BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A leading Harare-based car rental company has been drawn into an abduction and torture saga involving a 22- year-old university student ahead of the July 31 protests.
Tawanda Muchehiwa, a Midlands State University student, was brutally tortured by suspected state security agents on the eve of the protests against corruption that were suppressed by the army.
The government has been denying allegations that Muchehiwa, who is also a nephew of Zimlive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu, was abducted by state security agents.
CCTV footage of the abduction in central Bulawayo, however, has given hints on who the abductors could be.
One of the cars involved in the abduction was hired from Impala Car Rental and its owner Thompson Dondo said they were ready to reveal the identity of the people who hired the car.
“Following a social media video clip which implicates one of our rental vehicle (registration No AES 2433) in the alleged abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa in Bulawayo, Impala Car Rental would like to advise all our valued stakeholders that we are really concerned with this matter,” Dondo said in a statement as anger grew over the case..
“As a service provider, we are limited in controlling where and how vehicles hired out will be used because clients are not obliged to disclose their vehicle hiring purposes.
“It is very possible that some clients may use our vehicle for criminal activities without our knowledge and it is not our intention to cover up such information.”
Dondo added: “As Impala Car Rental, we stand obligated to cooperate with any investigations by the law enforcement agents into this matter so that Tawanda Muchehiwa gets justice.”
Zimbabweans on social media urged the company to make public the names of the people who hired the car.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said he could not comment over the latest revelations as he was out of office.
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old Bulawayo woman who was allegedly abducted and tortured on the eve of the July protests was on Friday forced to seek refuge at a South African police station because suspected Zimbabwean security agents were tailing her.
Noxolo Maphosa, a nephew of exiled Josphat Mzaca Ngulube, was forced to flee to the neighbouring country following her ordeal this month.
Her abductors wanted her to reveal Ngulube’s whereabouts after the activist was also forced to flee the country after police indicated they wanted to arrest him in connection with the protests.
Both Ngulube and Maphosa were interviewed on SABC News’s African Perspective programme about their ordeals.
“I never believed that Zanu PF had dirty people in South Africa until yesterday [Friday] evening,” Ngulube said.
“I stay in separate places with Maphosa and her child.
“I had to go to a place where they were hiding to give them food. When I approached the entrance of the place, there were two men who looked suspicious,” Ngulube said.
“Maphosa told me that they heard funny knocks at their apartment.
“As I was talking to them, two cars parked nearby with around 11 gentlemen, who were talking like Nigerians.
“I phoned security of the place and we were picked by a guy driving a Volkswagen.
“We realised that an Isuzu and Fortuner vehicle were following us.
“We went into a high-speed chase with them and they were flashing lights on us.
“We hope from our report the cars will be picked by cameras around the place we were being followed.”
Ngulube said he then contacted journalists at SABC, who had interviewed them to raise alarm.
The government denies allegations that security agencies are behind a spate of abductions and torture of its critics.