Unknown criminals broke into the offices of NewsDay in Harare on Monday night and stole a laptop belonging to the paper’s editor, Brian Mangwende, hard-drives and other components from computers used by senior editorial staff at the country’s fastest growing independent daily.
The stolen hard-drives contained vital information and data.
The value of the stolen property runs into thousands of dollars.
The Editor’s office was broken into and newsroom computers vandalised. Mangwende writes the much followed weekly column From the Editor’s Bottom Drawer which is critical of political injustices and social ills.
Staffers whose computers were wrecked include the assistant editor, Wisdom Mdzungairi, political editor Kelvin Jakachira, sports editor Wellington Toni, chief reporter Owen Gagare and chief business reporter Mernat Mafirakurewa.
The thieves also targeted computers used by senior parliamentary reporter Veneranda Langa, business reporter Victoria Mtomba and sub editors Sam Mutsvanga and Lillian Chitare.
Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chief executive Raphael Khumalo said: “It’s devastating. That kind of thing should not happen.”
He said the cost of replacing the computers was a drawback coming at a time the daily paper was making a serious impact on the market.
Khumalo said the break-in and theft was aimed at creating a negative psychological effect in the paper’s staffers.
“It’s coming a few days away from World Press Freedom Day celebrations. That again does not put Zimbabwe in good light. It is going to be seen as a fight against the independence of the media.”
Khumalo said this was likely to have an effect on operations.
“Taking out 11 computers in one day is not a small thing.”
Khumalo, however, said he was pleased with the reaction and conduct of the police towards the attack on NewsDay.
“On the plus side, we want to commend the police for acting professionally. They were prompt when we made a report.”
Mangwende said: “This is a calculated act of criminality designed to paralyse 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.
“The thieves knew what they were doing and what they wanted targeting my laptop and vandalising computers of senior editors to render incapable production of the paper.”
Mangwende said the attack on NewsDay by the criminals was a serious blow on Press freedom.
He said his team was not deterred by the attacks and was raring to take any challenges head-on.
“We will not be deterred by these criminals who are not merely targeting the property of NewsDay, but freedom of the media. We hope the police will bring to book the culprits whoever they are,” he said.