The Zimbabwean section of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported that Ndamu Sandu and Godwin Mangudya, the two journalists who were arrested yesterday during a demonstration by the Combined Harare Residents Association, were released at the end of the afternoon today after spending the night in the Harare central police station. The 17 other demonstrators arrested yesterday were also freed.
Each paid fines of 250,000 Zimbabwean dollars (2.50 US dollars).
20.07.2005 - Two reporters arrested while covering Harare demonstration
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrests of Ndamu Sandu of the independent weekly The Standard and freelancer Godwin Mangudya while covering a demonstration by about 70 people yesterday in Harare to demand better municipal services and to protest against a city council decision raising the price of water by 1,000 per cent.
Seventeen members of the Combined Harare Residents Association, which organised the protest, were also detained by the police.
“We demand the immediate release of the detained journalists and demonstrators, Reporters Without Borders said. In 2001, the government adopted the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), allowing it to legally gag the press. Today, two journalists are being held without justification and without being allowed visits by their lawyers. We firmly condemn these practices and point out that President Robert Mugabe is on our list of the world’s 38 leading press freedom predators.”
The police still have not told the two journalist what they are charged with, while Sarah Chishiri of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who is acting for all 19 detainees, said the police still have not allowed her to see her clients.
Using the powers it gave itself under the AIPPA, the government has already had more than 10 journalists arrested and four newspapers, including the Daily News, closed down.
Meanwhile, with the economic situation in Zimbabwe now catastrophic and inflation at more than 1,200 per cent, the police systematically crack down on any sign of popular discontent.