Police this afternoon, 30 March, arrested student journalist, Tatenda Julius who is attached at Pungwe News (New Ziana). Tatenda was arrested in the city’s residential suburb of Dangamvura while taking pictures related to the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) lockdown. Police have accused him of practising journalism without a press card.

Efforts by both the Newspaper and our Mutare Advocacy Committee chairperson to prove that the student journalist works for the publication proved fruitless as the police were adamant that the courts should free the reporter.

MISA Zimbabwe has since engaged the services of its Media Lawyers Network (MLN) Passmore Nyakureba to attend to the case.

MISA Zimbabwe Position

MISA Zimbabwe urges the government of Zimbabwe to sensitise the uniformed forces on the role of the media, especially in the current efforts to arrest the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The practice of the craft of journalism is a constitutional derivative, which must be respected especially by law enforcement agencies. At this moment in time, the Zimbabwe Media Commission has not started the accreditation process.

Once again, we reiterate our call that the government through the uniformed forces must protect journalists in covering and keeping communities informed as the country grapples with the uncharted territory of containing the pandemic. We worry that the brazen arrests of journalists and holding them in police cells will expose the scribes to the risk of contaminating the deadly virus. No journalist must be exposed to these dangers, for simply exercising a constitutionally guaranteed right.

MISA Zimbabwe also reminds media practitioners that our staff is on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty.

SOS journalists’ hotline

If you are injured, detained or arrested in the line of duty, call MISA’s 24/7 SOS journalist hotline on 0784 437 338 to access legal and/or medical assistance. Don’t forget to have the number saved in your phone for emergencies!

Source: MISA Zimbabwe