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Three South African media workers sentenced to six months in prison, lawyers appealing sentences

(MISA/IFEX) - Three South African media workers were sentenced to six months in prison in Zimbabwe on 2 June 2008. The three were arrested on 23 May at a police roadblock in Mbalabala after being found in possession of broadcasting equipment with Britain's Sky News television station logos. Magistrate John Masimba delivered the sentence, which the defence lawyers say they will immediately challenge.

Bernet Hasani Sono, Resemate Boy Chauke and Simon Maodi, also known as Musimani, who all pleaded guilty, were given no option to post bail or pay fines. The trio's lawyer, Tawengwa Hara, will on 3 June file an urgent High Court application appealing the sentences. The magistrate granted Walter Bongani Dube, of the Attorney General's Office, a state application to keep the motor vehicle and the broadcasting equipment that was confiscated following the three men's arrest.

Masimba granted the co-accused Craig Markram Edy Z$40 billion (approx. US$70) bail on 30 May with strict reporting conditions.

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On 30 May Sono, Chauke and Maodi were convicted by Bulawayo Magistrate John Masimba after pleading guilty to the charge. The trio, who are reportedly employed by Sky News, appeared at the Bulawayo Magistrate's Court on 29 May on charges of contravening Section 33 of the Post and Telecommunications Act.

The three were arrested on 23 May at a police roadblock in Mbalabala and found in possession of broadcasting equipment with Britain's Sky News television logos.

Upon being queried by the police with regard to the owners of the equipment, the men failed to give a satisfactory explanation, leading to their arrest.

The men then led the police to Number 13, Bessborough Road, Belmont, in Bulawayo where they had picked up the equipment. The premises are owned by Craig Markram Edy of Hillside, Bulawayo.

Updates the Sono, Chauke and Maodi case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94173

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