A popular Zimbabwean online comedian and satirist said on Thursday she was abducted from her Harare home and beaten by unknown assailants, becoming the latest perceived government critic to be attacked in recent weeks.
Samantha Kureya, popularly known as 'Gonyeti', was forcibly taken from her home by masked and armed men on Wednesday evening, beaten up and dumped, she told a local newspaper from her hospital bed.
Kureya told a journalist from the Daily News in a video clip available online that three masked men broke open her bedroom door and pulled her out of bed.
"I was only wearing a top and pants, and when I said 'Let me dress' I was slapped, and ordered to look down," she said, adding that she was dragged into a car with her face down.
The Guardian reported that she was driven to "an unknown place" by her abductors.
"They started saying: 'You mock the government and we have been monitoring you'. They told me to lie down and instructed me to start rolling on the ground. They would instruct me to roll from either side and each time I did, I would get beaten. They started stomping on my back," the 33-year-old said, according to the publication.
10 similar incidents reported
The Guardian reported that the men made her perform army drills and ordered her to drink water contaminated with raw sewage, before interrogating her about her partner, colleagues and the TV company she works for. They also made her strip and smashed her phone with an AK-47 assault rifle.
She was later abandoned, without any clothes.
Kureya walked towards houses and someone threw a dress at her through the window.
According to The Guardian, the vehicle that Kureya was forced into – an Isuzu pick-up truck – is the same vehicle which has reportedly been involved in many of the 10 similar incidents reported to human rights activists in the last week. Six incidents were reported in Harare, while four were reported in Bulawayo.
Activists believe Zimbabwe's security services are responsible.
Her production company Bustop-TV tweeted that another comedian, Sharon Chideu, who appears alongside Kureya in comedy sketches, was also targeted but left her home after being warned that she could be abducted.
Bustop TV posts sketches that poke fun at the authorities in Zimbabwe and the economic and social problems facing the country.
Opposition, rights activists targeted
Earlier this year, police arrested Kureya and Chideu after they appeared in a performance wearing fancy-dress police uniforms, but they were released and fined US$20 each.
The Guardian reported that Kureya was told "if you report this case, we will put a bullet in your mother's skull".
Kureya joins a list of opposition and rights activists who have been abducted by unidentified assailants at different locations in the past two weeks, according to rights groups.
The Ministry of Information said in a tweet that investigations were under way.
"Kureya reported a night visit by three masked men, one carrying a firearm. They allegedly assaulted her and dumped her in Mufakose," it said.
The abductions and last week's attacks on demonstrators come at a time when the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is trying to normalise relations with western powers after two decades of isolation over alleged human rights abuses.
Western missions in Harare have condemned the attacks on the demonstrators and the current spate of abductions.
Freedom of expression has lost meaning in Zimbabwe. We are not safe - comedian Samantha Kureya aka Gonyeti speaking from her hospital bed after Wednesday night’s abduction and torture. pic.twitter.com/tv1jLbP6mc— Privilege Musvanhiri (@Musvanhiri) August 22, 2019
The love of Power must never overwhelm the power of love. Mr ED why such barbaric human rights abuses and violations??Why destroy such talent?? https://t.co/vUWhp3pvDu— nelson chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) August 22, 2019
- Compiled by Denver Keytle
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