Tortured activist on the run

In the run-up to the July 31 elections, exiled MDC-T founding activist Ishmael Kauzani decided it was time for him to return home and complete the fight for change.

Ishmael Kauzani
Ishmael Kauzani

He had been hounded into seeking political exile in South Africa in 2008, after he was severely tortured and left for dead by state security agents. His brother Godfrey and his best friend Beta Chokururama were murdered by state security agents in an operation that also targeted him in Murehwa that year. Kauzani survived that attack after responding quickly to his party’s calls for him to flee the country.

However, encouraged by events on the ground that pointed to a landslide victory for his party, Kauzani moved back to Harare, where he continued his activism.

When President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) “won” the disputed poll, in which a large volume of evidence of rigging has been amassed by human rights activists, retribution began – and once again Kauzani was a target. He has lived in hiding for weeks, after renewed threats on his life by state security agents.

“In the first week of August, I received a call from someone who said he was Detective Assistant Inspector Run’anga of Harare Law and Order section, telling me to report to Harare Central,” he told The Zimbabwean this week.

“I did not go there because of past experiences. I then got another call from one Jichichi, a PISI (Police Internal Security Intelligence) detail who was said to be looking for me. I did my own investigations and found out that police wanted to arrest me on false allegations that I was recruiting some youths and army guys to cause civil unrest.

“The information was said to be coming from the MDC-T leadership. One of our youth leaders who was recently released from custody told me police were looking for me in connection with the Machipisa bombing. He said police believed that because I am the secretary for Security and Defence in of Harare, I was responsible for the attacks.”

Property worth thousands of dollars went up in flames in a dawn raid on September 28, after a Zanu (PF) ward office at Machipisa Shopping Centre and the party’s Jongwe Printers were “petrol-bombed”.

“Last Monday I left Harvest House around 4pm. About 500metres from the office, three strong-looking men greeted me by name, before two of them grabbed me without saying anything. I fought them, managed to break loose and ran back to Harvest House,” said Kauzani.

“The men gave chase up to the front door. The next, one of our young members told me that he received a call from central police station, asking him to report to CID Law and Order, where he was handed over to a police officer called Nyikasulu.

“He was told that he and I were responsible for the bombing of the Machipisa Zanu (PF) office and Webster Shamu’s service station in Budiriro. He was told that they would get me. When I visited my girlfriend’s house in Kuwadzana at the weekend, I was told that the police were looking for me. My girlfriend was nowhere to be seen and I am now living in great fear because I don’t know what is ahead of me.”

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