Chiredzi-based freelance journalist Patrick Chitongo has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment by magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga for publishing an unregistered newspaper, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) — Zimbabwe said yesterday in an alert.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Quoting the latest issue of The Mirror newspaper based in Masvingo, Misa said Chitongo was jointly charged with Tafadzwa Mhlanga, Givemore Kadzwida and Courage Bandera.
The four stood accused of collaborating to publish a newspaper that was not registered with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), with a view to selling it.
“They proceeded to publish three issues of the unregistered newspaper titled The Southern Mirror,” the media advocacy group said.
The State, led by Chiedza Muhwandavaka, argued that this was in contravention of Section 72(1) the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which states that: “No person shall carry on or operate a mass media service without a valid registration certificate.”
Chitongo’s co-accused persons were subsequently acquitted after it was established that they were students who did not play any role in the publication of the newspaper.
Chitongo, who was represented by Martin Mureri of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights unsuccessfully argued that the published newspaper was just a dummy meant to be presented to ZMC for the purposes of registration.
Chitongo will serve an effective 8 months’ imprisonment following the suspension of four months of the sentence on condition that he does not commit a similar offence in the next five years.