Mugabe Said to Use Law as Political Tool
The abduction initially drew little attention from authorities. But Coltart and other opposition members organized vigils to keep pressure on the government to investigate.
Over the next few months, authorities arrested 10 war veterans in connection with Nabanyama's disappearance, including Cain Nkala, a Mugabe loyalist and the local head of a war veterans association.
After Nabanyama had been missing for a year, prosecutors upgraded the charges to murder. Nabanyama's body has never been found.
As the trial date approached, reports reached opposition leaders that Nkala intended to implicate top officials from the ruling party in Nabanyama's killing. He never got the chance.
On Nov. 5, 2001, a gang abducted Nkala in much the same style that Nabanyama had been taken, bundling him into a waiting vehicle as his wife watched. Nkala has not been seen since.
Coltart, Archbishop Ncube and others said they believed that Mugabe's party was involved in Nkala's kidnapping, which they described as an attempt to eliminate him before he could implicate party leaders in the killing of Nabanyama.
But the police and the government put the blame for Nkala's disappearance on the Movement for Democratic Change. "The MDC and their supporters should know their days are numbered," Mugabe said at Nkala's funeral, according to news accounts. "The time is now up for the MDC terrorists, as the world has been awakened by the death of Nkala."
Moyo, now 36, was arrested as police began a highly publicized roundup of more than a dozen opposition activists in connection with Nkala's killing.
Two other opposition activists who were arrested in connection with Nkala's murder, Sazini Mpofu and Khethani Augustine Sibanda, were shown on state-controlled television seemingly directing police to Nkala's body, at a site a few steps off a road outside the city. The grave was so shallow and obvious that Nkala's toes stuck through the dirt.
Prosecutors charged Moyo, Mpofu, Sibanda and three other opposition activists with Nkala's murder. Court proceedings began soon afterward, and remained front-page news in Zimbabwe for the next 2 1/2 years.
But in court, where some independent judges remain even after years of Mugabe's efforts to consolidate power, the government's case began to unravel.
Mpofu and Sibanda said police threatened and beat them, then dictated confessions that the two were forced to write and sign. Sibanda said agents from the Central Intelligence Organization had abducted him and compelled him, through torture and threats, to participate in a plot to frame the others for the murder.
Cross-examination of police officers also revealed numerous inconsistencies in their accounts, according to a ruling in March by the trial judge.
Perhaps the most damning was the inability of police to explain why their own investigation diary recorded that Sibanda supposedly pointed out the location of Nkala's body to police hours before the diary showed he was taken into custody. The trial judge rejected police explanations that the illogical diary entries were merely mix-ups.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company