Police in Harare on 21 July 2020 searched the home of arrested journalist Hopewell Chin’ono for documents and other articles he used in allegedly committing the offence of inciting public violence for which he is being charged with.
On 20 July 2020, Chin’ono was charged with contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with Section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, or alternatively for contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with Section 36(1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The charges relate to incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry or alternatively incitement to commit public violence.
Following his arrest, the police went to his home with the intention of searching for evidence, but could not do so, as they failed to produce a warrant of search.
However, Harare magistrate, Judith Taruvinga, subsequently granted the police the search and seizure warrant. The police then returned to “conduct a search at the house for any documents and other articles used by the accused to commit the offence”.
In the execution of the warrant, police clashed with Chin’ono’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, as they sought to confiscate the journalist’s camera. Mtetwa argued that the alleged offence was said to have been committed through a tweet, which does not include the use of a camera.
In addition, the warrant did not include the seizure of a camera and was only limited to documents, she argued.
MISA Zimbabwe is yet to ascertain what documents were collected as part of the investigations by the police officers.
Chin’ono remains detained at Harare Central Police Station, where he spent the night in police cells on Monday night. He is yet to appear before the courts.