03.05.2002 - The three journalists have been temporarily released
Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, from The Daily News, and Andrew Meldrum, a correspondant for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, were temporarily released on 2 May in the afternoon. Meldrum’s lawyer asked court to drop the charges, and the Daily News journalists’ lawyer is going to introduce the same request.
02.05.2002 - Three journalists charged under the new information Act
In a letter to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF-Reporters Without Borders) protested against the arrest of Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, journalists with the Daily News, and of Andrew Meldrum, correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in the UK. "Without judging the merits of these cases, nothing justifies the arrest of journalists carrying out their work", said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of the organisation. " Independent journalists are being treated as "criminals" in Zimbabwe. In the name of press freedom these arrests, which have become routine since the passing of the new information bill on 15 March, should be immediately halted, he said. RSF called for the release of the three journalists.
According to information obtained by RSF, the three journalists are currently detained at the central police station in Harare. They have been charged with "abuse of journalistic privilege" which, under the new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, entails up to two years imprisonment and a fine of 100 000 Zimbabwe dollars (approximately 2 023 euros). Andrew Meldrum, a US national who is a permanent resident of Zimbabwe, was arrested at his home on 1 May 2002. Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza were arrested on 30 April. These two were due to appear in court on May 2.
All three journalists had reported on the beheading of a woman by militants of the ruling ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party), in a village in north-west Zimbabwe. The story was carried by the Daily News on 23 April and by the Guardian the following day. The management of the Daily News subsequently acknowledged that the credibility of the report remained in doubt and had apologised for any prejudice to ZANU-PF.
RSF recalled that on 15 April 2002, Geoffrey Nyarota, editor of the Daily News, was also been formally charged with "abuse of journalistic privilege". The journalist had been taken to the main police station in Harare and briefly questioned. He was accused of having published articles denouncing inconsistencies and failures on the part of the chief election official in the presidential elections, Tobaiwa Mudede. On 10 April, the registrar-general gave a press conference election results that differed from those announced on national television the day after the 13 March poll.