By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Thursday allegedly brought incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono to court very late, breaching a 48 hour constitutional requirement of bringing the accused person before the judiciary when he or she is arrested.
Chin’ono was arrested on Tuesday and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly tweeted that he had spoken with some members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) who told him that gold smuggler Henrietta Rushwaya was going to be granted bail.
Rushwaya, Mnangagwa’s relative and former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) boss was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport after she was caught attempting to smuggle 6.09kgs of gold to Dubai worth over USD$300 000.
But in what seemed embarrassing, Chin’ono was taken to the Anti-Corruption Section at the magistrate court yet this was a criminal case.
Fearless Chin’ono fumed saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa was persecuting him for exposing corruption and using the anti-corruption court “they can control” to punish “critics.”
“They arrested me for exposing the corruption between the gold smugglers and the NPA.
“They are persecuting us for doing our work as journalists.
“This is embarrassing, the government of Zimbabwe is abusing the anti-corruption court system to persecute critics. Why are you taking me to anti-corruption, are you not embarrassed. You have no shame.
“We have said time and time again to the citizens that Mnangagwa’s government is abusing the court system using the anti-corruption court to punish and persecute critics. Here we are. It’s a criminal case but I’m being taken to the anti-corruption where they can control the processes,”
His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa emotionally said, “there is no allegation of corruption so why are we here.”
The award winning journalist appeared before Harare regional magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa who remanded Chin’ono to Friday after Mtetwa submitted that the sitting of the court was illegal since her client was brought after 48 hour of arrest.
Gofa remanded the matter to tomorrow to give both state Prosecutor Audrey Chogumaira and Mtetwa enough time to submit arguments concerning the time Chin’ono was brought to court.
Speaking to the media soon after the adjournment of the court, Mtetwa said no charge had been issued against Chin’ono.
“We raised the issue that the court cannot entertain someone who is illegally before the court. She has remanded him into custody to tomorrow. No charge has been read to him,” she said.
Chin’ono is currently on bail after he was arrested on July 20 and charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption in government, spent 45 days at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released by the High Court.
The investigative journalist played a crucial role in exposing alleged corruption by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, the US $60 million Dax Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
He was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala who have since been released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
Ngarivhume and Sikhala attended court in solidarity with their fellow detainee. Nehanda Radio