Abduction Saga – Zim Journalists to Endure Weekend in Jail Following Arrest for Violating Covid-19 Order

TWO Zimbabwean journalists will spend the weekend in jail pending the determination of their application for release from prison custody on bail.

The two journalists Frank Chikowore, a freelance journalist and Samuel Takawira, who works for 263Chat appeared before Magistrate Manase Masiiwa at Mbare Magistrates Court in Harare on Saturday 23 May 2020 after they were arrested on Friday 22 May 2020 by some Zimbabwe Republic Police members at Parktown Hospital in Waterfalls suburb in Harare while allegedly filming and interviewing some victims of abduction and torture currently detained at the medical facility and charged with contravening section 11(b) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020, Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020.

Prosecutors alleged that Chikowore and Takawira, who were represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe and Tonderai Bhatasara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights failed or refused without sufficient cause to comply with any request made or direction given by a police officer when they allegedly sneaked into the High Dependency Unit at Parktown Hospital to interview Harare West legislator Joanna Mamombe and MDC Alliance party youth leaders Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, who are currently hospitalised at the medical facility after they were abducted and disappeared and tortured by some yet to be identified people.

Prosecutors charged that Chikowore and Takawira were arrested by Detective Constable Collin Makore, who was reportedly providing security at the medical facility for allegedly failing to observe the social distancing rule between themselves as well as not maintaining social distancing with the detained victims of abduction and torture.

In their bail application, Saurombe and Bhatasara argued that Chikowore and Takawira must be released from custody on bail while prosecutors opposed their freedom bid.

This prompted Magistrate Musiiwa to postpone the matter to Tuesday 26 May 2020, where he will hand down his ruling on the journalists’ bail application.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights