Journalists Chikowore, Takawira Acquitted For Breaching Covid-19 Rules

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HARARE – A Zimbabwean court on Thursday acquitted two journalists who were arrested for an alleged COVID violation while covering the abduction of an opposition lawmaker and two-party activists.

“Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira have been acquitted by the Mbare magistrate Kudzai Hove of charges of breaching coronavirus regulations relating to social distancing,” Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda told journalists.

Chikowore and Takawira, who write for the online media 263Chat, were arrested and charged in May and held for four days before being released after they paid bail of 500 Zimbabwean dollars ($60) each.

They were accused of not keeping an adequate distance between themselves and those they interviewed and arrested by a police officer guarding the hospital where the interviews took place.

An opposition lawmaker and two-party activists had been admitted after they were abducted at a police roadblock and dumped at a shopping centre after being assaulted by unidentified assailants.

The government in Zimbabwe listed journalism among essential services during the lockdown that began on 30 March, but many journalists have been harassed and jailed since then.