Standard Editor Nevanji Madanhire, senior reporter Patience Nyangove and company representative Loud Ramakgapola were on Wednesday arrested over the newspaper’s lead story in this week’s edition headed “MDC-T fears for missing Timba’s life”.
Jameson Timba, who is the Minister of State in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, was detained over the weekend, but has since been released following a High Court order to that effect.
Company lawyer Linda Cook said the police charged Madanhire, Nyangove and Ramakgapola, with criminal defamation under Section 96 of the Criminal Code and with the publication of false statements prejudicial to the State which undermine public confidence in a law enforcement agent under Section 31 (A) (iii).
Cook said the allegation is that it was falsely reported Timba was arrested by police officers who included “the notorious Chrispen Makedenge” when it is alleged that Makedenge was not present and involved in the arrest.
By last night, Nyangove and Ramakgapola had been released, but Madanhire was detained for the night and there was a suggestion he could be moved to Rhodesville Police Station.
Nyangove and Ramakgapola have been told to return to the Law and Order Section on Thursday morning at which time they will ascertain what further steps will be taken.
Alpha Media Holdings Chief Executive Officer Raphael Khumalo condemned the arrests.
“It’s horrible, it should not happen,” he said.
“There is absolutely no justification whatsoever. What makes it so sad is that the police are acting on a personal issue. Are they acting on behalf of the officer concerned or are they acting on a national cause? If the officer has been defamed, he should follow the laws and sue.”
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said his organisation was “disappointed, but not surprised”.
“These are strategic blunders and we believe that if the authorities have any problem they should approach either of the two media councils in the country, the Voluntary Media Council or the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which some senior government and Zanu PF officials have done,” Dongozi said.