Court orders police to return journalists’ camera, pay legal costs

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By Court Reporter

HARARE High Court Judge Benjamin Chikowero Wednesday ordered police to pay legal costs incurred by two Mail and Telegraph journalists who had challenged the seizure of their camera by some law enforcement agents.

In his ruling, Justice Chikowero said the conduct of the police was unlawful while also ordering the return of the camera.

The journalists had their camera seized by police while they were interviewing MDC protestors in December last year.

They went to court seeking an order declaring the police conduct unlawful.

“The order is hereby granted in favour of the applicant and the respondent is to pay legal costs in full,” ruled Chikowero.

The reporters, Panashe Makufa and Hubert Sithole, had, through their lawyers, filed an urgent chamber application on December 24, 2018 under Jagacom Media and Technology (Pvt) ltd t/a Mail and Telegraph, seeking the release of the grabbed camera.

They cited Police Commissioner General, Godwin Matanga and Officer-In-Charge Harare Central Police as respondents.

High Court judge, Munangati-Manongwa granted an interim relief in favour of the media house, ordering the police to surrender the despoiled camera but the matter remained pending in terms of the final order sought.

According to a founding affidavit which was filed along with the application, journalist Makufa said on the day in question, he was in the company of Sithole when they were deployed to interview a group of MDC supporters who had staged a protest on the day.

The two carried out the interview outside Harare Central Police Station where the protestors had just lodged a report for assault and in the process, he was taking photographs and video footage as the interview progressed.

According to court papers, a police officer clad in uniform approached them and started beating them up with baton sticks. He went on to seize the camera.