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Zimbabwe probes extra-judicial rendition of truck driver to Zambia

by Staff reporter
21 Jan 2024 at 05:13hrs | Views
Zimbabwean police are investigating the extra-judicial rendition of a truck driver to Zambia after he was abducted in Harare on October 28 last year.

Tasara Hwata, 47, was abducted and tortured – allegedly with the full participation of his employers – before being smuggled to Zambia where he was locked up for two months.

The drama started after a consignment of fertilizer which Hwata drove from South Africa and delivered in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, was reported as missing.

His wife Nyarai Nyika, of Tugwete Village in Seke, has asked Zimbabwean authorities to bring him home.

Nyarai told police her husband is employed by Profburg Private Limited, a company based in Wokington in Harare.

Hwata, according to his wife, was assigned to ferry 600 x 50kg bags of fertilizer from South Africa to Zambia between October 15 and October 25, 2023. The consignment was to be delivered to Omnia Fertilizer Company in Lusaka.

She said on October 24, on approach to Lusaka after crossing into Zambia at Chirundu, her husband received a call from someone claiming to be from Omnia Fertilizer Company, who asked for his location.

He pulled into Inter Africa Truck Stop in the Makeni area of Lusaka at 9AM. While there, the same man who had called him earlier called again advising him to proceed to Omnia, also stating that they had created space for him to offload his cargo.

Hwata drove towards Omnia but somewhere along the way, he is alleged to have seen an individual dressed in an Omnia Fertilizer T-shirt flagging him to stop.

The man jumped into the truck and told Hwata that there was no longer space at Omnia Fertilizer and redirected him to a location on Great North Road where up to 30 people began offloading the truck, while the man in the Omnia Fertilizer T-Shirt asked Hwata to hand over the paperwork for them to sign acknowledgement of delivery and stamp the papers.

The location where the delivery was made had no offices and the man wearing the Omnia T-shirt allegedly drove away and returned after about an hour with the papers signed and stamped. Hwata took pictures of the papers and sent them to their Johannesburg office to confirm delivery.

Hwata was then instructed by his company's Johannesburg office to drive to Goromonzi in Zimbabwe and pick up a load which would be delivered in South Africa.

He picked up the load and on October 28 he drove to his employer's Harare office to collect toll fees for his trip. That would be the beginning of his nightmare.

Nyarai alleges that Hwata was met by Moussa Mounchikpou, who is the managing director of the company and Brian Chande, the head driver. They invited him to a room where there were three other people – two men and a woman.

Chande introduced the three as police officers, and then left the room, it is claimed.

Hwata was interrogated over where he delivered his load and told that the stamp on his delivery papers was fake. Hwata, who was making his first delivery in Zambia, narrated his story but the alleged police officers refused to believe him.

"The three handcuffed Hwata and started assaulting him whilst he was suspended in the air between two tables," according to a police report of the incident seen by ZimLive.

Hwata was then bundled into a car with the three "police officers" while Chande allegedly went to his truck and retrieved his passport and mobile phone. He then joined them in the car.

Hwata was driven to Chirundu, arriving at around 1AM when the border was closed. They removed his handcuffs and handed him over to four men driving an Isuzu twin cab.

Among the four men was Lloyd Chisumba, whom Hwata recognised as a Zambian national and agent who clears trucks in Zambia.

Without going through immigration formalities at the closed border post, Hwata was driven to Mosque Police Station in Lusaka and booked in at around 4AM.

After two days detained, Chande and Chisumba turned up and demanded to be shown where Hwata had made the delivery. They drove to the location and he was returned to the police station.

Hwata's wife, who only discovered her husband was being held in Zambia after confronting his employers, told police that her husband was kept at the station for another three weeks before he was moved to Kanyama Police Station using Chisumba's vehicle.

Thirty-five days into his police detention, Hwata was taken to Lusaka Central Prison where he stayed until he was granted bail on December 29, 2023. He remains in Zambia awaiting trial.

Source - zimlive