SIX years have passed by since journalist-cum-activist Itai Dzamara disappeared after he was abducted by suspected State security agents on March 9, 2015 in Harare’s Glen View high-density suburb.
His wife, Sheffra Dzamara (SD) told NewsDay (ND) senior reporter Miriam Mangwaya that she was still seeking closure to the case. She said despite insignificant progress on the government probe into his disappearance, she still hoped that she would one day get to know what happened to Itai.
ND: How has life been like since your husband disappeared?
SD: It has been very painful to survive without knowing his fate. Not even a single day passes without me thinking about him. I lose sleep if I ponder about what really happened to him. If he is alive, is he well? What kind of place is he staying at?
How are the abductors treating him? Why are they keeping him? Is he in good health? I am living a life of imaginations, wishes, longings and unanswered questions. If he is alive, it hurts to imagine how he, as a captive, must be longing to be freed and reunite with his family. Each day I wake up with expectations that I will get to know what happened to him. His children ask questions about his whereabouts, which I fail to answer. I have a son who is 13 and has grown without experiencing his father’s affection. But in Shona, there is a saying, munhu haarovi (a human being cannot disappear forever). Indeed one day, the whole world will know the truth of what happened to him.
ND: Over the years, what updates have you received from the government or the police with regards to investigations into Itai’s whereabouts?
SD: I haven’t received any information as yet on any further probe into Itai’s disappearance from the government despite calls for authorities. I do not even know if there are any investigations taking place. In my personal capacity, I have exhausted all efforts to search for him.
ND: How have you been managing to take care of the children?
SD: Family members have been taking care of our two children. I also hustle to earn money. We are now depending on well-wishers for our daily upkeep.
Life has changed a lot for the three of us as we have to adapt to surviving without the head of the family. Human rights groups have been giving me psychological support to help me endure life without my husband.
However, I hope that one day I will know what really happened to him. That hope keeps me going.
ND: What challenges are you facing in terms of bringing up the children singlehandedly?
SD: I have become very protective to my children because of fear of the unknown. My children do not even go to play where I cannot see them. After their father’s abduction, I just don’t want to lose sight of my children. What if I lose them too?
Because I really do not know why Itai was abducted and who the perpetrators are, as a parent, I am cautious about the safety of my children. I am afraid they can face the same fate as their father. But I am not boasting that I can protect them against all evil that can befall them. At the end, it is God who protects them.
ND: How has Itai’s brother, Patson’s death affected you and your children?
SD: Patson’s death was a huge blow to us as a family, especially at a time we were worried about Itai’s disappearance. When he was still alive, we found solace in his company. He was standing in as the father of my kids. He would give us hope. He kept the family in high spirits and united us as we battled the psychological trauma of his brother’s absence. May his soul continue to rest in peace.
ND: What is your message to whoever was involved in Itai’s disappearance and to anyone with information on his whereabouts?
SD: To those who were involved in his disappearance, I want to warn them that there is a time for everything. Those responsible for his disappearance might succeed from hiding the truth, but not forever. I appeal to those with information about his whereabouts or what happened on that fateful day to assist. I have nothing to offer. I am just a woman who is desperately waiting for the return of her husband. To those who care, they should also know that as a family, we have not yet forgotten about him, and we will never forget him.
ND: Six years on, if you had a chance to speak to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, what would you say to him?
SD: I have always been making the same requests for the past six years to government authorities. Even if I meet President Mnagagwa today, I will still make the same request. I wish he could intervene. For the sake of the two minor children, we just plead for Mnangagwa’s intervention so that we locate him.
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