Journalist Charged Under Non-Existent Law, Is Freed


PROSECUTORS have withdrawn charges against a journalist who had been charged under a non-existent law.

Wellington Mukhanhaire, 26, employed by The Messenger weekly newspaper, had been charged under section 83 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (AIPPA) Act, “Unaccredited journalist.”

The section was repealed in 2007.

He was arrested on February 11 while covering a tour of the Beitbridge Border Post by Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo.

The State led by Nomathemba Sayi withdrew the charges before resident magistrate Gloria Takundwa yesterday.

The scribe’s lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Mukanhaire’s arrest on the basis of a non-existent law was tantamount to intimidation and the stifling of media freedom.

“Failure to produce an accreditation card from the Zimbabwe Media Commission doesn’t amount to any criminal offence under the current provisions of AIPPA.

“As lawyers for human rights we frown upon such intimidation and abuse of people’s rights where the police arrest to investigate instead of investigating to arrest.

“However, we take note that the state has come to its senses and withdrawn the charges before plea” said Jamela.

Allegations were that on February 11 at around 4PM, Mukhanhaire was among a delegation which was accompanying the Minister of Home Affairs Chombo who was touring Beitbridge Border post.

During the tour, Mukhanhaire was approached by police officers who asked him to produce his ZMC media card but he failed.

He told the cops the ZMC was yet to print the card, although the accreditation process had been done.

He was then arrested. Thupeyo Muleya. Source Chronicle

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