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Suspected State Security Agents 'Abduct' Retired Army Officer Set to Appear Before Motlanthe Commission

Elliot Piki
Elliot Piki

The wife of a retired member of the Zimbabwe National Army has petitioned the High Court seeking an order compelling President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to investigate and account for the whereabouts of her husband, who was abducted by some unknown assailants on Sunday.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Elliot Piki’s wife Sibongile Sarukato filed the urgent court application Monday on behalf of Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki seeking an order compelling the State “to do all things necessary to determine his whereabouts including advertising on all State-run print and broadcast media.”

Sarukato, who is represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, affiliated to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, cited Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Defence and War Veterans Minister, State Security Minister, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General and the Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation as respondents to the application.

Sarukato wants the High Court to order the setting up of a team of investigators, to work closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to search for Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki at all places within Zimbabwe as may be reasonably practical, and report on such search to the Registrar of the High Court, on every alternate Friday.

The ZLHR said, “She also wants the respondents to be ordered to inquire from, and where necessary obtain any such information as may be necessary for the investigations from mobile service operators to try and locate Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki through tracing the mobile numbers that were on his person at the time of his abduction as may be provided by his family.”

In the court application, Sarukato said Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki was kidnapped by some unknown assailants on Sunday around 16:30 hours from his Waterfalls suburb residence in Harare.

Sarukato said the manner in which her husband “was taken (abducted) betrays sinister motives as he was taken in similar style and fashion to pro-democracy campaigner Itai Dzamara, who still remains missing since 9 March 2015.”

She said her husband was abducted by some unidentified people wearing face masks, who bundled him into an unregistered Toyota double-cab vehicle.

During the tussling with the unidentified men as they abducted him, Sarukato stated that one of the abductors tersely said to him in vernacular,”…takakuudza kuti regai kuita document rauri kuda kuita, uri kuda ku protector Chamisa, chii chako?”, which she loosely translated to mean, “…We warned you not to work on the document you are working on, you want to protect Chamisa, who is he to you?”

VOA Studio 7 could not ascertain the contents of the so-called document mentioned by the alleged abductors.

Sarukato said as the unidentified men continued to wrestle and tussle with her husband, “one of the assailants produced a pistol and fired two shots which lodged into the ground and the firearm was then pressed against her husband’s ribs and he was forced into the vehicle before they sped away.”

She said her husband’s whereabouts are presently unknown and “his right to life is therefore at serious risk and in real jeopardy.”

According to Sarukato, a report has been filed with ZRP under RRB 3784040.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki was scheduled to appear on Monday before the Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 post-election violence, which is currently conducting public hearings in Harare on the killing of innocent civilians in August this year in Harare soon after the July 30 elections.

The ZLHR said, “Sarukato charged that she is convinced that the motive behind her husband’s abduction was to prevent him from giving his testimony before the Commission of Inquiry.

On Monday 26 November 2018, Bamu wrote to the Commission of Inquiry notifying the probe team of the abduction of Retired Lieutenant Colonel Piki and indicated that he could no longer appear before it to testify as he is now a victim of enforced disappearance.”

Police and the spokesperson of the Commission of Inquiry led by Kgalema Motlanthe were not reachable for comment.