A Harare judge ruled on 14 July that two journalists - Frank Chikowore, a freelancer, and Luke Tamborinyoka, a former editor of the now-closed Daily News - and 12 opposition activists should be removed from remand because of the state’s failure to prosecute them on charges of “public violence”.
Arrested in Harare on 15 April for allegedly helping to set fire to a bus, Chikowore and Tamborinyoka were released on bail 17 days later.
Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, pointed out to the judge on 14 July that his two clients had
systematically turned up in court for all the hearings but the prosecutors had repeatedly failed to set a trial date. The judge ruled that the two journalists and the opposition activists could be summoned again if prosecutors produced new evidence.
05.05.2008 - Freelancer Frank Chikowore freed on bail after 17 days
Freelance journalist Frank Chikowore was released on bail on 2 May along with the six opposition members with whom he was arrested on 15 April, his lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said.
But freelance journalist Precious Shumba, a programmes officer in the Harare office of the international aid NGO ActionAid, is still detained along with ActionAid country director Anne Chipembere and three other ActionAid employees at the “Law and Order” section of the Harare central police station. Shumba was reporter for The Daily News until it was forced to close.
02.05.2008 - Another journalist arrested, 10th since 29 March general elections
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s arrest of freelance journalist Precious Shumba in a police raid on the Harare office of the international aid NGO ActionAid, where Shumba works as a programmes officer. A reporter for The Daily News until it was forced to close, he is the 10th journalist to be arrested since the general elections.
“The police are still operating as the armed wing of a beleaguered government, instead of keeping order and protecting citizens,” the press freedom organisation said.
“Zimbabwe’s police force was gradually turned into a militia that looks after the interests of Robert Mugabe and his cronies and cracks down on those who get in their way. Any peaceful solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis must include the release of all the victims of this unjust situation, in which journalists have been favourite targets.”
When the police raided ActionAid’s office yesterday morning, they arrested all of the five employees present, including Shumba and ActionAid country director Anne Chipembere. They are currently being held at the “Law and Order” section of the Harare central police station but have not yet been formally charged.
A Harare court yesterday again postponed a decision on a request for the release of freelance journalist Frank Chikowore on bail. Chikowore was arrested with 27 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on 15 April for allegedly disturbing the peace. At first he was wrongly accused of working without the required Media and Information Commission’s accreditation. Now, he and six MDC members are charged with helping to set fire to a bus.
Another freelance journalist, Stanley Karombo, is currently hospitalised as a result of being badly beaten while detained from 18 to 21 April. Arrested as he was taking photos during a speech by President Mugabe at an independence day event at Gwanzura stadium in the Harare suburb of Highfield, he was taken to a room underneath the stadium and was beaten all day by several policemen, who accused him of “sending films to America.”
“At 9 p.m., they blindfolded me and took me somewhere else,” he told fellow journalists who visited him in hospital. “I woke up the next day in a cell. I am afraid at night. I can no longer stand the dark. I have the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. I keep having nightmares and I am having problems with my vision.”