- Edward Chikombo, a former cameraman for the state-owned ‘Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holding’ (ZBH) was found dead at the weekend. Mr Chikombo’s death was linked to his alleged smuggling of television pictures of the brutal opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, from the ZBH archives.
He was accused of being a supporter of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Edward Chikombo was abducted by a group of armed men from his home in Glenview last Thursday, outside the capital Harare last week. Since his abduction, nothing was heard about him until the discovery of his lifeless body near Darwendale village, 50 miles west of Harare.
The footage of Tsvangirai leaving a Harare courthouse with a suspected fractured skull, and then lying in a hospital bed, provoked a storm of international criticism of Robert Mugabe\'s regime.
It is reported that his captors whisked him into a silver pick-up truck and drove him to an unknown location. Similar trucks were used in numerous kidnappings during a terror campaign against the opponents of the ruling Zanu-PF party of President Mugabe.
Chikomba, who also ran a stall outside his home in the working-class suburb of Glen View, was kidnapped by four men, who stopped and initially asked if they could buy some beverages. Forced at gunpoint to get into their white 4WD vehicle, he was found dead at Darwendale (60 km west of Harare) on 31 March. Since then, his body has been at the morgue in Chinhoyi, 115 km west of the capital.
A relative was quoted as saying that Chikomba’s he had tried to pull him back as he was being bundled into the vehicle, but the abductors hit him with gun butts. The vehicle that took him away was later reported to have been found at Mapinga, west of Harare.
“We are utterly dismayed by this murder, which comes at a critical time for independent journalists because, after years of harassment, they are now being subjected to extreme violence,” Reporters sans frontiers said.
“This appalling crime must not go unpunished,” RSF argued. “As the police do not have the required credibility to conduct a serious investigation, we call on those presidents who still maintain a dialogue with President Robert Mugabe to make him realise that it would be inexplicable and dangerous if those who are responsible for Chikomba’s death are not clearly identified and punished. Only an independent third party is capable of establishing the facts in Zimbabwe today.”
Zimbabwean intelligence agents have been arresting many opposition members, human rights activists and journalists. Gift Phiri a contributor to the London-based weekly, ‘The Zimbabwean’, has been held since 1 April on a charge of practising journalism illegally.
Similarly, the former editor of the defunct ‘Daily News’, Luke Tamborinyoka, was hospitalised on the orders of a Harare court on 30 March after he had lost consciousness during his trial. He was among those badly injured during a police raid on MDC headquarters on 28 March.
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