Press release

Zimbabwe: Release and Drop All Charges against Opposition Activists

Three women are charged with lying about their abduction and torture.

In response to the arrest of three women members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change–Alliance, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The arrest of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova—for supposedly lying about their abduction and torture in May—is the latest attempt by the government of Zimbabwe to silence them,” said Tiseke Kasambala, chief of party for Freedom House’s Advancing Rights in Southern Africa program. “Rather than compounding the heinous mistreatment of these women, the government should immediately release and drop all charges against them, investigate their allegations, and end the pattern of disappearances and abuse targeting government critics and activists. Instead of pursuing justice, the authorities are seeking to shift blame to the accusers through unfounded charges.”


On June 10, police detained and charged Mamombe, Chimbiri, and Marova with falsifying a report of their abduction and torture.

Police had arrested and detained the women in May after they attended a citizen demonstration in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. They reported that they were taken from the police station and then tortured and sexually assaulted by unknown assailants. After being released outside the city, the three spent weeks in hospital being treated for various injuries. On May 27, the women were arrested again and charged with breaching the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules.

Zimbabwe is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2019.