15 March 1999

Alert

Court clears minister of contempt charges; spares newspaper costs


Incident details

Moven Mahachi

other

other


(MISA/IFEX) - On 12 March 1999, the Zimbabwean High Court cleared
Defence
Minister Moven Mahachi of contempt of court charges following an
application
in this
regard brought by the "Standard" newspaper. However, the court found
that
his secretary, Job Whabira, was guilty of ignoring the court and
subsequently ordered the ministry to pay the legal fees the paper
incurred
while trying to secure the release of two journalists who were detained
at
the time.





**Updates IFEX alerts of 24 February, 12 February, 11 February, 10
February,
9 February, 3 February, 29 January, 27 January, 25 January, 22 January,
21
January, 18 January, 15 January and 13 January 1999**


The court said it accepted the defence argument that Mahachi was out of
the
country when the orders had been served and that Whabira had no powers
to
effect them. However, it said Whabira, who allegedly told the paper at
the
time that the army would not obey court orders and would free the
journalists at its own pace, acted wrongly. The matter has been referred
to
the Attorney-General, who may institute a criminal investigation and
formally charge Whabira with contempt.


Background Information


The two journalists from the "Standard," Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto,
are
currently facing charges of publishing false information as a result of
an
article published in their paper on 10 January alleging a coup plot in
Zimbabwe. Chavunduka was arrested by the military on 12 January, and
Choto
was arrested by police on 19 January, and then handed over to the
military
for interrogation. Before their release on bail on 21 January, the
newspaper
secured at least three High Court orders demanding their release, but
they
were all ignored.


Both men sustained serious injuries as a result of torture suffered at
the
hands of military police during their illegal detention. On 2 March, the
newspaper successfully defeated an appeal by the state against the
altering
of the bail conditions of the two journalists to allow them to leave
Zimbabwe to receive medical treatment in the United Kingdom (U.K.). They
are
currently in the U.K. receiving treatment. They are expected back before
the
end of March for the commencement of their trial.









Source

Media Institute of Southern Africa
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Private Bag 13386
Windhoek
Namibia
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
Zimbabwe
 
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.

  • ZIMBABWE TRANSPARENCY ASSESSMENT 2018

    The Citizens' Analysis of Government Openness