Zim journalists held overnight, freed

Four Zimbabwean journalists detained on Friday while covering the eviction of a police officer from a government lodging were released without charge a day later, their lawyer said.

The four were taken to Mbembesi police station, where they were held for some time and were later released without charge,” lawyer Matshobana Ncube said.

“This is harassment of journalists in the course of doing their legitimate work.”

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 accused of taking pictures during the eviction of a police officer accused of sympathising with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party.

Tsvangirai shares power in a tense coalition with veteran President Robert Mugabe.

The arrests came two weeks after police detained the editor of the Standard and a staff reporter for a story that described a police officer as “notorious”.

Media in Zimbabwe have operated under strict rules for the last decade, with several newspapers forced to shut down while journalists and foreign correspondents have been deported and harassed by 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

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