By Staff Reporter
A freelance journalist was on Saturday beaten up by police officers and forced to delete his footage in the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana where he was covering their lockdown enforcement.
An alert to Nehanda Radio from the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe) says that Panashe Makufa “was beaten up by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).”
The incident took place around 5pm with Makufa telling MISA he was taking pictures of a police operation to disperse people in Kuwadzana as part of their enforcement of the national lockdown.
“It has come to our attention that when the police approached him, Makufa produced his accreditation card and it was disregarded as having expired.
“The four police officers also instructed Makufa to get into their police vehicle where he was assaulted by two officers and forced to delete pictures before being dropped off at Kuwadzana 2 shops.”
A lawyer for MISA is now assisting Makufa on “legal steps to take in response to the assault and loss of the entire day’s worth of footage” and “with access to medical attention.”
MISA has reiterated its call that police officers should cooperate with journalists and comply with the directives of the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Information Ministry to the effect that 2019 accreditation cards are still valid until the ZMC issues the new 2020 cards.
MISA said that by “continuously arresting, harassing, assaulting or attacking journalists who are conducting their lawful professional duties, the police are infringing not only on the constitutionally guaranteed right to media freedom but also on citizens’ right to access to information.”
“The law enforcement arm of the government cannot continue undermining the constitution on a technicality, which has been communicated for such a long time.
MISA said the government had to “uphold the constitution of the republic through protecting” journalists especially during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Monday the police again arrested a senior journalist, Kudzanai Musengi in the Gweru Central Business District for allegedly practising without valid accreditation.
MISA Zimbabwe at the time urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to allow journalists to cover the coronavirus situation in the country without intimidation. Nehanda Radio