Bail finally granted to detained student leader

Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) President Takudzwa Ngadziore has been granted bail of ZWL$5000 (about US$55) on 16 October with the conditions that he should stay 500 metres away from any Impala Car Rental premises, surrender his passport to the police and report once every week at Harare Central Police Station, Law and Order Section.

The campaign focusing on the release of the 22-year-old student leader, who has been detained for almost a month at Harare remand prison, has been gaining momentum in Zimbabwe, putting pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to release the student leader. Ngadziore has been refused bail repeatedly.

Activists blame car rental company

Ngadziore was arrested for demanding that Impala Car Rental release details of the alleged use of one of their vehicles in the abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa, a second-year journalism student at Midlands State University.

Muchehiwa was abducted on 30 July in the lead up to nationwide protests which were scheduled for 31 July and kept incommunicado for three days, during which time he was tortured. His abduction was however caught on CCTV at the premises and the footage of the CCTV was used to track down cars, which were traced to Impala Car Rental.

Ngadziore argued that Impala Car Rental knew where Muchehiwa was taken because all their cars had trackers, so they had a map of where the alleged state abductors took Muchehiwa to be tortured. Impala also had a copy of the driver’s licence of the person who hired the car.

Thandekile Moyo, a writer and activist said, “We believe the place where Tawanda was taken is possibly a torture camp that holds evidence of abductions and could solve cases such as the disappearance of journalist and activist Itai Dzamara, who was abducted while getting a haircut in 2015 and has never been seen again.”

Students and police clash

The hashtags #FreeTakuNow and #FreeTakudzwaNgadziore were trending on social media on 15 October, the day before the bail hearing, after a group of students daringly locked up Impala Car Rental employees at their Speke Avenue branch in Harare.

Ngadziore was first arrested in February this year for organising a protest to free fellow activist and former ZINASU secretary general Makomborero Haruzivishe. On 10 September, as he left court at the start of his trial (for the February arrest), he was suddenly rearrested by armed police and charged with participating in a public gathering on 8 September outside the head office of Impala Car Rental in Harare.

The police kept him in custody until 14 September, when they released him with bail conditions, stating that he was not allowed within 100 metres of Impala Car Rental’s offices.

While he was in custody however, nine students aligned with ZINASU were arrested for holding a peaceful protest outside the court where Ngadziore’s bail hearing was taking place.

Student say they fight for justice

Upon his release, Ngadziore announced that he was going to hold a press conference 101 metres away from the Impala Car Rental offices on 18 September saying, “We will not stop fighting for the justice of Tawanda.”

Subsequently, Ngadziore and his ZINASU team addressed journalists 101 metres from Impala, in line with the court order. Midway through the press briefing, however, Ngadziore, other activists and journalists who were covering the event were assaulted by unknown assailants in unmarked cars.

The student leader was injured and remained in custody until the bail hearing.