Journalists’ trial deferred

The trial of The Standard journalists, editor Nevanji Madanhire, reporter Patience Nyangove and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) group human resources manager Loud Ramakgapola — representing the company on 24 October 2011 — failed to take off again.

as the trial was about to commence, the defence argued the State was wrongly prosecuting Ramakgapola, who was being cited as representing “The Standard”, in both the charge sheet and the State outline.

The defence argued that “The Standard” was the newspaper’s name and Ramakgapola, a company representative, could not represent a newspaper’s name which was not a company.

However, the State insisted the charge sheet and State outline were both correct since a letter which authorised Ramakgapola to represent the company was referring to The Standard as a company. There were further contentions as regards the date to which the case was supposed to be remanded with both the defence and the State seeking each party’s compromise.

The State proposed the matter be postponed to any date in November or December, but the defence opposed saying both months had busy schedules and suggested any date next year.

“The fabric of society is not going to crumble because somebody is alleged to have used the word ‘notorious’,” the lawyer said.

He was addressing the court after the State objected to remanding the matter to next year insisting that it wanted the matter to be dealt with urgently.

Provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini intervened and remanded the matter to 27 October 2011.

Background

Madanhire, Nyangove and Ramakgapola are being charged with criminal defamation as defined under Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and section 31, which criminalises the publishing or communication of false statements prejudicial to the State.

The sections also deal with statements “undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe”, as contained under section 31(a) (iii) of the same law.

The three were arrested following the publication of a story carried in the weekly Standard issue of June 26 – July 2, titled: “MDC-T fears for missing Timba”.

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