The Human Rights Watch has mourned the death of prominent human rights defender and the director of Human Rights Watch for southern Africa division, Dewa Mavhinga.
Mavhinga succumbed to COVID-19 on Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was based.
In a statement, the Human Rights Watch said Mavhinga was a beloved colleague to many activists across the human rights movement. They said:
Mavhinga was known not just for his passion, commitment, and leadership on human rights but above all for his great heart, his kindness, and solidarity with others.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch described Mavhinga as a highly effective human rights activist who worked for the betterment of people’s lives. Said Roth:
Dewa was a deeply empathetic and highly effective human rights activist whose work made many people’s lives better, whether it was pushing the Zimbabwe government to respect the right to protest in the face of economic hardship or ensuring that victims of human rights abuses across Southern Africa have access to justice.
Mavhinga joined the Human Rights Watch as senior Zimbabwe researcher in 2012 and spent years documenting human rights violations in the country during the latter years of Robert Mugabe’s reign as well as under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.