Freelance journalist Panashe Makufa was on 26 November 2020 arrested in Harare’s central business district while taking pictures of commuter transport problems.

Makufa was released without charge after being held by the police for about an hour.

The pictures that he captured as part of the story included images of the police officers who arrested him in the mistaken belief that it is a crime for journalists to photograph members of the uniformed forces.

Despite producing his Zimbabwe Media Commission press card, the police still proceeded to arrest him and took him to Harare Central Police Station for further interrogation.

Makufa was only released following the deployment of lawyer Chris Mhike by MISA Zimbabwe. Mhike explained to the police that the arrest was a violation of media freedom and that Makufa had not broken any known law.

MISA Zimbabwe position 
The government of Zimbabwe, and specifically the Commissioner-General of Police, should sensitise members of the uniformed forces on the role of the media as guaranteed by the Constitution. 

MISA Zimbabwe urges the police to be mindful of the court order by High Court judge, Justice Manzunzu, on 20 April 2020, directing the police and other law enforcement agents to refrain from unjustifiably interfering with the work of journalists.

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 ín the line of duty, call our 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!

Find out more about the hotline here.

Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe