Freemuse calls for greater protections for satirists after attack on Zimbabwe satirist Samantha Kureya

10 September 2019
Smiling picture of satirist Samantha Kureya
Image: Samantha Kureya / Twitter


On 21 August, renowned Zimbabwean comedian and satirist Samantha Kureya was abducted and tortured according to various news reports. According to the family of the political satirist, the artist known as ‘Gonyeti’ was abducted from her Harare home by six masked gunmen, reported The Independent.

She was then beaten, forced to remove her clothes and to drink sewerage water, a colleague reported to BBC News. Her brother further reported to the publication that the artist’s criticism of the government was the key motivation behind the attack and that the artist has been warned her comedy was becoming seen as too political.

“Political satirists are vital to the function of a free and empowered society. When artists like Gonyeti are targeted and attacked, not only does it harm the individual, but it further seeks to undermine the basic freedoms each member of society is entitled to as a human right,” said Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has further cited the attack as a “human rights violation”.

Amnesty International that the attack on Gonyeti was not the first incident of this nature in the country, and labelled the incident “a ruthless attack on human rights, with the rights to freedom of expression, increasingly restricted and criminalised”.

“Gonyeti’s case is consistent with what we have seen in Zimbabwe under President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the past year.” said an Amnesty International spokesperson according to The Independent.

The BBC reports that Zimbabwean authorities deny involvement in the indecent.

The attack on Kureya is the latest incident in an ongoing trend in the silencing of satirists and comedians. Satirists and comedians play a crucial political role in societies in voicing societal tensions with the government, and attacks and detentions are often an attempt to silence any opposition of a regime.

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