21 January 1999


Journalists released on bail

Incident details

Mark Chavunduka,Ray Choto



(MISA/IFEX) - The editor of the "Standard" newspaper, Mark Chavunduka, along
with journalist Ray Choto have been released on bail. The two were released
on 21
January 1999 shortly after appearing in the High Court in Harare on charges
under Section 50 (2) of the Law and Order Maintenance Act of 1960. At this
stage it is not known for how much their bail had been set, nor when they
are expected to appear in court again.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 21 January, 18 January, 15 January and 13 January

Meanwhile, reports from the High Court say that Chavunduka had been tortured
during his detention. However, the extent of this torture is not clear. MISA
expects to have more details later.

Background Information

Chavunduka was detained by the Zimbabwean military on 12 January, two days
after the "Standard" published a story alleging that about twenty three
soldiers had been detained for attempting to overthrow the government of
Robert Mugabe. During his incarceration, Chavunduka was denied access to
legal representation, family and friends.

On 14 January, the Zimbabwean High Court ordered the government to release
Chavunduka arguing that his detention was unlawful. The government
(military) however refused to abide by the court order saying civilian
courts have no jurisdiction over military camps where Chavunduka was being
held. A second order was issued by the High Court, demanding that the
minister of defence produces Chavunduka before 22:00 hours (local time) on
18 January. Again the military defied this and instead pretended it would be
handing Chavunduka over to the police to be charged under a civil process.

Choto was arrested on 19 January after police shrewdly persuaded the
newspaper's lawyers to convince Choto to come out of hiding. The lawyers
were led to believe that both journalists would be charged under the
(civilian) Law and Order Act, that they would have access to their lawyers
and families and that they would be able to apply for bail.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • calling for the dropping of charges against the two journalists
  • pointing out that the charges against the two journalists are in
    of the right to freedom of expression as contained in Article 19 of the
    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the
    African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, of which Zimbabwe is a

    Appeals To

    His Excellency President Robert Mugabe
    Office of the President
    Causeway, Harare
    Fax: +263 4 708 557

    Mr Moven Mahachi
    Zimbabwe Minister of Defence
    Fax: +263 4 796 762

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Media Institute of Southern Africa
    21 Johann Albrecht Street
    Private Bag 13386
    misaalerts (@) gmail.com
    Fax:+264 61 248016

    More on this case

    "Standard" journalists' trial date set 15 March 2000 Tortured journalists' trial deferred 7 January 2000 Court clears minister of contempt charges; spares newspaper costs 15 March 1999 Court rules for journalists to seek medical treatment, state appeals 24 February 1999 IFJ condemns Zimbabwe for arrests and torture 12 February 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1999 Medical report details torture of two journalists 10 February 1999 Human Rights Watch protests new crackdown on Zimbabwe's independent media 10 February 1999 RSF protests deteriorating press freedom situation 9 February 1999 Three more journalists arrested 8 February 1999 ARTICLE 19 to support journalists' legal bid 3 February 1999 Newspaper director released unconditionally; government promises to crack down on bad press against military 27 January 1999 Police blockade peaceful protest 27 January 1999 Newspaper's managing editor appears in court 27 January 1999 NDIMA protests detention of journalist 25 January 1999 Fears for newspaper director high 25 January 1999 Journalists sent for full medical check-up amid disclosure of torture ordeal; further attacks on journalists; protest held in Namibia 22 January 1999 Journalists released on bail 21 January 1999 Detained journalists appear in court 21 January 1999 MISA concerned for health and well-being of detained journalists 21 January 1999 Journalists tortured while in custody 21 January 1999 WAN protests continued illegal detention of journalist 21 January 1999 Zimbabwean defence ministry continues to detain journalist 18 January 1999 Journalist still detained 15 January 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 Editor arrested 13 January 1999
    More from Zimbabwe
    • MISA Zimbabwe State of the Media Report 2018

      In his inauguration speech on 24 November 2017 following Mugabe’s ouster, President Mnangagwa, said he would strengthen and ensure the pillars of democracy are respected in Zimbabwe. This raised hope that he would move with speed and implement outstanding socio-economic and political reforms ahead of the 2018 elections. It is common cause that the elections came without implementation of the envisaged reforms.

    • MISA Annual Report 2018

      The MISA Annual report for 2018 focuses on the lobby and advocacy work MISA carried out on critical issues throughout 2018.


      The Citizens' Analysis of Government Openness