Family vows to continue searching for missing Zim activist

Cape Town – Close to 18 months since Zimbabwean pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara disappeared, his family has said that they would continue searching for him for as long as it would take to find him. 

In a telephone interview with News24, Itai's brother, Patson Dzamara, who is currently in South Africa, said that he was not ready to give up on his brother. 

"For as long as Itai is not accounted for, I will never give up... No matter how long it will take," an emotional Patson declared. 

He reiterated his claims that the government had never cared about the whereabouts of his brother.

Itai has been missing since March 2015 after bravely staging lone protests calling on President Robert Mugabe to step down in central Harare's Africa Unity Square.

'Morbid and senseless act'

Reports said that five men stormed a barbershop in Harare and accused him of stealing a cow before they bundled him into an unmarked white twin-cab bakkie.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai slammed the abduction, saying that he held Mugabe and his government responsible.

"We hold Mugabe and his regime responsible for this morbid and senseless act," Tsvangirai was quoted as saying at the time.

An author and speaker, Patson mounted his own protest in front of Mugabe on independence day on April 18. He held a banner outside the VIP tent Mugabe was sitting in at the public independence celebrations. The banner read: "Independent but not free: Where is my brother Itai?" He was quickly apprehended by security guards.

Patson has since become one a familiar figure at Harare protests and court appearances.  

Patson claimed that his brother was abducted by the country's military intelligence under the instruction of the ruling Zanu-PF party, thus, the slow pace in finding him.

Hands tied behind his back

"Based on the information that has been collected by our own private investigations, we know that he was taken by the country's military intelligence under the instruction of the ruling Zanu-PF party," he said.

Patson further lambasted the Zimbabwean Republic Police, describing them as "useless" as they had failed in finding his brother despite being provided with information.

"Our security apparatus, particularly the police, have failed us. They have been dragging their feet in finding my brother since his disappearance 18 months ago. Our government has never cared about finding him," Patson said. 

A previous News24 report revealed that early this year, Dzamara's family released pictures of the pro-democracy journalist in captivity.  

At the time, Patson claimed that the pictures of his brother in captivity were sent by sympathetic intelligence officials.

The images showed a person said to be Itai in captivity, sitting on the floor with hands tied behind his back, while his head was draped in a bandage-like white cloth.

Patson challenged the ruling Zanu-PF government to prove his claims wrong.

The ruling party never responded to Patson's claims. 

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