On the afternoon of 29 October, Zimbabwe Republic Police officers beat up and detained freelance journalist Philemon Jambaya. The wrongful arrest took place as part of a joint ZRP and Harare municipality police operation in Harare’s Copacabana area that saw the arrest of vendors working in the area.
Police officers accused the journalist of being a phone dealer and of taking photographs of the joint operation. Jambaya was beaten up in the process, despite producing his passport, and media accreditation card.
Police officers detained Jambaya for the better part of the afternoon. He was transferred to Harare Central Police Station in the evening only to be released after MISA Zimbabwe lawyer Christopher Mhike intervened. Jambaya recovered his passport from the police but he is still to recover his press accreditation card.
At the time of writing, he had been released and was on his way to a local Harare hospital to receive medical treatment for his physical injuries. The journalist has indicated that he will make a formal police report once he has received medical treatment. MISA Zimbabwe will report on this as the story develops.
Jambaya becomes the seventh journalist in the past 2 months to have been either assaulted, harassed, or detained during police operations against vendors.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe condemns the continued violation of constitutionally guaranteed media freedoms during police operations. Police officers are discouraged from using unwarranted force when dealing with journalists because the practice is not in any way a crime.
Media practitioners are advised to utilise the MISA JournoSOS App as well as the MISA Panic Button App in the event of any violations. MISA Zimbabwe staff is also on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty. The MISA Hotline is 0784 437 338.