Tortured MDC activist dies from injuries

mdc_logoA former MDC security officer who was tortured by state security agents in March 2007 died two weeks ago, from the injuries he sustained. Reports of his death have only just been received.

Gift Nhidza was one of several activists arrested when police brutally crushed an opposition protest in Harares Highfields suburb. Gift Tandare, a National Constitutional Assembly activist, was shot dead while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was brutally assaulted by police. Nhidza was initially tortured using electrical shocks and beaten underneath his feet. The Chairman of the MDC Veteran Activists Association based in South Africa, Solomon Chikohwero, told Newsreel that although Nhidza fled to South Africa, the regime pursued him there. Four months after fleeing Nhidza sought employment in the farms around the Messina area close to the border. It was there that members of the Central Intelligence Organization abducted him and took him back to Zimbabwe.

Nhidza was taken to a torture base in Odzi, his home area. The then Transport Minister and now Manicaland Governor Christopher Mushowe, is said to have instigated his abduction and torture. Nhidza was beaten with iron bars on his arms and legs, sustaining 3 fractures on the leg and several others on his arm. Additionally his spinal cord was broken in 3 different places because of the beatings. His abductors had dumped him on a road inside Spiro Farm, hoping he would be run over by trucks in the area to make it look like an accident. Chikohwero told us they later saw Nhidza when he again fled back to South Africa, but this time his condition was much more serious and he was walking with the aid of crutches. He described him as emotionally and psychologically traumatized. Nhidza like many Zimbabwean refugees found shelter at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg.

After several months, as his condition worsened, he told his colleagues he wanted to go back home and die in his home area. Several organizations such as the Solidarity Peace Trust chipped in to help him with bus fare to go home. Chikohwero said they had to negotiate with the bus company that took him home because they have had many cases of passengers dying during the journeys. Fortunately the bus conductor was from the same area as Nhidza and agreed to have him as a passenger. Nhidza died, and has been buried, at home. He gave his life to try and bring peace and freedom to Zimbabwe.

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