Zimbabwe latest: Ignatius Chombo describes dramatic arrest ‘at hands of masked men with AK-47s’




Ignatious Chombo in shackles with Kudzai Chipanga

A Zimbabwe former minister Ignatius Chombo said masked men in uniform armed with AK-47s stormed his home and abducted him during the military operation that lead to the ousting of Robert Mugabe.

Former finance minister Ignatius Chombo appeared in court on Saturday on corruption charges that date back more than a decade.

He described how a raid in the early morning of November 15 began with two explosions, one of which shook his home.
 Chombo said men entered his bedroom and pointed AK-47 assault rifles at him, his wife and his maid, then handcuffed him and blindfolded him with his own T-shirt.

He was then hustled out of his home through a smashed living room window, he said.

He told a magistrates’ court in Harare: “I was in the custody of armed persons who were dressed in soldiers’ uniforms. I don’t know where I was taken to.”

A one-hour drive to an unidentified location led to days in custody during which interrogators told him that he had performed badly as a government official and ruling party leader, he said.

Chombo said he was blindfolded most of the time and never saw his captors’ faces.

He added that he suffered lacerations during the forced exit from his home, falling several times while barefoot, and was not assaulted but saw a doctor after asking for pills.

His account has fuelled debate about the legality of the mostly peaceful takeover by the armed forces.

The evidence of Chombo came a day after a High Court judge, a retired general, ruled that the military’s actions last week, which commanders described as a move against “criminals” around Mugabe, were legal.

While some critics said it set a dangerous precedent, the decision by Judge George Chiweshe reinforced the military’s assertion that it acted within the law even though it set off events, including impeachment proceedings and street demonstrations against 93-year-old Mugabe, that ended his 37-year rule.

The joyful inauguration on Friday of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former top aide to Mugabe, showed that most Zimbabweans were happy to have a new leader who might take steps to revive the shattered economy.




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