Suspected state security agents abducted a Harare-based construction manager – who has done a lot of building works for award-winning Zimbabwean filmmaking journalist Hopewell Chin’ono – yesterday in a dramatic and chilling case of brutality amid poisoning with toxin injections.
Security sources and family members said state agents seized Shingai Munashe Marere (29) around 4pm before subjecting him to vicious assault and leaving him for dead by the roadside along Old Mazowe Road, about 18km northwest of the capital.
Following the attack, Marere managed to pick himself up, got into the car and tried to drive off, but lost control of the car subsequently after a short distance as he was immobilised through savage assault and toxic drugging.
Zimbabwe has a long history of abductions, torture and forced disappearances, as well as cruel and degrading treatment usually by state security agents – from colonial to current times.
Only in November last year, opposition CCC MP Takudzwa Ngadziore was abducted at gunpoint and brutalised by identified state security operatives.
His assailants severely assaulted him and injected him with an unknown substance.
The operation was exposed as he recorded the incident live on Facebook.
Just like Marere, Ngadziore was stripped off naked, beaten up and left for dead in Mazowe, about 50km north of Harare.
Highly informed sources privy to yesterday’s confrontational in-your-face intelligence-style tailing operation, which has all the hallmarks of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) dark arts, say Marere was abducted late in the afternoon along Old Mazowe Road after he had been called by anonymous people to come there and meet them towards Zimbabwe’s new Parliament in Mount Hampden.
Marere went there assuming he was going to meet journalists to tell them his blood-curdling story of how state security agents had been pressuring, hounding, cajoling and stalking him menacingly demanding Chin’ono’s new home address in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Chin’ono has moved from Harare to Johannesburg.
He has now become an unrelenting trenchant critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and an anti-corruption crusader.
Marere is close to Chin’ono as has done some construction works for him in Harare and are now family friends.
The journalist used his huge social media following and support to promote Marere’s business, while also exposing Mnangagwa’s governance failures.
Marere is a manager at Trackwave Construction situated along Arcturus, Kamfinsa, in Harare and offers services, including on construction, architecture, building, renovation and interior design.
When he got to the Mazowe Road area for the meeting, Marere was violently pushed off the road and seized by unknown ferreters and attacked viciously.
His hawkish pursuers had been following him aggressively in two cars from town before he was eventually forced off the road, grabbed and beaten up, sustaining body lacerations and a broken collar bone in the process.
Investigations by The NewsHawks, which has been on the story since this past weekend, showed that one of the cars – registration LM 27CC GP – tailing Marere is owned by a Zimbabwean based in Randburg, Johannesburg.
South African police are already investigating the case behind the scenes, according to sources.
After they grabbed him, Marere was stripped off his clothes down to his boxer shorts and then injected with some poisonous toxins, while heavily sedated.
After that he was left for dead around the area by his assailants who then sped off from the crime scene.
He then got up before the drug kicked in and drove a short distance until his car veered off the road for about 50 metres, getting stuck there.
Sources say a good samaritan, who introduced herself to people as “Honourable”, found Marere sedated and battered by the roadside, and took him to KMD Medical Centre nearby for admission along Beema Road, Westgate.
The woman calling herself Honourable was the first to arrive at the scene with someone working in parliament who calls himself Madzibaba.
Marere’s wife Vallen Chisasa, family members and friends received a phone call through the victim’s phone around 6pm, with someone on the other end saying he was Constable Patrick Kanda, telling them Shingi had been involved in an accident, but had already been taken to the hospital.
Chisasa and family members rushed to the scene to first check what had happened before proceeding to the hospital.
Upon arrival at the scene they found Marere’s car on the roadside with two people around who were claiming to be policemen without any positive identification that they were.
There was also a group of people gathered and milling around.
One of the man at the scene said he was Constable Kanda, the same person who had earlier called the family.
Kanda told Chisasa and relatives that he was with his boss standing outside a luxury white Mercedes Benz sedan, registration number ASA 9972, behind Marere’s car.
Kanda’s boss said his name was Madzibaba. He did not identify himself fully.
The people at the scene were trying to remove Marere’s car stuck on the roadside between some lush green grass and dug up soil, especially the victim’s brother-in-law.
One of Marere’s family members went straight to the car to open the door and get inside as Chisasa had been sent a WhatsApp voice note (short audio recording) by the victim telling her as his wife that if anything happened to him, she should retrieve some money in a small bag under the front left passenger’s seat.
Marere sent the voice note as his pursuers closed in on him. He feared for the worst.
Prior to that, Marere had told his colleagues and Chin’ono that he was being followed daily by unknown cars and mysterious people.
One of those cars is a South African registered Mercedes Benz.
However, Marere had an idea who the people tailing him were as he had been summoned of late by state security agents for meetings demanding that he should cooperate with them to get Chin’ono’s new home details in Johannesburg where he recently relocated to from Harare.
Chin’ono is highly critical of Mnangagwa’s government and has been a thorn in the flesh in recent years, particularly the last four years.
He has been a vocal anti-corruption crusader leveraging his huge social media following and local, regional and international platforms to address Zimbabwe’s protracted and entrenched political, economic and social problems.
For that, Chin’ono has been arrested and jailed before, at one time kept in detention for 45 days in 2020. After that he was also arrested for some other cases on what he said were trumped up charges.
Sources say after his move to South Africa, Zimbabwean authorities fear he will become a relentless anti-government campaigner for democracy and an anti-corruption activist, while intensifying his stinging criticism of Mnangagwa’s government.
“So they are looking at ways of silencing him in South Africa, taking advantage of the volatile security environment and crime in the country. If anything happens to him in South Africa, they will simply say it’s crime, which is a plausible pretext,” a state security source said.
“So the state security agents wanted Marere to give them Chin’ono’s address and lead them to his new house.”
In one meeting with Marere at Holiday Inn in Harare, the state agents asked him when was travelling to Johannesburg to see Chin’ono. They then proposed that Marere should travel with them for their operation. They would give him a cellphone with a Cell-C simcard to use when he got South Africa to facilitate smooth communication.
In return, they said Marere would be supported in his construction business if he delivered.
When Marere resisted to give them the details, they told him that they would deal with him decisively.
Soon after that, they started following him around town belligerently asking for Chin’ono’s address and demanding further meetings with him on it.
This created a pressure cooker cauldron for Marere, turning him into a depressive.
When the heat became unbearable, Marere this past weekend called The NewsHawks to tell its reporters that he was being followed and his life was in danger. He had stopped sleeping at home as a result.
The reporters were due to meet him yesterday before the abduction. Previous attempts to meet him fell through as he was in panic and running scared.
However, he continued to refuse to sell out Chin’ono until the state agents moved on him and abducted him yesterday amid brutality and toxin injections administered on him.
One of Marere’s family members told The NewsHawks:
“We got a call yesterday late afternoon around 6pm from someone calling himself Constable Kanda, saying that Shingi has had an accident. We rushed to scene and when we got there we found his car by the roadside, with a number of people milling around. One of those people was the person calling himself Constable Kanda. He was not in police uniform, but was wearing a black jean and a black shirt with some slippers or slops.
“I went into the car to search for the bag which Shingi had said had some money hidden below the passenger’s front seat. I only found his clothes and an empty bag in the car. There was no money. His wallet and phones were now with Constable Kanda. The presence of his clothes in car showed that he had been stripped almost naked by his assailants. He only remained wearing his boxer shorts. The attack was brutal, severe and humiliating.
“After that we engaged Kanda to ask him what had happened. He told us that he had seen the car flying and veering off the road. He claimed that the accident happened in his full view and the victim was alone in the car and also on the road around him at that moment.”
The relative continued:
“After talking to Kanda, he then introduced us to his boss who was standing next to a white Mercedes Benz wearing a white T-shirt. He said his name was Madzibaba and asked our numbera so that we could update him on shingi’s condition.
“It was suspicious and we didn’t give him my number, so I took his before we left. I also took Kanda’s number. From there we went to the nearby clinic with Shingi’s brother-in-law who had arrived at the scene earlier than us. The brother-in-law had tried to check him at the nearby clinic, but was denied access upon arrival. We went there with him again and we managed to negotiate our way through with his wife to see him. He was on an oxygen concentrator and drip, but he was not responding to it well. We tried to talk to him, but he was not responding either. It took him about an hour and 45 minutes to respond. We think by that time the sedation and poison were weakening. When he finally woke up, he looked disoriented and scared; we asked him what had happened and he showed us his hands which had some little bruises looking like injections on both of them, and on the middle of his palms and thumbs.
“He looked and sounded confused during the conversation, but as we continued to talk to him he responded, saying he had been beaten up by some people. He also asked about the money that was in the car. We told him it is not there. He also asked us to call Hopewell and tell him what had happened to him.
“When we realised he was in a critical condition, we then moved him away from KDM Medical Centre to another hospital, Westgate Medical Centre, for further medical attention. They examined him with an X-ray machine and full body scan, as well as blood tests to check internal injuries, organs damage and toxins. The preliminary results showed that he had a broken collar bone and body bruises, with possible internal injuries. Final results are not yet out. Soon after we were told to move him again from Westgate to Parirenyatwa Hospital as he was critical. By that time, it was now around 4:45am, from 6pm yesterday. We slept in hospitals. When we got to Parirenyatwa, we got him admitted to see a neurosurgeon to check his brain, spinal cord and nerves conditions. His body was visibly weak and he complained about his pain on joints, looking like somebody paralysed. He complained of pain all over his body and it appeared like he been injected with toxins all over the body.
“The whole incident raises serious questions, for instance how the car skidded off the road and the way it was parked thereafter when he was alone on that stretch of the road. The other question is how did Kanda unlock and access his phone to call his family? Most importantly, why was part of his call log history on one of his two phones deleted and all the photos on the gallery? They failed to unlock his iPhone, so they could not get access. What were those injection-like marks on his hands and all over the body all about? He also had bruises on his joints, thighs and behind the left ear. Those looked suspicious and difficult to understand. This is dastardly and nerve-racking. Why did guys calling themselves police not map the scene of the accident and let the car be removed without any report or anything written down?
“The whole story is shocking in so many ways. So many things have been happening and Shingi has been through a lot, but he is just an innocent young guy and hard-working citizen with a young wife, kids; family. Why should people, whoever they are, do this to another human being? Is this how we now become as a people, black people for that matter, treating each other like animals for no good reason other than the evils of malevolent dominance in society. This is tragic and heartbreaking.”
Contacted for comment, Kanda: “I’m a police constable. I work at nearby police farm in that area. So I was in a shop across the road when the accident happened. I didn’t see it happening, but was on the scene soon after in some minutes. There already other people there, including a woman calling herself ‘Honourable’ and Madzibaba. When we arrived, the driver of the car was numb and looked like he had seizure, convulsions or fits. It was like epilepsy. He could not talk. I received many calls on his phone from different people, including his wife, looking for him. Someone said he has asthma. We thought it was fits.”
According to medical journals, in adults, the most common cause of a seizure, also known as a convulsion or fit, is epilepsy.
A seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain.
It can also be caused by other things, including a head injury, poisoning, lack of oxygen, after taking certain drugs, or if someone with diabetes has a ‘hypo’ where blood glucose is too low.
However, Marere had told Chin’ono, family members and journalists that state agents were in hot pursuit of him demanding Hopewell’s new address soon before yesterday’s incident.
He had been running scared for weeks now until they caught up with him yesterday, with nasty and gut-wrenching consequences.