/ 14 April 2008

Zim court releases SA technicians

Two South African technicians arrested two weeks ago under Zimbabwe’s laws relating to the media and defeating the course of justice were acquitted and freed on Monday, a colleague said.

”We heard a few minutes ago — they were acquitted on all charges,” said Abdulhak Gardee, financial director of their employer, GlobeCast Africa.

”Finally they are coming home.”

After their acquittal, Sipho Maseko and Abdulla Gaibee were rushed to the South African embassy in Harare so that they would not be rearrested, as happened on their first acquittal.

”They are also quite relieved but they will be more relieved as soon as they are out of the country,” said Gardee.

”We are just waiting for the passports. We will get their passports and get them out of the country as soon as possible.”

The two, a satellite engineer and a cameraman, were arrested on March 27 under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which governs the terms of media work in the country.

They were arrested after facilitating a link-up for CNN ahead of the March 29 elections because they did not have their media accreditation card, although they had a letter of authority to enable them to work legally.

The defeating the course of justice charge related to them allegedly colluding with a magistrate who acquitted them after their initial court appearances. After this they were arrested again by police who did not accept the magistrate’s ruling. — Sapa