Jestina Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, said she was abducted from her home on 3 December 2008 by seven men who refused to identify themselves.
Over the next two days she was interrogated and beaten by two different groups of people who asked her about ZPP, accused her of recruiting youths to undergo military training, and interrogated her about Ricardo Hwasheni, a former police officer.
The government alleged that Hwasheni was first enticed to recruit others for military training in Botswana.
Mukoko was also asked about her contacts in the Movement for Democratic Change and contacts with the Elders including former United States President Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel and Kofi Annan during their late November visit to South Africa.
She was also asked her about her connections with the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), and CSU Program Officer Fidelis Mudimu in particular.
When she denied allegations during the lengthy interrogation, her captors forced her feet onto a table and then beat them.
On December 13, Mukoko was asked to sign a statement detailing her personal background, a ZPP staff retreat in Botswana, and ZPP staff details.
She provided these statements but refused to sign a confession to knowing and recruiting former police officer Hwasheni.
She was forced to make a videotaped confession the following day.
On December 14, in response to complaints she needed medical attention, a man who identified himself as Dr Chigumira quickly examined her and she was later given medication.
Her lawyer later said Dr Chigumira was an army doctor.
Viewing cable 08HARARE1147, ZPP LEADERS DETAIL ABDUCTIONS, TORTURE
OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
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ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301517Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3868
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2522
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2645
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1138
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1914
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2269
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2694
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5122
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1801
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001147
AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2018
SUBJECT: ZPP LEADERS DETAIL ABDUCTIONS, TORTURE
REF: A. A. HARARE 1145
¶B. B. HARARE 1183
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4(d).
¶1. (C) Lawyers have drafted affidavits for nine individuals
who have recently been abducted and tortured by Government of
Zimbabwe actors. Because lawyers have not had access to all
abductees that are in State custody, there may be more who
have suffered torture and been coerced into making false
confessions. We have obtained affidavits from two victims,
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Director Jestina Mukoko and ZPP
Provincial Coordinator Broderick Takawira, which describe
their detention and the treatment they endured before state
security officials turned them over to Zimbabwean police on
December 22. Both were beaten on the soles of their feet (a
form of torture known as falanga) and were forced to give
false confessions that they were involved in coordinating and
recruiting individuals in preparation for an armed insurgency
from Botswana. Even after entering police custody on
December 22, both were denied access to lawyers. END SUMMARY.
Abductions, Torture, Forced Confessions
¶2. (C) Mukoko was abducted from her home at 5:00 am on
December 3 when seven people entered her home and refused to
identify themselves. On December 4 and 5, she was
interrogated and beaten by two different groups of people who
asked her about ZPP, accused her of recruiting youths to
undergo military training, and interrogated her about Ricardo
Hwasheni (the former police officer the GOZ alleges was first
enticed to recruit others for military training in Botswana),
her contacts in the MDC, and contacts with the Elders
including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Graca Machel,
and Kofi Annan during their late November visit to South
Africa. They also asked her about her connections with the
Counselling Services Unit (CSU), and CSU Program Officer
Fidelis Midumu in particular. They accused Midumu of helping
recruits cross the border into Botswana. (NOTE: CSU treats
and documents victims of torture. Midumu – who is an
International Visitor Program alumnus – remains in Zimbabwe,
although he is “laying low” for now. END NOTE.) When she
denied allegations during the lengthy interrogation, her
captors forced her feet onto a table and then beat them.
¶3. (C) On December 13, Mukoko was asked to sign a statement
detailing her personal background, a ZPP staff retreat in
Botswana, and ZPP staff details. She provided these
statements but refused to sign a confession to knowing and
recruiting former police officer Hwasheni. On December 14,
she was forced to make a videotaped confession.
¶4. (C) On December 14, in response to complaints she needed
medical attention, a man who identified himself as Dr.
Chigumira quickly examined her and she was later given
medication. (NOTE: In court on December 29, Mukoko’s lawyer
alleged that Dr. Chigumira is doctor with the Zimbabwean
army. END NOTE)
¶5. (C) Takawira was abducted from ZPP’s office on Monday
December 8. That day he was interrograted about ZPP’s work,
including a ZPP trip to Botswana. He was also subjected to
falanga, beatings, and continued interrogation on December 8,
9, and 10. His captors forced him to detail his encounter
with Hwasheni, whom Takawira had met at the ZPP office in May
HARARE 00001147 002 OF 002
or June 2008. Takawira stated that Hwasheni wanted help
traveling to London or Botswana and to publish a book
detailing his experiences, requests ZPP declined. On December
10, Takawira was forced to sign a statement and confess on
video that he and Mukoko had received a letter from Hwasheni
confirming his interest in going for military training
outside the country.
¶6. (C) Both Mukoko and Takawira were kept in detention until
December 22, when they were blindfolded and taken to Braeside
police station in Harare where their captors handed them over
to Chief Superintendent of Police Magwenzi. On December 23
police took Mukoko to her home and searched it without the
presence of her lawyers as she requested. On the same day,
police took a videotaped statement from Takawira, again
without his lawyers present as he requested. Lawyers first
gained access to Takawira and Mukoko at 12:30 on December 24,
just before their initial court hearing before Magistrate
¶7. (C) These forced confessions reflect the story that
ZANU-PF has been pushing in the local media and within SADC
that the MDC and ZPP joined forces to recruit others to
launch some kind of armed insurgency from camps in Botswana.
The use of falanga as the preferred torture technique is not
surprising. CSU and ZPP’s data regarding torture throughout
the period between the March and June elections indicated it
was one of the preferred methods of torture by ZANU-PF
militias. In addition, falanga is extremely painful but
leaves few visible signs of injury. Takawira, Mukoko and
others who have alleged torture are due to be examined by
medical doctors, who may be able to confirm the claims in the
affidavits. Given that many detainees have still not been
able to speak with lawyers, there may be others – in addition
to the nine we know of – who were subjected to torture to
produce forced confessions. The details of their abductions,
mistreatment, and experience once in police custody reflect
the continued disintegration of rule of law in Zimbabwe. END