AMH journalists charged

Newsday Editor, Nevanji Madanhire, reporter, Moses Matenga and Alpha Media Holdings Company Secretary and Legal Counsellor, Sifikile Thabete were yesterday summoned to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Law and Order department where they were formally charged for publishing falsehoods under section 31 A (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Newsday Editor, Nevanji Madanhire
Newsday Editor, Nevanji Madanhire

The trio, were summoned yesterday morning at the central police station in Harare and only released around 2:45 p.m.

Their lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed the development and said the trio were formerly charged for publishing falsehoods following the publishing of an article on April 24 2014.

Bhatasara said: “The trio presented themselves at the Central Investigations Department and they were formerly charged under Section 31A(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

“According to the police, this was because of the publishing of an article on April 24, which they allege was prejudicial to the state and intended to cause public disorder, violence and endanger public safety.”

The Newsday ran a series of stories following the death of a three year old boy, Tanatswa Neil Mutyora from Rugare in Harare, who died on Tuesday last week after he was knocked down by a commuter omnibus driver, who according to eye witnesses was fleeing from a police officer at the corner of Kwame Nkurumah and Chinhoyi street in Harare.

Bhatasara said the trio underwent the processes where their personal details were recorded and the police indicated that they would summon them when they need them.

Media Institution of Southern Africa Zimbabwe condemned police actions against the AMH staffers and called for the speedy alignment of media laws that infringe on media freedom.

MISA- Zimbabwe Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said the continued harassment of journalists by the state apparatus was reflective that Zimbabwean media is operating under a repressive environment.

Ngwenya said: “Police actions reflect that there is need for the alignment of the country’s media laws to the constitution otherwise we will see the continued harassment of the media by the state apparatus.

“Anyone who is aggrieved by what would have been published should engage the correct procedures through the relevant bodies such as the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe.”

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists condemned the ZRP for its continued harassment and intimidation of journalists and said such actions by the law enforcement agents derailed progress made towards a free press in Zimbabwe.

Dongozi said: “Such actions by the ZRP are an indication that there is need for the law enforcement agents to stop terrorising journalists and let the media do its job.

“It is not only unlawful but it is counter- productive and paints a negative picture of our country on the international scene.”

Dongozi said the ZRP actions were uncalled for considering that as the law enforcement agents, they were mandated to ensure adherence to the rule of the law.

“We condemn the ZRP actions because as the law and order section, they are supposed to uphold the Constitution and not violate it,” said Dongozi.

In Zimbabwe, there have been calls to repeal laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, Interception of Communications Act, Official Secrets Act and Broadcasting Services Act, among others as they stifle media freedom.

However, Chapter 61 of the Constitution guarantees media freedom although laws such as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act have not yet been aligned with the supreme law of the land.

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