Daily News editor slams ‘intimidation’ after arrest

October 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

By Alex Bell

The editor of the Daily News newspaper in Zimbabwe has slammed what he calls
deliberate intimidation by some “hardliners” in the country, after he and a
colleague were arrested on Monday.

Stanley Gama and his deputy Chris Goko were both arrested and detained after
being called in by Harare police officers, and told they were to be charged
with criminal defamation. The charges stem from a story the newspaper had
published, claiming the alleged ‘disappearance’ of businessman Munyaradzi
Kereke’s family was a hoax.

The two spent four hours at a Harare police station and were released after
signing warned and cautioned statements, in which they denied Kereke’s
criminal defamation charges.

The article, sourced from the New Zimbabwe website, said that Kereke’s
recent report on his missing family was designed to mislead the public and
support his claims that his life is in danger. Kereke says the article is
based on falsehoods and could jeopardise the hunt for his wife, Joseline,
and their four- year old daughter Tashinga.

Kereke has also accused the Daily News of defamation in a separate case,
regarding the newspaper’s publication of a series of articles linking him to
the rape of a minor two years ago.

Daily News Editor Gama told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that he believes the
arrest Monday is linked to this rape case.

“Kereke phoned us and intimidated us last week….we believe it (the arrest)
is a way of intimidating us to stop publishing the stories about the rape.
But our motto is ‘tell it like it is’ and we’re not going to stop reporting
on this,” Gama said.

Gama meanwhile said that the arrest highlights how a “clique of hardliners”
with powerful connections in Zimbabwe still pose a threat to the safety of
independent journalists. He said it is “dangerous” dealing with this

“Journalists still live in fear. They still face intimidation. These people
use their connections any time and they can use it against you at anytime,”
Gama said.

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe also criticised the arrest of the
two editors, calling it “a perpetuation of the harassment of journalists in
the country, and is therefore undemocratic and inimical to freedom of

Media watchdog group MISA Zimbabwe echoed these concerns, saying the arrests
“proves the criminalisation of journalism in Zimbabwe under the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform)

Act and vindicates MISA-Zimbabwe’s strident calls for the repealing of the
law which infringes on media freedom.”


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