Good police work, but…


HARARE – There is no denying the incredible job our Police Department has done in recent weeks in the apprehension of the fugitive kombi driver behind the death of a 17-year-old Harare Girls’ High School pupil Jocelyn Gomba.

Wadzanayi Mabika, 41, ploughed into the school girl three weeks ago, before fatally dragging her body under his vehicle. He has been sentenced to six years and eight months behind bars; and will never drive a passenger vehicle in his lifetime.

This case highlights why it’s important that, at all costs, we keep our police department well-resourced.

Police investigators easily cracked the high-profile homicide that occurred in Harare’s Central Business District. In a few days, investigators got the name of the suspect and his likely whereabouts and were able to arrest the suspect, who had skipped the border to South Africa, without incident.

That took a lot of extra effort and hours to track down a suspected, cold-blooded killer.

That investigation was the summation of plain-old good police work. The kind of work that requires dedicated employees who care about justice being served swiftly.

Police officers and investigators acted like a well-oiled machine in tracking down and busting this case. It took countless hours and dogged police work to get the bad guy.

As we reflect on these recent successful police efforts and try to open a discussion on how we can preserve what we have, questions inadvertently arise about Itai Dzamara’s cold case.

Over 16 months after five men abducted the political activist and former journalist, the fate of his file tilts more toward limbo than prosecution.

Dzamara was the editor of the News Leader newspaper which he founded in 2008. Prior to that, he worked for various publications, including the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and The Zimbabwean.

In October 2014, he suspended the News Leader’s publication in order to focus on his political activism. The same month, he submitted a petition calling for President Robert Mugabe’s resignation.

Since then, Dzamara has led a pro-democracy movement known as Occupy Africa Unity Square, which called for Mugabe’s resignation. In November 2014, he was beaten by police in Africa Unity Square.

Two days before his abduction, he delivered a speech at an opposition rally in Harare, offering solidarity with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party for mass protests against the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

On March 13, last year, the country’s High Court ordered the police and State intelligence agency to search for Dzamara and work closely with the family’s lawyer. The investigation is thought to be ongoing.

While the Zimbabwean authorities officially deny any involvement in Dzamara’s abduction or knowledge of his whereabouts, Dzamara’s family are less than convinced, given the authorities’ past precedent for the harassment and persecution of supporters of the opposition.

We don’t want the public to forget about Dzamara, and, unfortunately, that’s the way we are seeing it go.

We need somebody to step up, just like in the Girls High case, identify a suspect and be willing to testify. Why has there been no breakthrough on this case, despite dedicated officers working relentlessly on other cases?

Now is not the time for tight lips. Yet silence is mostly all investigators have heard, even though multiple people must have seen his daylight abduction.

One wonders if those with knowledge about what happened have hesitated to come forward.

For that, he will not get to see the spring, and each day leading to warmer weather brings Dzamara’s case closer to a designation without closure: a cold case. Is there no political, economic or moral will to find Dzamara and his abductors, or upholding the law?

Authorities must demonstrate the same zeal they showed in busting the Girls High murder in cracking Dzamara’s abduction. Nothing short of this is acceptable.

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