BULAWAYO – A court has ordered a car rental company to turn over vehicle tracking data and all other information it holds on a customer who is the main suspect in the abduction and torture of university student Tawanda Muchehiwa by state security agents.
Muchehiwa, the nephew of ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu, was stalked and then abducted in Bulawayo by men driving in at least five vehicles on July 30, the eve of planned anti-government protests.
He was driven out of town and badly tortured while being accused of planning the overthrow of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The 22-year-old journalism student was dumped near his home three days later after the High Court gave police a 72-hour deadline to produce him.
An investigation into the abduction by ZimLive established that police knew the abductors. In the same raid, two of Mathuthu’s nephews were taken to the main police station together with an official of the MDC Alliance who was in their vehicle.
CCTV footage of the abduction obtained by this website also revealed the number plate of a Ford Ranger vehicle, which led our investigation to Impala Car Rental in Harare.
Police have shown little appetite of investigating Muchehiwa’s abduction, and his lawyers are reportedly considering private prosecutions and other actions in international courts.
Under the order granted by Justice Evangelista Kabasa on September 3 at the behest of Muchehiwa’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole, the Sheriff was directed to “recover from Impala Car Rental all documentation and information relating to the hire of a Ford Ranger motor vehicle registration numbers AES 2483 over the period between July 26, 2020, and August 6, 2020.”
The information to be handed over includes “a route map indicating the places and distances travelled by such vehicle over the period aforestated as recorded by Impala Car Rental’s automated vehicle tracker system.”
Sithole, speaking on Friday, said they were being frustrated by the Sheriff in Harare who was served with the judgement on Tuesday, September 8, but said he would only have executed it on Tuesday, September 15.
Impala owner Thompson Dondo previously insisted that he would only hand over the information to the police, resisting social media calls to publicly release the information.
Outraged human rights campaigners and concerned Zimbabweans have popularised the hashtag #ImpalaMustFall on Twitter, and the company’s Facebook and Google ratings have suffered as questions remain over how much the company knew about how its vehicles were being used.
On Tuesday, over a dozen rights activists camped outside Impala’s Harare office holding placards denouncing the company as an enabler of abductions and torture, while demanding justice for Muchehiwa.
Zimbabwe National Students Union leader Takudzwa Ngadziore was arrested on Thursday accused of participating in an illegal protest. A magistrate on Friday said she was overwhelmed with work as she postponed his bail hearing to Monday.