The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) , fight to assist, jailed journalist, ‘Patrick Chitongo’

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has embarked into a fight to assist the journalist jailed for operating an unlicenced newspaper.

ZLHR communications officer Kumbirai Mafundasaid human rights lawyers on Friday 26 June 2015 filed a notice of appeal against the conviction and imprisonment of Patrick Chitongo, a freelance journalist, who was convicted and sentenced to serve eight months in jail for allegedly publishing an unregistered newspaper.

Chiredzi Magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga on Tuesday 23 June 2015 convicted and sentenced Chitongo to serve 12 months in prison of which four months were suspended for five years and ordered to serve eight months imprisonment for publishing and printing a newspaper, The Southern Mirror, without a valid registration from the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) in contravention of Section 72 (1) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Chitongo had been on trial together with his co-accused Givemore Kudzwida, Courage Bandera and Dadirai Musokweni, who were acquitted by Magistrate Mhlanga on Tuesday 23 June 2015.

Prosecutors accused Chitongo of contravening Section 72 (1) of AIPPA by operating a mass media service without a certificate.

“But Chitongo’s lawyer Martin Mureri of Matutu and Mureri Legal Practitioners, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, on Friday 26 June 2015 filed a notice of appeal in the High Court seeking to set aside both conviction and sentence and that the freelance journalist should be found not guilty and acquitted,” said Mafunda. “Mureri argued that Magistrate Mhlanga erred and misdirected himself in convicting and sentencing Chitongo, a father of two children.”

He said Mureri contended that the Magistrate erred by making a finding that Chitongo had published the Southern Mirror for there is only one copy of the newspaper, which is a dummy copy.
“The human rights lawyer argued that the Magistrate erred by relying on the interpretation by ZMC chief executive officer Tafataona Mahoso on what a dummy copy should look like for he is not the authority,” said Mafunda. “Mureri argued that Chitongo did not contravene AIPPA for he didn’t publish the newspaper but just printed a dummy copy as a requirement for registration of the publication with the ZMC.”

The lawyer also indicated that Magistrate Mhlanga misdirected himself by indicating that the Southern Mirror had circulated in Chiredzi. – Source.bulawayo24

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