Urgent Action: Hospitalized Activists Risk Being Jailed (Zimbabwe: UA 84.20)

On 13 May, three opposition activists, member of parliament Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, were arrested at a police roadblock in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, for leading an anti-government protest over the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread hunger in the country. On the same day, they were forcibly disappeared from police custody. During their abduction, they were sexually assaulted and tortured. On 15 May, they were found abandoned in Bindura, 87km from Harare, and have since been in hospital. No investigation has been initiated into their disappearance and their credible allegations of torture, including sexual assault. On 26 May, police charged the activists with gathering with intent to promote public violence and breach of peace.



  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Godwin T. Matanga
Commissioner General of Police
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Ammon M. Mutembwa
Embassy of Zimbabwe
1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 202 332 7100 I Fax: 202 483 9326
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Commissioner General Matanga,

I am deeply concerned about the enforced disappearance and torture, including sexual violence, suffered by three female opposition activists of the MDC Alliance – Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, and Netsai Marova – and the charges brought against them of gathering with intent to promote public violence and breach of the peace.

Following their arrest on 13 May, they were taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were asked to get into another vehicle under the pretext that they were being taken to Warren Park Police Station. Thereafter, the activists were forcibly disappeared for two days. There are credible allegations that, during this time, they were subjected to torture, including sexual assault. On 15 May, they were found abandoned in Bindura. In its press statement issued on 18 May, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission noted that the three activists were abducted, tortured and removed from protection of the law.

I am also concerned that the authorities have called their abduction fake without launching an investigation into their enforced disappearance from police custody, and the subsequent treatment they endured, capable of bringing those suspected of responsibility to justice. Instead, on 26 May, the authorities charged the women and deployed prison guards and police to their hospital, forcing them to wear prison clothing even though they were granted bail.

I urge you to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against the three activists and end the harassment against them; immediately launch an independent and effective investigation into the enforced disappearance of the activists from police custody and the sexual assault and torture they endured; and bring to justice in fair trials anyone suspected of criminal responsibility for the unlawful treatment of the activists.

Yours sincerely,