Journalists arrested for investigating pollution from Chiadzwa

March 15, 2012 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

By Tererai Karimakwenda

Last Friday four Zimbabwean journalists were arrested in Manicaland
Province, while investigating river pollution believed to have been caused
by the diamond mining companies operating in the Chiadzwa area.

No charges were immediately brought against the four journalists Sidney
Saize, Andrew Mambondiani, Chengetai Murimwa and Admire Matende, who are
based in Mutare. But Saize says they did see evidence of polluted water and
got testimonies from local villagers whose livestock was affected.

The journalists were released the same day into the custody of their lawyer
David Tandiri, and ordered to report to the Law and Order section at Mutare
police station over the weekend. No charges were determined by the police
until Monday.

Sidney Saize told SW Radio Africa that they were finally charged for being a
“criminal nuisance”, with police saying they would proceed by way of
summons. “They did not want to let us go without any charges so they were
arm-twisting us to accept a lighter offence,” Saize explained.

“We denied this charge because any Zimbabwean can be arrested of criminal
nuisance. No matter what you are doing it can be considered a nuisance by
the next person,” Saize complained.

Saize said they went to the Chiadzwa area to establish the levels of
pollution in the Save and Odzi rivers, alleged to be the result of diamond
extraction by several companies mining there. These rivers are important as
they are the only source of clean water for the local villagers.

“Along some of the river beds we could see carcasses of dead animals, cows,
goats, and the villagers attributed these deaths to be polluted water along
the Save and Odzi River”, Saize said. He added that many children had skin
rashes, which the parents alleged was the result of bathing in polluted
water.

What the journalists witnessed confirms allegations previously made by civil
society groups, who called for a ban on the sale of stones from Chiadzwa
after many local villagers were killed by government troops. The
internationally monitoring group, the Kimberley Process (KP),
controversially approved the sale of Chiadzwa diamonds last year and civil
groups withdrew their membership from the KP in protest, saying the abuses
have continued.

The arrest of the journalists comes at a time when the number of attacks on
independent media have increased. ZANU PF thugs have illegally banned
circulation of the Daily News in some areas of Mashonaland, war vets have
threatened NewsDay and there have been ongoing attacks on newspaper vendors.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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