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Daily News editors arrested

Three senior editors of the Daily News, Geoff Nyarota, William Saidi and John Gambanga were arrested together with reporter Sam Munyavi over a story that alleged that police vehicles had been used to assist people looting commercial farms in Chinhoyi.

The four were charged with violating a section of the Law and Order Maintenance Act.

The act provides criminal penalties for publishing false statements, rumours or reports that are likely to cause fear, alarm and despondency among the public.

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 01HARARE2429, ARREST OF DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE2429

2001-08-16 13:57

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

161357Z Aug 01

 

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED     PTO2249

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 02429 161400Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00   UTED-00

VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   NSAE-00 NSCE-00 TEST-00

USIE-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00 SAS-00     /002W

——————12F3CF 161401Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9482

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS HARARE 002429

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF (BELLAMY), AF/PF (SANDERS,

ROBERTSON, COX)

 

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KPAO PREL ZI PHUM

SUBJECT: ARREST OF DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

 

 

1.   THREE SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT “DAILY NEWS”

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 02429 161400Z

AND ONE REPORTER FROM THE PAPER WERE ARRESTED IN HARARE ON

AUGUST 15. THE FOUR WERE RELEASED ON BAIL ON THE EVENING

OF THE SAME DAY. THE FOUR ARE EDITOR IN CHIEF GEOFF

NYAROTA, DEPUTY EDITOR BILL SAIDI, NEWS EDITOR JOHN

GAMBANGA AND REPORTER SAM MUNYAVI. THE ARRESTS WERE IN

RESPONSE TO AN AUGUST 14 FRONT-PAGE STORY IN THE “DAILY

NEWS” THAT ALLEGED POLICE VEHICLES WERE USED TO ASSIST

PEOPLE LOOTING COMMERCIAL FARMS IN THE CHINOYI AREA.

 

2.   THE FOUR JOURNALISTS WERE INITIALLY CHARGED WITH

VIOLATING SECTIONS OF THE IAN SMITH-ERA “LAW AND ORDER

MAINTENANCE ACT” (LOMA). THAT ACT PROVIDES CRIMINAL

PENALTIES FOR PUBLISHING FALSE STATEMENTS, RUMORS OR

REPORTS THAT ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE “FEAR, ALARM OR

DESPONDENCY AMONG THE PUBLIC OR LIKELY TO DISTURB PUBLIC

PEACE.” ACCORDING TO THE PAPER’S LAWYER, THOSE CHARGES

WERE DROPPED LATE ON AUGUST 15 AND THE FOUR JOURNALISTS

HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH “CRIMINAL DEFAMATION” OF THE

ZIMBABWE REPUBLIC POLICE.

 

3.   NYAROTA WAS ARRESTED AT HIS HOME IN HARARE AT ABOUT

0100 ON THE MORNING OF AUGUST 15. POLICE OFFICIALS WAITED

ABOUT AN HOUR FOR NYAROTA TO CONFIRM THAT THEY WERE BONA

FIDE POLICE OFFICERS BEFORE TAKING HIM TO HARARE’S CENTRAL

POLICE STATION FOR QUESTIONING. SAIDI, GAMBANGA AND

MUNYAVI WERE ARRESTED AT THE “DAILY NEWS” OFFICES AROUND

1000 ON AUGUST 15. NONE OF THE FOUR WAS MISTREATED DURING

THEIR ARREST OR DETENTION. NO COURT DATE HAS BEEN SET TO

TRY THE CHARGES AGAINST THE FOUR “DAILY NEWS” JOURNALISTS.

 

4.   THIS ARREST IS THE THIRD TIME EDITOR NYAROTA HAS BEEN

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 02429 161400Z

ARRESTED IN 2001. THE PREVIOUS OCCASIONS WERE IN APRIL

(OVER A STORY ALLEGING THAT PRESIDENT MUGABE AND OTHER

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RECEIVED ILLEGAL PAYMENTS IN

CONNECTION WITH THE CONTRACT TO BUILD THE NEW HARARE

AIRPORT) AND MAY (OVER A STORY ALLEGING THAT A US COURT IN

NEW YORK HAD RULED IN FAVOR OF CIVIL CLAIMS AGAINST

PRESIDENT MUGABE FOR HIS ROLE IN VIOLENCE RELATED TO THE

JUNE 2000 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION).

 

5.   MUCHADEYI MASUNDA, CEO OF THE COMPANY THAT OWNS THE

“DAILY NEWS” SAID THAT THIS INCIDENT WAS PART OF A CAMPAIGN

DATING TO APRIL 2000 TO MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTINUE

PUBLISHING THE NEWSPAPER. IN APRIL 2000 A SMALL EXPLOSIVE

DEVICE WAS DETONATED IN A STOREFRONT IMMEDIATELY BELOW

EDITOR NYAROTA’S OFFICE. IN JANUARY 2001 THE “DAILY NEWS”

PRINTING PRESSES WERE COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY EXPLOSIVES.

THERE WERE NO INJURIES IN EITHER ATTACK AND NO ARRESTS HAVE

BEEN MADE IN EITHER INCIDENT. MASUNDA SAID THAT THE

NEWSPAPER WOULD NOT GIVE UP AND IS DETERMINED TO KEEP

“TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.”

 

WHITEHEAD

 

UNCLASSIFIED

 

>

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