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Supporters of former ruling party jailed for assaulting TV crew

(MISA/IFEX) - 27 April 2012 - On Thursday, 26 April 2012, three Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party supporters were jailed for three years with hard labour for committing aggravated robbery on a television crew from the privately-owned, Muvi TV. The incident occurred in July 2011 and affected reporters, a cameraperson and a driver from the station.

Abram Banda, 28, Cephas Phiri, 29 and Use Mukalipi, 27 were jailed for physically attacking the news crew, which had gone to cover land wrangles between residents of Nakachenje area and MMD cadres in Lusaka West.

In passing judgment, Magistrate Alice Walusiku said journalists had a duty to investigate, disseminate, research, and inform, hence they should not be hindered in carrying out these noble tasks.

“Imagine a situation where there are no reporters in society, there is going to be not much to read about, including such things before the court today. It is for this reason that the court shall not allow political parties or any other persons to suppress journalists in their work,” she said.

It is alleged that the three accused acted together in stealing a Nokia 2700 cellphone, a TV camera, memory stick and ZMK45,000 (US$10) cash from Emmanuel Kaluba, a cameraperson at Muvi TV. It is also alleged that the three stole another cellphone, one black wallet and a wrist watch, all valued at K1,020,000 (US$200) and belonging to Edward Ntele, the Muvi TV driver.

Magistrate Walusiku said the attackers took the said property without authority and violence was used and that the complainants were traumatized. She also said the complainants sustained injuries and the prosecution team proved the offence of aggravated robbery was committed.

Reacting to the sentence, the Media Institute of Southern Africa's (MISA) Zambia Chapter, MISA-Zambia said the development was “a timely warning to all those with plans or are in the habit of perpetrating violence against media practitioners.”

Part of a statement released by MISA-Zambia, and signed by its Chairperson, Daniel Sikazwe reads: “We are convinced that the sentence has sent a strong signal to perpetrators of violence against media practitioners and urge all the journalists in Zambia to continue reporting cases of violence against them so that perpetrators can be brought to book.”

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