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Zimbabwe Police Charge Two Newspaper Journalists With Theft, Defamation

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi were charged with stealing documents from an insurance firm and defaming its owner, Munyaradzi Kereke, an adviser to RBZ Governor Gideon Gono

Zimbabwean police on Tuesday arrested two journalists from the Standard newspaper over a story published in the weekly's November 6 edition alleging a health insurance company owned by a government bureaucrat faced imminent collapse.

Editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi were charged with stealing documents from the insurance firm and criminally defaming its owner, Munyaradzi Kereke, an adviser to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono.

The story by Matshazi said Kereke’s Green Card Medical Society was facing imminent collapse due to financial difficulties. Kereke disputed the account and complained to police who raided the Standard offices on Friday, November 11.

The two journalists were detained overnight and were appear in court Wednesday.

Chief Executive Raphael Khumalo of Alpha Media Holdings, publisher of the Standard newspaper, condemned the arrests.

"What we are seeing is a clear act of harassment of our journalists by the police who are being used by some influential officials in the government," Khumalo said.

This was Madanhire's third brush with the law in the past year.

In November 2010 he was detained after publishing a story saying retired police officers and liberation war veterans were being recruited to fill vacant positions in the Zimbabwe Republic Police national force to direct operations during elections.

The story was written by Bulawayo-based Standard reporter Nqobani Ndlovu, who spent close to a month in jail before being freed by a High Court judge.

Madanhire was arrested again in June with another Standard reporter in connection with a story carried by the weekly regarding the arrest of Minister of State Jameson Timba, attached to the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

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