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Police drops charges against Mirror Editor

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Police drops charges against Mirror Editor


Simbarashe Mtembo


MASVINGO–In yet another about turn Masvingo CID has said that it has dropped charges for writing falsehoods it preferred against Mirror Editor, Garikai Mafirakureva.

Mafirakureva went to CID Masvingo Central this morning ready to go to court and was initially told to wait for the officer-in-charge James Nyoni to sign the court papers. Later he was told that the four State witnesses in the case Sup Janyure, Sup Evans Musona, Chief Sup Chigona and Chief Sup Rufu were not available to go to court.

After spending three hours sitting at the Police Station, the investigating Officer Detective Assistant Inspector Edwin Masiiwa told Mafirakureva that Police was dropping all charges and no reasons were given.

However, there was a clash earlier on Wednesday at the Police station with the Police Public Relations Department urging CID to drop the case because it had no merit. The case was then withdrawn only to be resuscitated yesterday.

The case emanated from a murder report that happened in Muchakata in Masvingo Rural District on Saturday. The Mirror published the story including fears expressed by villagers that the case might die a natural death because one of the suspects had close links with some officers in the CID.

Four top CIDs’ in Masvingo who are now State witnesses were offended by the villagers’ statement which they said could be misconstrued to be an accusation against them. They said the statement was a falsehood that tarnished both their names and ZRP as an organisation.

Commenting after the withdrawal, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) lawyer Martin Mureri said Mafirakureva’s arrest is a clear case of harassment. He said Police knew that they had no case but for two days summoned Mafirakureva and kept him at the Police Station only to withdraw the case.

“To detain a journalist for hours and then withdraw charges without going to court is clear harassment. Police is there to protect people’s rights and what they did here is the opposite. Police must forthwith stop this kind of behavior,” said Mureri.

Meanwhile the Community Newspapers Association of Zimbabwe has condemned the arrest and said it goes against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Government’s media law reform initiatives.

“As an organisation of newspaper publishers, we do not agree that journalists should be arrested simply because some people think that other people’s words would have negative impact on the Police.

“It is unjustifiable that such stringent laws are being used as tools against journalists whose role is in any case watchdog,” said outgoing CNAZ secretary general Owen Matava.

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