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Sky News employees fined, released and deported

(MISA/IFEX) - Three South African nationals employed by Sky News - Bernet Hasani Sono, Resemate Chauke and Simon Musimani - who were serving a six-month jail term have since been released after a High Court judge reviewed the sentence and commuted it to a fine.

The three were convicted on their own plea to contravening Section 33 (1) of the Postal and Telecommunications Chapter 12:03 by illegally bringing broadcasting equipment into the country without a licence.

High Court judge Justice Maphios Cheda ruled that the trial magistrate had misdirected himself by imposing a custodial sentence in circumstances that warranted a non-custodial sentence. They were each fined Z$50 billion (approx. US$2.50) and immediately deported after paying the fines.

"Judicial offices have been advised by both this court and the Supreme Court that custodial sentences should only be imposed in very serious offences, of which this one is not. I agree with both counsels (state and defence) that the sentences passed are unduly harsh in the circumstances where justice called for non-custodial sentence," ruled Justice Cheda.

The three were represented by Tavengwa Hara who filed an urgent High Court application seeking a review of the matter, arguing that the sentence imposed by the trial magistrate was excessive.

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