Police Arrest And Harass Journalists Covering Lockdown Enforcement
17 May 2020
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BEITBRIDGE journalist Rex Mphisa has become the latest victim of police heavy-handedness after he was arrested while covering the enforcement of the lockdown regulations.

Mphisa, who writes for NewsDay and The Standard, was arrested together with Zimbabwe Newspapers sales and circulation representative Charles Marerwa, businessman Thulani Nasha and one Davison Sibanda at a local butchery on Friday evening.

Police, led by a sergeant identified only as Wafawanaka, had been outpaced by an amateur photographer, who captured them arresting suspected female drug dealers using dogs, then turned towards the four who were part of a large crowd that watched the scene in Dulivhadzimo.

The four were thrown into cells while the drug dealers were set free in yet unclear circumstances.

Mphisa, Marerwa, Nasha and Sibanda yesterday appeared before Beitbridge magistrate Anniah Chiweta who remanded them out of custody on free bail to June 4 for trial.

Their lawyer Jabulani Mzinyathi of Garikai and Company complained about the inhuman treatment his clients were subjected to despite that two of them, by virtue of being media practitioners, were internationally recognised as essential service providers.

“We are in the middle of a serious pandemic and these two are providing an information bridge to the population of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world in the fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic [and] are stopped. This is unlawful, worse so, when arresting officers struggled to come up with charges.”

Among other issues, Mzinyathi complained about the unprofessional approach by Beitbridge police who recently arrested a lawyer who had gone to see a client who had been picked by police.

Mzinyathi, acting on behalf of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), complained about police’s lack of mandatory Covid-19 rules and discipline that include social distancing.