Police arrest French journalist


French diplomats in Harare last week rescued a freelance journalist from their country, who had been arrested by security agents on charges he strayed into President Robert Mugabe’s residence.
The journalist was charged with operating without accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the media regulatory authority.
He was identified only as William based in South Africa. William was arrested last Thursday and released the following day after the intervention of diplomats from the French Embassy.
William was travelling along 7th Street, the road that passes by President Mugabe’s residence when the incident occurred.
The road linking to the presidential residence is closed, for security reasons, between 6 pm and 6am every day.
Wayne Bvudzijena, the police national spokesperson, yesterday said although he was not privy to the circumstances that led to the journalist’s arrest, it was a criminal offence to stray into President Mugabe’s residence.
However, security agents said the French national was lucky not to have been shot at while driving towards the security zone.
Dietmar Petrauch, the deputy head of mission at the French Embassy said they rescued the journalist just as they would have done for any other French national in such a predicament.
“We rescued him as we could have done to any French citizen,” Petrauch said yesterday. “He was about to go into Borrowdale Road where it is forbidden at that time.”
He said the journalist wanted to pass through the “front of the presidential home because he did not see it was forbidden.”
“They took him to the police,” he said. “It was just an error.”
Petrauch said the journalist was still to be accredited when he was arrested. William is expected to leave Zimbabwe soon.
Several journalists have in the past been arrested for attempting to gather news in Zimbabwe without accreditation.
Others have been arrested despite having been cleared by authorities.