Police on Wednesday arrested Nqobani Ndlovu, a journalist with The Standard over a story alleging that the force was recruiting war veterans to take over senior posts ahead of next year’s elections.
The police were also said to be looking for the paper’s editor Nevanji Madanhire over the story published last Sunday.
Ndlovu, who handed himself to the police after numerous raids on the Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) office located a few meters from the Bulawayo Central Police Station is accused of contravening Section 96 of the Criminal Law and Codification Act.
He is also being charged with “publishing a defamatory statement against police Commissioner- General Augustine Chihuri and the police force in general.”
His lawyer, Josphat Tshuma of Webb, Low and Barry confirmed Ndlovu’s detention.
“I can confirm that Ndlovu has been detained at Central Police Station and they have charged him with contravening Section 96 of the Criminal Law and Codification Act,” he said.
“Ndlovu was asked to reveal his sources of which he said it was unethical for him as a journalist to disclose his sources.”
Tshuma said the police said they were still carrying out further investigations as they still wanted to question Madanhire.
“As far as I know, all necessary documentation has been done to enable him to appear in court and be granted bail.
“However, I do not think that is their intention,” he said.
“They can choose to detain him for 48 hours before appearing in court, as is the law, but all this is unwarranted.”
On Tuesday, the detectives temporarily detained AMH Bureau Chief Dumisani Sibanda over the same story. Sibanda was released without any charge.
The following morning six detectives stormed the AMH offices looking for Ndlovu.
They accused people in the office of hiding him and refused to wait in the boardroom, preferring to sit at the reception so that they could “see people entering the offices.”
Raphael Khumalo, the AMH CEO said the police were trying to muzzle the group’s publications because they have reported on police brutality and exposed human rights abuses.
“They are trying to harass and threaten our reporters with force so that in future should there be cases of police brutality they will be afraid to report them and the police will go about acting outside the law, killing and abusing citizens with the press turning a blind eye,” he said.
AMH also publishes NewsDay and the Zimbabwe Independent.