Police should summon the Dzamara family over the picture of a heavily bandaged man they claimed was that of their relative Itai in alleged detention, legal experts and observers said yesterday.
For a family, that purports to be grieving over a missing relative, the analysts said, it was surprising that they would parade the purported photograph instead of taking any information they may have to the police to assist with investigations.
The family’s failure to alert the police, analysts said, raised serious questions over the authenticity of the picture given the opposition’s penchant for importing and doctoring images in a bid to cast aspersions at the Government.
The grainy image that Itai’s brother Patson released at a Press conference last week shows a laptop with an image of a bandaged man sitting at the bottom of a staircase, with a whiteman — whose face is hidden from camera — holding the laptop.
At the Press conference, Patson claimed, without availing evidence, that Itai was abducted by military intelligence.
The MDC-T activist-cum-journa-list was reported missing in March last year.
Observers said the readiness by the MDC-T and its western allies, principally the United States and Britain to maximise on the missing person carried a lot of questions and as such police had to get to the bottom of the matter.
Political analyst Mr Goodwine Mureriwa said the “flimflam” the Dzamara issue had created required the family to be taken to task also.
“If it happens that the pictures are not genuine, it’s a serious threat to national security,” he said.
“Social media has been central to the Arab Spring which started in Tunisia, then Egypt before spreading to other countries in the Middle East. The reason why police should get to the bottom of the matter is the hype this issues has created and obsessions opposition parties have with the matter. These could be people furthering their imperialist agendas thinking they can cause instability.”
He added: “The evidence might be cooked and if it is not true, the involved people should be taken to task. One strategy of regime change is attempts to create disgruntlement in people but this, like past strategies, will fail if not done genuinely.”
The Arab Spring is a wave of demonstrations, riots, and Western-sponsored wars in the Arab world that began in 2010 in Tunisia after the self-immolation of a vendor, Mohamed Bouzizi, culminating in the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“There is need for police to ascertain the authenticity of the picture first,” he said.
“Police need to investigate where it originated from and how it will help in finding the gentlemen. If they are genuine then they must be used in recovering him and if they are proved otherwise then appropriate action should be taken.”
Another lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange said: “As much as I do not like the disappearance of other people, I, together with some lawyers, have already dismissed the picture as fake. He (Patson) should be ignored because he has proved to be a publicity seeker.”
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said police was doing all they could to ascertain Dzamara’s whereabouts.
“We called him (Patson) to come and explain the source of his picture so that police can investigate,” she said.
“If a person goes missing, police act on information that comes from any source. If they get the information and keep it to themselves it doesn’t help anybody. We have complied with court orders that we flight adverts of the missing person and surprising enough they purported that they have information but have not given anything to the police.”
In July last year, police offered a reward of $10 000 to anyone with information on the whereabouts of Itai as investigations into his ‘disappearance’ intensified.
Police had been submitting fortnightly updates on investigations into his disappearance to the High Court and working closely with human rights lawyers, in compliance with a court order issued in March last year.
Patson yesterday said his family was convinced that it was Itai in the blurred picture because of his physical features.
“It’s a ridiculous question. Do you have a brother or a child? Do you know his eyes? Do you know his feet? Can you use those eyes and feet to identify him or her? Those are the features that are actually there on that picture. One of them is his eye and foot. Everyone in our family has confirmed that it is Itai?
Director of army public relations Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore said the military intelligence had nothing to do with Dzamara’s ‘disappearance’.
“The claims by Itai Dzamara’s brother are totally false and a figment of his own imagination,” he said.
“The Army intelligence does not take orders from any political party. Patson’s claims are just meant to seek media attention and mislead members of the public,” he said.
According to police, Itai was allegedly abducted by three male adults who entered a barbershop where he had gone to have a haircut in Harare and advised him that he was under arrest for stock theft.