty-four months after five men suspected to be state security agents handcuffed him, hustled him into a white vehicle with masked number plates and drove him away, his family is still without news from Dzamara.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) today said the unresolved abduction is "a clear sign that the human security of Zimbabwean political activists and human rights defenders is a major issue of concern".

ZimRights said it is "concerned by the apparent lack of interest by the authorities in solving this major human rights issue in total disregard of the High Court order of March 2015, which mandated state security institutions to find Dzamara".

The United States Embassy in Harare on Thursday called on the local authorities "to mobilise the full extent of their resources" to investigate the disappearance.

Echoing ZimRights, US officials stated the lack of progress in the investigation "raises doubts" about the intentions of the authorities responsible for the case.

Concerns over chronic 'abductions'

Abductions of a similar nature have been carried out recently, as documented by IBTimes UK.

Early last September, Silvanos Mudzvova, a vocal activist within the Tajamuka protest movement, was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead.

This came as the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) was increasingly becoming the target of violence after it participated in mass mobilisation and staged peaceful protests.

One of its representatives, Kudakwashe Kambakunje, also known as Wellington or Welly, was allegedly abducted on 27 September and found the next morning badly injured at a farm about 22km from where he was kidnapped. He was found severely beaten.

When IBTimes UK spoke to the Chairman of NAVUZ, Sten Zvorwadza, the activist claimed: "When these things happen, they (attackers) are doing it with the total blessing of a state that protects them. The suffering that Silvanos and Wellington are going through is beyond imagination."

Less than two weeks later, Dzamara's brother, Patson, also an activist, was arrested with several others in Harare as they held a protest. He was subsequently released.

Zimbabwe's alleged state-sponsored kidnap victims speak out against the regime IBTimes UK