|Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Masvingo province(Propol), Ass Com Taoneyi Nyazema|
Cases of journalists arrested and harassed while on duty during this lockdown are on the increase in the country with Masvingo province leading with three cases so far.
Police in Masvingo have so far arrested two journalists, Matthew Takaona of The Mirror and TellZim News’ Beatific Gumbwanda in separate incidents. They have since been released with no charges leveled against them. They also arrested four newspaper vendors and held them for several hours before releasing them without charge.
Takaona was detained by police officers manning a roadblock near Mucheke River bridge on his way to The Mirror offices in town, while Gumbwanda was arrested in Chiredzi on the instigation of an overzealous CIO officer.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Masvingo chairperson Passmore Kuzipa has condemned the continued arrest and harassment of journalists on duty.
“The arrest and harassment of journalists in Masvingo province is worrisome. I understand that both the police and the journalists are providing essential services during this lockdown, and since we all fighting to reduce the spread of Covid-19, I don’t see the reason why the police would want to feel more important than all other stakeholders who are providing essential services during this lockdown.”
“I want to urge the police starting from the Officer Commanding Masvingo Province to the least rank of Constable to respect journalists and allow them to do their work freely. Journalism is not a crime. I also want to urge my fellow colleagues to also respect the police officers on duty and produce their press cards for easy identification,” said Kuzipa.
Kuzipa said he hope the situation or the relationship between the police and journalists in the province will improve after the engagements he had with the police this week.
“I have managed to engage the officer commanding Masvingo district, the Officer In-Charge (Crime) and Masvingo Provincial Police Spokesperson over these unnecessary arrests and detention. I am sure that journalists in the province will be allowed to do their work without hindrances; in fact I hope to see the police arresting those who want to disturb journalists from doing their work,” said Kuzipa.