Freelance journalist Panashe Makufa was beaten up by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), today around 1700hrs in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana while undertaking his professional duties. Makufa briefed MISA Zimbabwe that he was taking pictures of a police operation wherein they were dispersing people in Kuwadzana as part of their enforcement of the national lockdown.
It has come to our attention that when the police approached him, Makufa produced his accreditation card and it was disregarded as having expired. The four police officers also instructed Makufa to get into their police vehicle where he was assaulted by two officers and forced to delete pictures before being dropped off at Kuwadzana 2 shops.
The MISA Zimbabwe lawyer is assisting Makufa on legal steps to take in response to the assault and loss of the entire day’s worth of footage. MISA Zimbabwe is also assisting the freelance journalist with access to medical attention.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe reiterates that police officers should co-operate with journalists and comply with the directives of the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to the effect that 2019 accreditation cards are still valid until the ZMC issues the new 2020 cards.
By continuously arresting, harassing, assaulting or attacking journalists who are conducting their lawful professional duties, the police are infringing not only on the constitutionally guaranteed right to media freedom but also on citizens’ right to access to information which is very critical at this moment when the country has put in place measures to curb and prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The law enforcement arm of the government cannot continue undermining the constitution on a technicality, which has been communicated for such a long time. The government must be cohesive and uphold the constitution of the republic through protecting members of the fourth estate especially during this time when the whole world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: MISA Zimbabwe