Fearing contempt of court proceedings initiated by human rights lawyers on Thursday 02 April, 2015 for failing to comply with a High Court order obliging them to report on progress they have made in searching for the missing human rights defender, police are now claiming that they are doing all they can to locate Dzamara, who was abducted in early March.
Fortune Chimbaru, the Acting Director in the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office recently furnished the Registrar of the High Court with what she claimed to have been a “fortnightly update of investigations” conducted by the ZRP on the missing Dzamara.
But human rights lawyers have taken issue with what Chimbaru referred to as a fortnightly update as it is just a letter containing five-paragraphs addressed to the Director of Legal Services at the Police General Headquarters and prepared by Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge, the Officer Commanding ZRP CID Law and Order Division.
Lawyers charge that the update is totally insufficient and cannot be considered as a report because it doesn’t contain crucial specifics of a police probe including details of people whom the ZRP officers interviewed during the purported investigations which they carried out.
Lawyers charge that by submitting such a “report”, the ZRP is just trying to find a way out of contempt of court proceedings instituted against them together with Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe and the State Security Minister by Sheffra, the wife of the missing pro-democracy activist and freelance journalist for failing to comply with a High Court order obliging them to report on progress they have made in searching for the missing human rights defender.
The contempt of court proceedings, which were filed in the High Court on Thursday 02 April, 2015 were a follow up to the habeas corpus application filed on Monday 9 March 2015 by human rights lawyers to compel whoever is holding Dzamara to bring him before the court so as to determine if he should really be in detention.
Sheffra Dzamara, through her lawyers led by Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, wants Mohadi, Chihuri and Bonyongwe to be imprisoned for 90 days for disobeying a lawful court order issued on Friday 13 March 2015 by High Court Judge Justice David Mangota directing them to brief lawyers on progress and cooperate with them in their efforts to conduct the investigations as a team.
In the application for contempt of court Sheffra charged that Mohadi, Chihuri and Bonyongwe were guilty of contempt of court after they intentionally disobeying a court order by not reporting any progress of the search for Dzamara as required of them by Justice Mangota.
On Friday 13 March 2015, Justice David Mangota ordered Mohadi, Chihuri, Bonyongwe and the State Security Minister to dispatch a team of police detectives to work closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to search for the freelance journalist at all such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the law and report progress of such search to the Registrar of the High Court by 1600 hours every Friday fortnightly until his whereabouts have been determined.
But in her application, Sheffra argued that the respondents had not complied with the provisional order and hence Dzamara’s fundamental rights including the right to life; to the protection of the law; to access to relatives, family and friends; to access to his lawyers; to freedom of movement and association, remain under threat with each day that passes without him being found.
Failure to locate Dzamara, Sheffra said, makes the need for Mohadi, Chihuri and Bonyongwe to comply with the provisional order extremely urgent.
Sheffra said the respondents must account for every minute that goes by because as the State, they have a duty to protect citizens.
The 35 year-old Dzamara, an iconic figure in Zimbabwe’s pro-democracy movement was abducted on Monday 09 March 2015 by some unidentified men who were travelling in a white twin cab vehicle with a blurred registration number plate from a barber shop, where he was having a haircut in Harare’s high density suburb of Glenview. He has remained missing since then.Post published in: Human Rights