The Standard Editor Nevanji Madanhire, arrested Tuesday, appeared in court Wednesday and was released after the state consented to bail.
The state sought to have Madanhire given stringent bail conditions including paying bail of $200 and reporting once every Friday to CID Law and Order Section but the court threw out the reporting condition and slashed the bail deposit by half.
Magistrate Donald Ndirowei released Madanhire on $100 bail and ordered him to reside at his given address and not to interfere with the state witnesses.
Earlier, Madanhire’s lawyer, Chris Mhike, made an application seeking an investigation into why his client had been detained in the first place.
Mhike said police had no justification to detain the editor overnight after he had voluntarily surrendered himself to the police.
The court granted the application and ordered the police to write a report to the court explaining their action.
Mhike told the court that upon getting information that the police wanted to interview him, Madanhire handed himself over at Harare Central Police Station.
Curiously, he said, the police chose to detain him.
“I personally went with my client to the police after receiving a report and my request to have my client released by the police fell on deaf ears,” Mhike said. “I implore the court to make it clear to the police that it is not always necessary all the time to arrest and detain law abiding citizens. My client is one such law abiding citizen of Zimbabwe.”
“In recent months, the media has been subjected to unprecedented harassment, and my client is a journalist who falls into the same category.
“What it therefore means is that what happens in Zimbabwe should not be publicised by the media.” Mhike complained.
Mhike said he feared the country was being drawn back to the days where law abiding citizens, especially journalists, were being detained in an effort to suppress freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“Media forms part of the society and police should be informed of that. This onslaught against journalists should be brought to an end,” Mhike said.
Nevanji is being charged for allegedly publishing and communicating false information prejudicial to the state.
According to the state outline, Nevanji is alleged to have published a report entitled Police Examinations Cancelled in Standard issue of 14-20 November.
The police allege that the report contained falsehoods.
Madanhire’s arrest comes barely a week after Nqobani Ndlovu, a Bulawayo-based Standard journalist, was charged under the same Act and spent 10 days in state custody, some of them at Khami remand prison.
Ndlovu was released after the High Court dismissed an appeal by the state seeking to challenge the granting of $100 bail by a Bulawayo magistrate after having invoked section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which means he had to spend seven more days behind bars while the state appealed.