The editor and publisher of the independent Zimbabwean daily newspaper Newsday said Wednesday that they will not be daunted by the theft of a laptop and 10 hard drives with critical data from the premises of the recently launched paper earlier this week.
The laptop was stolen and the hard drives were stripped from the 10 personal computers by parties unknown who broke into Newsday's offices Monday night.
Publisher Raphael Khumalo, chief executive of Alpha Media Holdings, said the equipment was not only worth thousands of dollars but contained much vital information.
Khumalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the paper has replaced some of the gear to resume operations, but was deeply troubled by the theft which appeared to be targeting Zimbabwe's still-vulnerable free press.
He said the theft was meant to have a negative psychological impact on Newsday staff.
“It’s coming a few days away from World Press Freedom Day celebrations," Khumalo said. "That again does not put Zimbabwe in good light. It is going to be seen as a fight against the independence of the media.”
Newsday Editor Brian Mangwende said the break-in was a calculated crime intended to demoralize staff and paralyze the paper’s operations. But he told reporter Sandra Nyaira that although his team was disheartened it was not deterred from its mission.
“This is a calculated act of criminality designed to paralyze the operations of the country’s fastest-growing newspaper whose impact on the market has been felt through the length and breadth of the country," Mangwende said.
“The thieves knew exactly what they wanted targeting my laptop and vandalizing computers of senior editors to render incapable production of the paper.”
Mangwende said the attack was a serious blow at press freedom.
“We will not be deterred by these criminals who are not merely targeting the property of Newsday, but freedom of the media," Mangwende said.
We hope the police will do all they can to unmask whoever did this," said Mangwende, who said police had been "very cooperative," taking photos and fingerprints.