THREE Bulawayo City Council security personnel, who are charged with confiscating and damaging a freelance photojournalist’s equipment, on Wednesday told the court that the journalist volunteered to get into the council truck and he was heard calling for their assault during the raid.
Russell Lunga (44) of Magwegwe, Lovemore Ndlovu (32) of Emganwini and Watson Moyo (34) of Nkulumane denied the charges of malicious damage to property and theft, when they appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa. The magistrate remanded them out of custody to February 2 for continuation of trial.
In his defence, Lunga told the court that on the day they raided illegal vendors confiscating their wares. He said Chrispen Tabvura was heard shouting that what were they doing was wrong and the council security should be assaulted.
“From there our co-worker in plain clothes arrested him and put him into the truck,” Lunga said. “He voluntarily handed his camera to Ndlovu, who took it to Drill Hall. We handed his camera to Drill Hall officials.
“An Assistant Inspector at Drill Hall wrote that he collected his camera. The following day we were surprised to hear he claimed we had stolen and damaged his camera.”
He said Tabvura used the pictures in his camera to select whom to accuse in the matter.
Ndlovu echoed Lunga’s testimony, saying when they asked him who he was, he said he was a journalist and he handed his camera to them. He said they never forced him to get into the truck and they never damaged his camera.
Ndlovu said when Tabvura was in the truck, he claimed the municipal police had stolen and damaged his camera.
Prosecutor Danmore Kasenza told the court that on November 13 2014 at 5:30pm, Tabvura was at corner Fort Street and 10th Avenue in Bulawayo, when he saw the council officials arresting illegal vendors and confiscating their wares.
This triggered his interest and he started photographing the skirmishes.
Tabvura was noticed by the three security officers, who were not in council uniforms. They allegedly approached him before manhandling him and throwing him into the truck.
The officers confiscated and threw his camera to the back of the truck, damaging it in the process. The three officers allegedly drove him to police licensing section, where they intended to lay charges on him, but later he was released without a charge.
He then made a report to the police, leading to the arrest of the three.
The damaged camera was worth $145 and it was recovered and repaired by the owner.