People wait to fetch water from a row of communal taps in a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Reuters
People wait to fetch water from a row of communal taps in a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Reuters

Reporters in Zimbabwe arrested for contravening coronavirus regulations

By dpa Time of article published May 24, 2020

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Harare - Two journalists have been arrested in Zimbabwe on suspicion of contravening coronavirus regulations, a police spokesman said on Sunday. 

The two journalists also refused to obey a police officer's order, spokesman Paul Nyathi said. Both were charged in court on Saturday and now are being held in custody until their bail hearing on Tuesday.   

Human rights organizations strongly condemned the arrests and called for the journalists' release. 

"The Zimbabwe authorities should immediately set free the two journalists and drop the spurious charges of violating Covid-19 regulations that they are facing," said Dewa Mavhinga, who heads Human Rights Watch in South Africa.

"The two were arrested in the course of doing their duties which are classified as essential services under the Covid-19 regulations, this amounts to muzzling of the media and severely undermines attempts by Zimbabwe to present itself as a country respectful of the rule of law and human rights," Mavhinga said. 

The journalists were arrested in Harare on Friday as they sought to interview three members of the opposition in hospital who had allegedly been abducted, according to the charge sheet. 

After consulting with the hospital, police decided not to let the journalists into the hospital in accordance with the coronavirus regulations.

The journalists are accused of entering the next day through a back door and then failing to keep to the social distancing regulations, according to the charge sheet.

The journalists had permission from the victims and the hospital to enter and ask questions, said Paidamoyo Saurombe, the journalists' lawyer. 

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