Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Zimbabwe26 May 2008

Independent weekly’s latest issue torched, freelance reporter beaten up

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the continuing use of violence against the independent press after 60,000 copies of The Zimbabwean On Sunday newspaper were intercepted and torched on the evening of 24 May and a freelance reporter was attacked and beaten in the eastern city of Mutare.

“These attacks must not remain unpunished,” the press freedom organisation said. “Since the 29 March general elections, the authorities have been guilty of at least 12 violations of their national and international undertakings in the form of physical attacks and arbitrary arrests of journalists. These attacks on the independent press are now being carried out by unidentified men armed with AK-47 rifles and using 4WD vehicles.”

A truck containing 60,000 copies of The Zimbabwean On Sunday, which is edited by Zimbabwean exiles based in Britain and printed in South Africa, was intercepted on the main road linking South Africa and Zimbabwe about 150 km south of Masvingo by eight gunmen with AK-47 type rifles. The newspaper’s editor, Wilf Mbanga, said he assumed the gunmen were Zimbabwean intelligence agents.

They forced driver Christmas Ramabulana and distribution assistant Tapfumaneyi Kancheta to drive the truck to a deserted spot, where they set it on fire. They also seized and burned Kancheta’s passport, and beat him and Ramabulana before departing, leaving the two of them with their torched truck.

Freelance journalist Sydney Saize was attacked outside Mutare, near the border with Mozambique, on the evening of 18 May. He was returning home when four men invited him to get into their 4WD vehicle with them. After driving a short distance, they stopped, accused him of being a traitor and gave him a beating. They finally left him at the side of the road.

In this country
14 May - Zimbabwe
Three journalists arrested, held overnight then freed on bail
21 April - Zimbabwe
Freelance photojournalist released on bail
3 March - Zimbabwe
Woman journalist freed after being held for three months
18 February - Zimbabwe
Reporters Without Borders makes three recommendations in open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai
9 January - Zimbabwe
Regional body asked to intercede on behalf of imprisoned woman journalist

in the annual report
Zimbabwe - Annual Report 2008
Zimbabwe - Annual Report 2007
Zimbabwe - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists