(MISA/IFEX) - On 30 November 2010, Nevanji Madanhire, editor of "The Standard" weekly newspaper, was arrested and charged with breaching Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which deals with the publication of falsehoods prejudicial to the state. He appeared in court on 1 December and was granted bail of US$100.
Madanhire was detained overnight at Rhodesville Police Station in Harare. The offence carries a 20-year prison term or the option of a fine. The charges arise from a story written by journalist Nqobani Ndlovu about the postponement of police promotional examinations. Ndlovu is facing similar charges.
Harare magistrate Svodai Kadirire remanded Madanhire to 16 December and ordered him not to interfere with witnesses and to reside at his usual address in Harare.
MISA-Zimbabwe Chairperson Loughty Dube condemned the continued harassment of journalists. "We want journalists to be allowed to go about their work without being harassed and intimidated, and we call upon the police to allow journalists to go about their work without fear," he said.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Dumisani Sibanda said the police is a state institution which should be prepared to face public scrutiny of its activities. "We journalists are the watchdogs of society and we will not be deterred. Journalists should continue to carry out their professional duties, without fear or favour," said Sibanda.
"Police should concentrate on fighting crime and arresting criminals instead of following professionals doing their duties. We will not be intimidated and we will continue to expose social ills."
The charges against Madanhire relate to a story authored by Ndlovu, of "The Standard", on the postponement of police promotional examinations. Ndlovu was arrested on 17 November and released on 26 November after spending nine days at Khami Remand Prison on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city.
Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act pertains to the publishing or communication of false statements prejudicial to the state and carries a maximum 20-year prison term or the option of a fine.
On 26 November, Zimbabwean journalists and representative media organisations petitioned Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai expressing grave concern over the increase in the number of cases involving the arrests and harassment of journalists.
Click below for further information on the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act:
Sections_31_and_96_of_the_criminal_code.doc (36 KB)
Click below for the petition to the prime minister:
MAZ_petition.pdf (33 KB)