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Soldiers in Gutu prevent vendors from selling copies of "The Mirror" newspaper

(MISA/IFEX) - On 14 January 2011, soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Battalion in Gutu allegedly prevented vendors from selling copies of "The Mirror", a Masvingo province weekly independent newspaper. The paper had published a story alleging that army personnel had beaten up people at the Mupandawana Growth Point on Christmas Eve.

The story, which was published in the 7-13 January edition of the paper, was headlined "Soldiers run amok". It alleged that one soldier, Nxolise Ncube, was arrested for beating a policeman during the incident. According to the article, Ncube was sentenced to one year in prison. The soldiers claim that Ncube's case was an isolated bar brawl.

According to "The Mirror"'s editor, Golden Maunganidze, on 14 January, vendors and agencies were threatened by soldiers at the Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu after approximately 500 newspapers were delivered for circulation. Maunganidze says the newspapers were immediately returned to the newspaper offices. He said that the occurrence was unfortunate as the story was based on facts as confirmed by the army's provincial spokesperson, Officer Kingston Chivave, and Ncube's sentencing.

Maunganidze said that army officials have since been in contact with the paper to apologise for the incident and that "The Mirror" was back in circulation in Gutu on 17 January. No incidences of violence have been reported thus far.

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