JOURNALISTS Frank Chikowore (39) and Samuel Takawira (29), arrested Friday for conducting interviews with three MDC Alliance activists who are hospitalised at Parktown Hospital in Harare, will spend the entire weekend behind bars after their case was postponed to next Tuesday for bail determination.
By Mary Taruvinga
The two appeared before Mbare magistrate, Musiiwa facing a count of contravening Section 11 (b) of Statutory Instrument of 2020, Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment).
They are being accused of violating Covid-19 regulations through their visit to the hospital to do the interviews.
The scribes spent the night in police custody before appearing in court Saturday.
The state claims they failed to adhere to the regulations without sufficient cause.
Through lawyer, Paida Saurombe, they argued that journalism is not a crime since they are accredited journalists.
Media rights lobby, MISA Harare chairperson, Garikai Chaunza condemned the police actions also arguing journalism is not a crime.
“On behalf of MISA, we condemn the arrest of the two journalists and we see it as a direct attack on journalists who are accredited to do their work. We fear this is a repetition of the past where journalists were viewed as enemies of the state. As far as we are concerned they did not commit any crime and their arrest was unlawful,” Chaunza said.
According to the state, the two on May 21 went to the hospital with the intention to interview MDC Alliance Harare West legislator Joanna Mamombe, activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
They were denied access in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations, said the state.
However, it is further alleged, the two again sneaked into the hospital the following day without being observed.
“On the 22nd of May 2020 at about 08:00 hrs the two accused persons again proceeded to Parktown Private Hospital in Waterfalls. The two accused persons knowing that it was not time for visiting patients and that an order has been previously given by the police for them not to enter the said hospital ward without reference to the acting hospital administrator, Mr Stewart Ephraim, unlawfully used the hospital back entrance ordinarily reserved for hospital staff to avoid detection and sneaked into the hospital High Dependency Unit (HDU) ward,” alleged prosecutor Terrence Mukuze.
It is alleged that one Detective Makore who was on duty guarding the trio noticed them and followed them.
He allegedly found out that they were not observing social distancing among themselves and also with the admitted patients.