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"Standard" editor targeted by minister, local businessman

(MISA/IFEX) - 18 November 2011 - Barely a day after Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire was granted bail on charges of criminal defamation, police officers visited Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) saying they wanted to question him yet again on a different matter.

Detectives visited AMH, publishers of the Standard weekly, on 17 November to question Madanhire in connection with a story published in the paper's 1 October issue which alleged that Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi was trying to force new farmers off their land and allocate it to his son and nephew.

After failing to locate the editor, the detectives left instructions for him to report to Harare Central Police station on 18 November 2011.

Earlier in the week, Madanhire and Standard reporter Nqaba Matshazi faced questioning over another story by the weekly on businessman Munyaradzi Kereke's medical aid company, Green Card Medical Aid Society, which alleged the Harare-based company was facing financial collapse. The two were arrested and detained overnight by police on charges of criminal defamation and theft of documents from the company.

Madanhire and Matshazi were released on US$100 bail each by Harare Magistrate Sandra Mupindu. They were ordered to surrender their passports, refrain from interfering with witnesses and reside at their given addresses of residence as part of their bail conditions.

They were remanded to 20 December 2011 when their trial is expected to commence.

Madanhire and Matshazi have both denied ever being in possession of original documents or on the premises of the Green Card Society and have signed warned and cautioned statements denying the charges of theft.

AMH chief executive Raphael Khumalo said the move was meant to harass and intimidate journalists and criticised the police's "selective" application of the law.

MISA-Zimbabwe chair Njabulo Ncube said the case was an "attack on the little media freedom that people are enjoying in Zimbabwe".

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Dumisani Sibanda condemned the use of such old and undemocratic legislation such as criminal defamation to intimidate journalists and said they would continue to fight the laws.

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