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22.08.2019 Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe comedian abducted, beaten as tensions mount

By Ryan Truscott - RFI
Bustop TV
AUG 22, 2019 ZIMBABWE

A top Zimbabwean comedian has been abducted and beaten in Zimbabwe by suspected state security agents. Samantha Kureya, also known as Gonyeti, fronts the satirical current affairs channel, Bustop TV.

Kureya was abducted from her home in Harare's Mufakose suburb late on Wednesday by men carrying weapons and wearing masks.

Writing on Twitter, Bustop TV said Kureya was stripped naked and beaten by her assailants, who later dumped her in Harare's low-income Crowborough North suburb where she had to beg for clothes from startled residents.

“She only got assistance (from) the sixth house whose residents had to throw a dress through the window. Everyone was scared,” Bustop TV said.

Kureya is the most prominent person to have been abducted in recent days.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says a number of its officials and their family members have been abducted and beaten in the western city of Bulawayo, where police banned a protest march from going ahead on Monday.

The party led by Nelson Chamisa says a “de facto state of emergency now pervades the country, especially in the towns”.

A MDC MP in the town of Marondera, around an hour's drive east of Harare, said unidentified attackers fired shots at his home on Wednesday night.

Pictures circulated on social media showed bullet holes in the tailgate of a pick-up truck and in the walls of the home of the MP, Caston Matewu.

Rights group, Heal Zimbabwe Trust says the police have confirmed that automatic weapons were used in the attack though police have not yet commented publicly.

Constitutional rights
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has come in for heavy criticism over its crackdown on protesters in Harare last Friday, and for its banning of this week's planned protest marches across the country.

A joint statement from the heads of foreign missions in Harare, including those of France, the EU, Britain and the US called on the authorities to “respect the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as well as to peaceful protest.”

The government has hit back, saying the marches were illegal and the police bans had been upheld by the courts. It accused the Western diplomats of being "intrusive and judgmental" and of wanting to promote "unrest and public disorder".

But the abductions and attacks on individuals are a worrying new development, which the government claims it has no hand in. There has been no official comment yet on the abduction of Kureya, or the attack on the MP's house.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said last week that a “third force” -- bent on tarnishing the image of Mnangagwa's administration -- could be behind the abduction and torture of citizens.

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