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Bulawayo woman arrested and released on bail; faces charges of practicing journalism without accreditation

(MISA/IFEX) - A 60-year old Bulawayo woman, Margaret Ann Kriel, was arrested in the city on 10 April 2008 on allegations of practicing journalism without accreditation in violation of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), as amended in 2007. She was not formally charged and released until 22 April on Z$100 million (approx. US$3,300) bail.

She is to reside at her given address until the end of her case and was ordered to surrender her travel documents to the Clerk of the Criminal Court.

According to reports from Bulawayo, the court heard that between 14 February and 10 April, Kriel, in the company of Robin Lee Kriel and an unidentified person, carried out interviews at various places in the city and surrounding areas.

Robin Lee Kriel and the unidentified person are still at large, the court heard.

The state alleges that they interviewed Mr David Coltart of MDC-Mutambara and Ms Thokozani Khupe of MDC-Tsvangirai.

They allegedly also interviewed members of the public about the outcome of the elections, who they voted for and how they felt about the situation.

The state will seek to prove that they carried out these activities pretending to be accredited journalists when they were not.

In a case involving two South Africans who were acquitted on similar charges on 14 April, the court ruled that the two had no case to answer under the newly amended AIPPA as practicing without accreditation is no longer an offence because journalists can only be prosecuted on the recommendation of a statutory Media Council, which has not yet been established.

For further information on the case of the South Africans, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92613

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