Police on Tuesday took fingerprints of 25 NewsDay staffers as the net widens on investigations to ascertain the culprits who broke into the popular newspaper’s newsroom situated on the third floor at 1 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue in Harare and got away with Editor Brian Mangwende’s laptop and hard drives for senior editorial staff.
Three police officers from the CID Stores took fingerprints as part of their probe to unearth what exactly transpired.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) chairman Godfrey Majonga condemned the burglary, describing it as an act of thuggerry. “ZMC was greatly saddened to learn of the burglary at NewsDay offices where computer hard drives were stolen. ZMC abhors that act of thuggerry which is against Press freedom,” he said.
Last week, Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu condemned the action by the yet unknown criminals. Shamu’s deputy, Murisi Zwizwai, said it was also saddening that police yesterday visited NewsDay to take fingerprints of the workers at the popular daily newspaper saying it was tantamount to investigating victims.
“It is absurd and unprecedented when a complainant in a housebreaking case is requested to provide fingerprints including those of his wife, children, gardener, maid and ailing father-in-law.
“This is a classical case of persecution of the victim, in this case, NewsDay,” he said.
The raid on the NewsDay premises was the talking point at most gatherings to commemorate World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday with media activists saying it was against the spirit of democracy and Press freedom.
Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights secretary-general Dumisani Muleya said although there had been a significant improvement in local media since the advent of the inclusive government, journalists were still concerned about the government’s reluctance to open the airwaves.
“We must give credit to the inclusive government in ensuring that the print media has been opened up as evidenced by the licensing of various publications,” Muleya said.
“However, we remain greatly concerned about the airwaves which need to be opened up to allow for more players. We are also concerned about the break-in at NewsDay because it is an affront to media freedom.”