Today (3 December) marks exactly 6 years since former ZBC TV presenter and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home around 5am by six men and a woman who did not identify themselves.
In her testimony Mukoko who leads the Zimbabwe Peace Project said they forced her into a Mazda Familia vehicle and ordered her to lie low on the seat of the car.
“Immediately a woolen jersey was put across my face, covering my eyes, nose and mouth (and) as a result I had problems breathing and almost suffocated,” Mukoko said.
Once at the torture base Mukoko said they put her in solitary confinement for 19 days while trying to force her to admit recruiting youths for military training in Botswana to dislodge Robert Mugabe from power.
“Firstly I was assaulted underneath my feet with a rubber-like object which was at least one metre long and flexible, while seated on the floor. Later I was told to raise my feet onto a table and the other people in the room started to assault me underneath my feet. This assault lasted for at least five to six minutes. They took a break and then continued again with the beatings,” she said.
After this period Mukoko was able briefly, in the presence of police, to see her family. Without warning she was brought to court on Christmas Eve, alongside other detainees who had been abducted and held for 76 days. The detainees included a 72-year-old man and a two-year-old boy, all facing banditry charges.
The case collapsed and the charges were dropped.
The most notorious torture centre used by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is found in Goromonzi. It’s a prison complex at Goromonzi Police Camp, 40 km east of Harare. Evidence from Mukoko’s testimony suggests that she might have been taken there.
The Goromonzi torture base is so infamous that even a report on torture compiled by the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition in 2010 was titled ‘Cries from Goromonzi – Inside Zimbabwe’s Torture Chambers’. The report contained 23 harrowing testimonies from individuals tortured between 2000 and 2009.
The Crisis Coalition said their report exposed the “pervasive use of torture and imprisonment of citizens in secret detention camps in Zimbabwe to extract information, stifle public dissent and determine political processes and electoral outcomes.’
According to Nehanda Radio sources,retired army Brigadier General Asher Walter Tapfumanei, listed as CIO Assistant Director (External) in 2009, played a key role in the abduction of Jestina Mukoko, Gandi Mudzingwa and journalist Shadreck Andrison Manyere, among others.
Tapfumanei was also allegedly heavily involved in the June 2008 election violence.