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Saturday 21 September 2019

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Dr. Peter Magombeyi resurfaced in Nyabira near Harare on Thursday.

Police in Zimbabwe say Dr. Peter Magombeyi, who was allegedly abducted by unknown assailants last Saturday, is safe and currently under doctors’ care at a local hospital.

In an interview with VOA Zimbabwe Service, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said the doctor is not under arrest or investigation.

“Zimbabwe police advises members of the public that investigations in Dr. Peter Gabriel Magombeyi case are in full swing. He is currently admitted at a local hospital for observation by a medical team. He has been examined by his own medical team and government team. He is safe and has not been arrested at all as claimed in some sections of the media.”

Nyathi said Dr. Magombeyi has accessed his lawyers who are interacting with the police.

“He has accessed his family and they are also interacting with the police. There is no misunderstanding at all and he’ll be interviewed by the police, once he is cleared by the medical team.

“So I want to dispel some of the information that has been circulating in the social media platform and some of the information that is being posted on the social media platform.”

He appealed to Zimbabweans to stop circulating fake news about Dr. Magombeyi.

“I also want to caution the public against, against trying to defeat or obstruct the course of justice that is not factual, that is misleading.”

The doctor was allegedly abducted by suspected state security agents last week Saturday amid a crippling strike by doctors demanding salary increases.

The government says indications are that there is a “third force” behind the abduction of citizens.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said the government is pleased about the reappearance of the doctor.

"Dr. Magombeyi has in recent weeks been exercising his rights as a Zimbabwean to oppose government policies through peaceful protest. Whilst the Government may disagree with his opinions, he and all his colleagues in ZHDA have every right to hold these views and express them publicly. The Government calls for all parties to come to the table and discuss this dispute in the spirit of openness and mutual respect.”

He noted that police are looking into Dr. Magombeyi’s disappearance and resurfacing in Nyadira, about 35 kilometers away from Harare on Thursday.

"The police services are now working with Peter to fully investigate what did happen - despite the challenges of doing so - given he has asserted he does not recall precisely what occurred nor where he has been for the last six days.”

Moyo also said the government is concerned about such disappearances.

"The government is concerned that the timings of a spate of disappearances – followed by reappearances - of civil society and labour activists on the eve of major international meetings of crucial importance to the whole country are forming a pattern. "These incidents do nothing to assist, and only seek to obstruct, the government’s genuine and open-minded efforts to engage with the international community on behalf of the Zimbabwean people.

"Given this fact, the government expresses its frustration at the ongoing, instant reaction by those in the international media alluding to government involvement in these disappearances. We ask the media to spend less time insinuating and more time investigating how and who may benefit and be behind them.”

Dr. Peter Magombeyi

The Zimbabwean doctor whose disappearance Saturday, sparked off a wave of doctors’ strikes across the country, has reappeared, alive. However, the doctor’s recollection of his disappearance, is vague.

Police block doctors in Harare ...
Police block doctors in Harare ...

Speaking on VOA Zimbabwe Service’s Livetalk program, Thursday, a disoriented sounding Dr. Peter Magombeyi, the acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, confirmed he was the one on the other end of the phone.

“I honestly don’t know how to truly identify myself, but I am Dr. Peter Magombeyi, I work at Harare Hospital.”

The doctor, who had been spearheading calls for an increase of doctors’ salaries when he disappeared, said he could not remember what exactly happened to him or how he ended up where he was - an area called Nyabira, about 21-miles from Harare.

“That part I’m just so vague about, I need time to recall.”

Looking for Dr. Peter Magombeyi ...
Looking for Dr. Peter Magombeyi ...

Struggling to speak, Magombeyi said he didn’t have any obvious signs of physical injury, but only generalized pain. He said his last recollection before being taken by unnamed people, were memories of being electrocuted.

“I remember being in a basement of some sort, being electrocuted at some point, that is what I vividly remember. I, I just don’t remember.”

Missing since Saturday, Magombeyi said a lot of what happened during that time, including if he had anything to eat or if he was blindfolded, was too vague for him to articulate.

“I barely remember anything. I think I am having retrograde amnesia, I just don’t know.”

Doctors and police talking about abducted Harare doctors, Dr. Peter Magombeyi.
Doctors and police talking about abducted Harare doctors, Dr. Peter Magombeyi.

Zimbabwe’s government and police have denied involvement in Magombeyi’s disappearance but said they were doing all they could to find the doctor. The government also indicated a third force could be involved in the disappearance to taint its image.

Responding to the police allegation, and also Twitter posts alluding to the same accusations, Magombeyi said he had no answer.

“I need time to think about it, I don’t know.”

Zimbabwe doctors, some of who were already on strike since early September demanding pay increments, intensified their strike following Magombeyi’s disappearance and vowed not to return to work until he was found.

At the time of the interview, Magombeyi said he was waiting for the police and his colleagues to pick him up. One of his colleagues told VOA Studio 7 that he was picked up by the police who took him to Central Police Station in Harare.

Lawyers representing the doctor said police denied them permission to have access to their client. Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi refused to comment, saying he will issue a statement.

'Abducted Doctor Resurfaces in Nyadira
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(Contributions: VOA Studio 7 reporters Sithandekile Mhlanga and Marvellous Mhlanga Nyahuye)

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