28 July 2017

Zimbabwe: Harare Cops Beat Up, Arrest Journalists

Photo: New Zimbabwe
(File photo).

Three reporters and a driver from independent publisher Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) were Thursday arrested while on duty as the government steps up its onslaught against journalists.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba refused to comment on the arrests when contacted by NewZimbabwe.com, feigning ignorance over the incident.

"I don't know anything about that," Charamba said as she hung up her phone.

However, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) attorney Ngoni Kuzivakwashe - representing the quartet - confirmed the arrests but could give details as she was frantically working to have them released.

"Yes, they have been arrested. I am in a meeting right now; will contact you," said Kuzivakwashe.

AMH Senior Reporter Obey Manaiti was reportedly detained and later released after being charged with assault.

However, before the arrest, it is alleged the reporter and his colleagues were severely assaulted by police officers before being taken to Harare Central Police Station.

Journalist Abigail Matsikidze, photographer Shepherd Tozvireva and driver Raphael Phiri were not harmed during the scuffles but Manaiti sustained a bruised cheek and lips.

Reports say the incident occurred after the Newsday photographer was seen taking pictures of traffic police throwing spikes at motorists in the capital.

The cops then charged at the unsuspecting Tozvireva and a scuffle ensued as they tried to apprehend him. Officers in plainclothes reportedly manhandled Manaiti and bashed him with open palms and fists.

Thursday's arrests follow several other incidents of police brutality on journalists.

Last month, journalists Garikai Chaunza and Frank Chikowore were arrested as they covered the eviction of a white farmer in Rusape. The duo was ordered to delete their video recordings before being set free.

Back in March, NewsDay editor Wisdom Mudzungairi and senior reporter Richard Chidza were charged with insulting President Robert Mugabe.

The government has been targeting independent journalists as the country prepares for elections next year, amid opposition allegations that the Mugabe regime is planning to rig the vote.

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