Voice of America’s Studio 7 and 263Chat reporters arrested in Harare

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TWO Harare-based journalists were arrested yesterday for allegedly violating Covid-19 regulations after sneaking into Parktown Medical Private Hospital in Waterfalls to interview three MDC-Alliance members being treated there.

They are due to appear in court today for contravening lockdown regulations by refusing to accept instructions from an enforcement officer.

The three MDC-A members – Harare West MP Johanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Christine Marova – were recently reported missing before being located at Muchapondwa Business Centre in Musana, Bindura, last Friday and are being treated in the private hospital.

Government has since ordered for a full-scale investigation into their alleged abduction.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the arrest of Frank Chikowore (40) of Voice of America’s Studio 7 and Samuel Takawira (29) of 263Chat.

He said the two were still in police custody at Harare Central Police Station last night and would be taken to court today.

“Circumstances leading to their arrests are that the two went to the hospital at around 8am and it is believed that they sneaked into the hospital after conniving with a security guard at the hospital.

“They had intended to interview the three MDC-Alliance members who are admitted at the hospital and they had laid their equipment down when they were seen by security at the premises, who alerted the police,” he said.

The security team first questioned them on how they gained entry into the hospital without following the Covid-19 regulations, and how they got in before the visiting hour of 10am.

They were informed that their presence inside the hospital was not required, and were taken to Waterfalls Police Station for questioning.

Their lawyer, Mr Paidamoyo Brian Saurombe, later arrived at the police station before Chikowore and Takawira were taken to Harare Central Police Station.

The section they will be charged with states: “Any person who fails or refuses without sufficient cause to comply with any request made or direction given by a police officer, customs officer, immigration officer or enforcement officer in the carrying out of this part shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year to both such fine and such imprisonment.”

Asst Comm Nyathi dismissed reports on social media alleging that the two had been abducted and that they were taken away by heavily armed police officers. He said it was a normal arrest and they were able to have their lawyer present.

Speaking during a joint press conference this week, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, said he had directed police to institute a full-scale investigation into what transpired after the flash demonstration by MDC-Alliance youths in Warren Park, Harare, last week.

The investigations would establish what transpired, who did what, the motive behind the actions, how the three reached Musana and all the other queries.

Minister Kazembe said the demonstration was illegal as the organisers did not follow procedures, especially considering that demonstrations are not permitted gatherings during the lockdown.

— Herald


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