By Moses Matenga/Desmond Chingarande
Two journalists arrested for trying to interview three hospitalised MDC Alliance activists will spend at least four nights in remand prison after they were denied bail yesterday.
Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira were arrested at a private health facility on Friday after they visited Harare West MP Joana Mamombe and fellow MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
Chikore and Takawira appeared before Mbare magistrate Manase Musiiwa, charged with disobeying an order by a police officer.
Chikowore was represented by Tonderai Bhatasara, while Takawira was represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe, who argued that the law used to charge the duo had nothing to do with their activities at the health facility.
Saurombe said police charged the journalists using a law to do with people, who fail to obey police officers at airports or border posts.
“The state did call the investigation officer, who unfortunately did not submit any reasons why they should be denied bail and after we made that application, the presiding officer decided that he would make a ruling on the 26th of May, that is on Tuesday,” Saurombe, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told journalists after the court proceedings.
Prosecutors alleged the two went to a hospital in Harare where the three activists are hospitalised, intending to interview them, but were blocked by police officers on duty.
The two scribes, however, allegedly found their way into the hospital wards and refused to follow an order by the police for them to leave, as they argued they were doing their work.
Police have been condemned for arresting the journalists, with MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti saying it was a continuation of government’s violation of human rights.
“The regime is at it again,” Biti said.
“Hardly a day passes without gross violation of human rights. The economy has collapsed, poverty engulfs citizens, but all the energy is directed at emasculating the citizen. The arrest of journalists doing their work is unlawful and ridiculous.”
Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova were found in Bindura after they went missing for two days following their alleged abduction from Harare Central Police Station, where they had been arrested for their involvement in a demonstration over hunger in the country.
After initially confirming their arrest to two newspapers, police are now denying ever arresting the women.
The abduction and sexual violation of the women has been condemned by prominent people from across the world.