The Standard Editor, Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi who were arrested and detained on Tuesday were on Wednesday freed on $100 bail each.
The State then attempted to cause a media blackout on the court proceedings but Harare magistrate Sandra Mupindu threw out the application which the Attorney General’s office sought to be included as one of the bail conditions.
Lawyers representing the journalists argued granting such an application would be tantamount to muzzling the press and besides, the application had been made at the wrong platform.
Madanhire are being charged with criminal defamation and theft of documents, charges emanating from the publication of a story by The Standard about Munyaradzi Kereke’s medical aid company, Green Card, allegedly facing possible collapse.
AG’s representative, Tapiwa Kasema, indicated it would not be in the best interest of Kereke, if the matter, in which the latter alleges the journalists seriously caused damage to both his reputation and his company, Green Card Medical Aid Society, continued to receive coverage.
Kasema wanted the press barred from publishing anything to do with the criminal defamation charge.
The magistrate dismissed the State’s application concurring with the defence and said: “The issue of publication has not been put as a condition because that is the issue of the Civil Courts that deals with interdicts.”
According to the State allegations, on November 4, the acting chief executive officer of the Green Card Medical Aid Society, Simon Tapfumaneyi, left a document in a file on his desk as he prepared to hold a meeting with Kereke.
It is alleged on the same day Madanhire and Matshazi stole the file and went away.
On the following day, it is alleged; Matshazi approached Kereke and delivered some questions to him after indicating he had obtained them from a document stolen from his office.
It is alleged after Matshazi had been given answers to his questions, he went on, in the company of Madanhire, to write a story which was later publicised in the issue of The Standard of November 6 to 12 headlined “Kereke’s Medical Aid firm collapses”
The State alleges the duo publicised false information.
Madanhire and Matshazi were not asked to plead before they were released on bail.
As part of their bail conditions, they were ordered to surrender passports and reside at the addresses they supplied to police.