Zimbabwean police arrested four journalists on Friday while they were covering the eviction of a police officer from government lodging, unions said.
“The information we have is that four journalists were picked up by the police while covering the eviction of a police officer in Ntabazinduna,” Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary general Foster Dongozi has said.
He said Nqobani Ndlovu, a reporter at the privately owned Standard newspaper, Pindai Dube and Oscar Nkala of the Daily News and freelancer Pamenus Tuso were being held at Ntabazinduna, 30km north of the second city of Bulawayo.
“We condemn this act of impunity and the level of intolerance against journalists,” Dongozi said.
“Our fear is that they will be detained over the weekend in filthy cells.”
The Zimbabwe chapter of regional press watchdog Media Institute of Southern Africa said the police officer had been accused of supporting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, which shares power with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in a tense coalition government.
The arrests came two weeks after police detained the editor of the Standard and a staff reporter for a story that called a police officer “notorious”.
Media in Zimbabwe have operated under stringent rules for the last decade, with several newspapers forced to shut down while journalists and foreign correspondents have been deported and harassed by the police.
Tsvangirai has vowed to abolish the country’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which bans foreign journalists from working permanently in the country.
The 2002 Act forced media organisations and journalists to register with a government body and has been invoked to arrest independent journalists. — AFP