'Where is Jestina Mukoko, Robert?'
Johannesburg – The whereabouts of a Zimbabwean human rights activist, former TV anchor Jestina Mukoko allegedly kidnapped (only in night dress) earlier this week by gunmen believed to be Robert Mugabe's secret service agents must be made known, the SA Council of Churches said on Friday.
Jestina Mukoko was kidnapped, allegedly by a group of men dressed in civilian clothes from her home in Norton on the outskirts of Harare in the early hours of Wednesday, said SACC general secretary Eddie Makue in a statement.
"Her teenaged son watched helplessly as the men, who reportedly identified themselves as officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, wrestled her into an unmarked silver Mazda 323 Familia and sped off into the night.
"Mukoko has not been seen since."
Mukoko was a journalist heading the Zimbabwe Peace Project – a civil society organisation monitoring human rights abuses as part of involvement in local peace building.
She had now been missing for more than 48 hours.
"We are outraged by her abduction and by the persistently high levels of political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe."
Makue said it was particularly distressing that the abduction of a woman, clothed only in a nightdress, occurred during the 16 days of activism against violence against women.
The SACC and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa said Zimbabwean authorities, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union needed to establish Mukoko’s whereabouts and safety.
If she had been arrested, the state should reveal what charges she faced and give her access to lawyers and family.
If she had been kidnapped, security forces should secure her release and arrest those responsible.
"We demand further the immediate and unconditional release of all individuals who are being illegally held by the state authorities in Zimbabwe and the cessation of purges, violence and organised torture by the current establishment and its security agents," said Makue.