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Zimbabwe Police Arrest Four Journalists In Widening Media Crackdown

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Police last month arrested two staff members of the Standard newspaper over an article about the arrest of Jameson Timba, an aide to Prime Minister Tsvangirai, for alleged disrespect to President Mugabe

Zimbabwean police in the town of Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North, on Friday arrested four Bulawayo journalists who were covering the eviction of a senior police officer fired earlier in the week for allegedly playing music associated with the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change on his mobile phone.

The reporters were detained for more than four hours and released late in the evening without any charges brought against them.

The accredited journalists were Pindai Dube and Oscar Nkala of The Daily News, Nqobani Ndlovu of the weekly Standard and freelance Pamenus Tuso.

Ndlovu's arrest wasn't his first: he spent a month in Bulawayo's Khami prison last November after he reported about the recruitment of retired police officers and war veterans to fill in vacant posts in the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The four were covering the eviction of Assistant Inspector Tedious Chisango, accused of being an MDC loyalist. They told VOA that they were seized as they snapped pictures and sought an interview with Chisango at his home.

Police last month arrested two staff members of the Standard newspaper in connection with an article about the arrest of minister Jameson Timba, an aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was accused of disrespecting President Robert Mugabe.

Press advocates see a familiar repressive trend re-emerging.

Chairman Njabulo Ncube of the Media Institute of Southern Africa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the detention of the four accredited journalists in Matabeleland was unacceptable.

The MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube condemned the arrests.

"We are disturbed that the continued harassment reflects badly on the image of our country, our police force and are a setback to the struggle for a just and a fair Zimbabwe," the party statement said.

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