A Zimbabwean car rental firm is fighting a tainted image after one of its rental cars was used in the abduction of 22-year-old activist Tawanda Muchehiwa in Bulawayo ahead of the thwarted July 31 protests.
One of Harare-based Impala Car Rental’s white Ford Rangers was seen in recently-released CCTV footage that captured the abduction. Since then, Zimbabweans on social media have called on the company to reveal who hired the vehicle or face a boycott of its services.
In a statement, CEO Thompson Dondo distanced the company from the kidnap escapade, arguing that it was “limited” in as far as controlling how its vehicles were used by clients.
“As a service provider we are limited in controlling where and how our vehicles will be used because our clients are not obliged to disclose their vehicle hiring purposes,” he said.
He added that if the need arose they would co-operate with law enforcement investigations.
Still, the car hire company’s Twitter account, which goes by the handle @impalacarrental, was inundated with calls from people for the firm to release the name, address and contact details of the person who hired the car. Some also urged the firm to release CCTV footage from its premises revealing the mystery client.
Some legal experts told TimesLIVE that Impala Car Rental could be legally compelled to disclose information if the police decide to investigate the matter.
MDC Alliance treasurer general David Coltart said the vehicle “would be a great lead for a professional police force. It must have fingerprints all over it … but under Zanu-PF nothing will be done.”
There was also concern that the firm could be lying that it had no knowledge of where its cars are driven by clients because all vehicles ordinarily have a tracker to monitor movements.
Meanwhile, speaking for the first time about his three-day torture at the hands of suspected state security operators, Muchehiwa claimed an MDC Alliance youth leader, Tendai Masocha, led the abductors to him. The MDC Alliance in a statement said it would investigate the matter.