NewsDay reporter Blessed Mhlanga was on 5 June 2018 charged with contravening Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act arising from his alleged assault of deputy Finance Minister Terence Mukupe.
This followed the recording of a warned and cautioned statement by the police from Mhlanga at Harare Central Police Station on allegations of assaulting the deputy minister on 24 May 2018 at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) Spot FM Highlands Studios.
The State alleges Mhlanga teamed up with his wife Florence, in assaulting the deputy minister by "pushing him [Mukupe] and pulling his jacket". Mhlanga denies the allegation.
According to his lawyer, Chris Mhike, the journalist maintains that the State should be going after Mukupe, who unreasonably lost his temper during a radio interview and used violence against Mhlanga and his wife.
Mhike told MISA Zimbabwe the complaint filed by Mhlanga to the police against the deputy minister on 24 May 2018 pertaining to the government official's alleged violent attack on Mhlanga and his wife, has been in a lull for the past two weeks.
"The application of criminal law on journalists in respect of their journalistic work has a chilling effect on the media sector. In this case, we are deeply mystified by the fact that a journalist who was publicly attacked verbally and physically, now finds himself being treated as an accused," said Mhike.
Mhike, who is a member of MISA Zimbabwe's Media Lawyers Network, is representing Mhlanga under the organisation's Media Defence Fund.