Journalists union condemns arrest of the second journalist during the lockdown. NewsDay and Voice of America correspondent Nunurai Jena, 55, was stopped at a police checkpoint in Chinhoyi and initially accused of using an expired press card before the officers charged him of disorderly conduct.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) on Thursday condemned the arrest a second journalist during Zimbabwe’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown. On Monday, police arrested and later released Gweru-based freelance journalist Kudzanai Musengi for possessing a 2019 press card.
The information ministry intervened in that incident and explained that journalists were yet to be issued with press cards for 2020, owing to delays by the Zimbabwe Media Commission in gazetting new fees.
Jena was taken to Chinhoyi Magistrates Court after his arrest but the court was closed and is now expected to appear at the same court on Friday. ZUJ secretary Foster Dongozi said: “This is getting ridiculous and out of hand. Journalists have become a significant statistic in Zimbabwe. Let’s fight COVID-19, not journalists.”
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it had deployed one of its lawyers, Kudzai Choga, to represent the journalist.
In a statement, the lawyers said: “Jena was charged with contravening section 11(a)(b) of the Public Health (COVID-19), Prevention, Containment and Treatment (National Lockdown) Order, 2020 and with disorderly conduct as defined in section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after he was arrested while recording video footage of some police officers who were manning a checkpoint set up long the Chinhoyi-Chegutu highway in Mashonaland West province.
“Zimbabwe Republic Police members who arrested Jena claimed that he insulted some police officers who were manning the checkpoint by accusing them of being corrupt and thus hindered and obstructed them from carrying out their duties, including refusing to comply with their orders.
“ZRP claimed that Jena recorded video footage of them checking on and educating some pedestrians and motorists about the carriage and movement of people as stipulated in regulations gazetted by the government early this week to contain the spread of coronavirus, and without the consent of police officers.
“Jena was first quizzed for using a 2019 media accreditation card before the law enforcement agents backed down as its use is still valid.”
Source – Zimlive
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