Plain-clothed police officers on Thursday afternoon brutally attacked three Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) journalists, Obey Manayiti, photojournalist, Shepherd Tozvireva and Abigail Matsikidze and driver, Raphael Phiri, accusing them of taking pictures in the Harare central business district.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Bizarrely, the police then said they were charging Manayiti and Tozvireva with assault.
The police have indicated that they are detaining Manayiti overnight, while Tozvireva was freed.
The officers jumped into an AMH vehicle and grabbed Phiri and the journalists before assaulting Manayiti with fists, leaving him sore and swollen.
Manayiti suffered a bruised lip and a swollen eye during the attack.
Tozvireva and Phiri where also roughed up in the chaos.
Lawyer, Kuzivakwashe Ngodza from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said Manayiti was still detained, while Tozvireva, Matsikidze and Phiri were released.
Manayiti and Tozvireva are accredited by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, but the police turned a blind eye to their accreditation before going on the rampage.
Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (Misa) chairperson, Kumbirai Mafunda was quick to condemn the violence against the journalists, saying it was unacceptable.
“We know police pick up journalists and detain them, that in itself an attack on press freedom, but this time they have gone too far, attacking and assaulting journalists should be frowned upon,” he said.
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe condemned the police’s actions.
“The heavy-handed and unlawful actions by the police pose great risk to the lives of journalists discharging their constitutionally protected responsibility of keeping the public informed,” the body said.
“The attack on the scribes is a direct attack on media freedoms and the right to inform.
“The VMCZ, strongly believes in an ethical, accountable and professional media and these three important tenets cannot be achieved if the media continue to operate under threat and constant fear of possible attacks by the police or any members of society.”
AMH are publishers of NewsDay, The Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and Southern Eye.