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By Staff Reporter

A ZIMBABWEAN journalist was shot in an apparent hijack attempt in crime-ridden Johannesburg on Monday night, reports said.

Abel Mutsakani, a journalist and editor of a Zimbabwean online newspaper, was discharged from hospital on Thursday after taking a single bullet to the chest which ricocheted off his raised elbow, said Daniel Molokele, a friend.

The attack was “out of the blue”, Molokele said the journalist had told him.

“The incident happened just after he got home from work and the area where he lives is a bit isolated. Abel described the attack as out of the blue because the assailant shot him in panic and fled as he confronted the trio,” Molokele said.

He said “on the face of it”, the attack appeared to have been an attempt to hijack Mutsakani’s car.

“We cannot rule out political mischief though,” Molokele added. “In a crime ridden country like South Africa, it’s easy for a political motive to cover itself under criminal behaviour.”

Mutsakani, who founded ZimOnline with another journalist, Basildon Peta, is one of dozens of Zimbabwean journalists driven out of the country by police harassment and anti-media laws.

Some of the journalists have set up radio stations, online and print newspapers from South Africa, Europe and the United States, most of them critical of President Robert Mugabe’s government.

At home, the Zimbabwe government is accused of leading violent attacks and arresting opponents, but has not been known to attempt to deploy the same methods against exiled citizens.

But that will not stop Zimbabwean human rights activists and other exiles in South Africa, estimated at three million, from worrying about their security. Molokele says to point the finger at Zimbabwe’s security forces over the attack on Mutsakani would be an alarmist step.

He said: “In Johannesburg if you drive at night you attract the attention of the wrong people.
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