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FI 124/19-1
Abgeschlossen am 5. November 2019

Medical doctor found alive but tortured

AI-Index: AFR 46/1086/2019

On 19 September 2019, Dr Peter Magombeyi, a medical doctor was found alive and disoriented, dumped about 33 km out of Harare in a placed called Nyabira. Dr Magombeyi was abducted on the night of 14 September 2019. He said he was held in a basement where he was tortured. There are fears that he was injected with an unknown substance by his abductors. The government accused him of faking the abduction and tried to prevent him from seeking medical treatment outside the country. Fears are that he may be arrested and charged for «faking an abduction» upon his return.

Additional information

On 30 August 2019, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) served a notice to the Minister of Health and Child Care as well as the Permanent Secretary for Health that doctors across the country would not report for work starting from 3 September. They cited poor salary as well as lack of success by the association in reaching a settlement with the employer. The letter was signed by Dr Peter Magombeyi, as the Acting President of ZHDA. As a result, he received threats from suspected members of the Central Intelligence Organisation including a warning that they would abduct him if he continued to organise the strike. One of the screenshots with a locally registered number said (loosely translated) «do not say I didn’t warn you. Keep on being stubborn. You will be taken by a whirlwind. We are getting close now. »

Zimbabwe doctors, who earn the equivalent of about US$40 per month (against a regional average of US$1500), are on strike to press for better wages, equipment and medication in state hospitals. The public health system has deteriorated over recent years due to economic mismanagement. Doctors have consistently raised concerns about the lack of medical supplies, lack of funds for the health sector as well as poor working conditions.

On 14 September Peter was abducted from his home in Harare’s Budiriro suburb around 10 pm in the evening by three unidentified and armed men. He was later found alive in the evening of 19 September in Nyabira, 33km out of Harare where he appeared disoriented. The Zimbabwe government has been quick to dismiss his abduction as fake. The government spokesperson who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Nick Mangwana called Dr Peter Magombeyi a «retrograde liar» on Twitter.

On Monday 23 September, doctors recommended he seek medical assistance in South Africa. He was detained at the airport until the plane departed. On 24 September his father took the matter to court, where the High Court rule that he was entitled to leave the country since he is not under arrest. On the same day the police prevented him from leaving hospital, in defiance of the High Court order. On 24 September the police filed an urgent chamber application challenging the High Court order which was heard on 25 September. They stated that he is not fit to travel, therefore he cannot leave the country and that they need to prepare adequate travel security for him if he is to seek medical treatment in South Africa. The police had detained him at a local hospital in Harare.  The High Court dismissed the application brought by the police and immediately ordered he be released and allowed to travel. Fears remain that Peter might be arrested upon his return as the state accuses him of faking his abduction.

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