Journalists charged under COVID-19 regulations remanded in custody
Journalists Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira were on 23 May 2020 denied bail and remanded in custody to 26 May 2020 on charges of breaching Section 11 (b) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 in terms of the COVID-19 regulations when they appeared before the court in Harare’s suburb of Mbare.
According to their lawyer, Paidamoyo Saurombe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the charge deals with failure to comply or obey without substantive cause, the instructions of a police officer. The State opposed bail following an application by their lawyer.
The court remanded them in custody to Tuesday next week for a ruling on the bail application.
Chikowore and Takawira were arrested around 8 am at Parktown Clinic in Harare’s Waterfalls suburb on 22 May 2020, where three female MDC Alliance officials, that include Member of Parliament for Harare West Joanna Mamombe, are being treated following their alleged abduction and torture after staging a demonstration in Warren Park, Harare.
Saurombe said the journalists who spent a night in police cells, were only informed of the charges around 4 pm on the day they were arrested. “We also raised that (delay in informing them of the charges) as a complaint because that is a violation of their rights. One must be promptly informed of the reason for their arrest,” the lawyer said.
Chikowore and Takawira had reportedly gone to the clinic to interview the three MDC Alliance officials resulting in their arrest. The journalists were initially taken to Waterfalls Police Station before being transferred to Harare Central Police Station where they spent the night in the cells.
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The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.