Chikomba, a veteran cameraman formerly with the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), was abducted on March 29 near his home in the capital, Harare, by a group of armed men in a four-wheel drive vehicle, according to the Media Institute of South Africa, local journalists, and news reports. He was found dead two days later near the industrial farming area of Darwendale, 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Harare, according to the same sources. Chikomba was beaten to death, sources close to his family told CPJ.
Several news reports said Chikomba’s killing might be linked to his alleged leaking to foreign media of footage of badly beaten opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after the politician’s release from police custody in February. Footage of Tsvangirai leaving a Harare courthouse with a suspected fractured skull, and then lying in a hospital bed, sparked international condemnation of President Robert Mugabe’s regime. The footage aired on many foreign television stations, but not on ZBC, the country’s sole television network, local journalists told CPJ.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena did not respond to CPJ’s messages seeking comment. Chikomba was one of several senior ZBC journalists forced to step down in 2002 during a harsh media crackdown led by then-Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, according to local journalists.