The Chronicle Editor and Reporter Charged

BULAWAYO – Bulawayo magistrate John Masimba on Tuesday ruled that Chronicle editor, Brezhnev Malaba and reporter, Nduduzo Tshuma have a case to answer following the publication of a story which allegedly defamed the police in February.\r\n

The magistrate says Malaba and the reporter, together with the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) branch manager for Bulawayo, Sithembile Ncube, contravened Section 96 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, when they published a story, which alleged that Grain Marketing Board officials were diverting maize to the black market.

The story alleged that the GMB officials were working in cahoots with a senior police officer in the province. The police however say the story was defamatory and portrayed the police in bad light.

The three who were represented by Job Sibanda of Sibanda and Associates, were not asked to plead when they appeared before Masimba on Tuesday. The three’s application for refusal of remand was turned down by Masimba, who ruled that the three have a case to answer.

In his judgment, the magistrate said the application was based on whether there was any reasonable suspicious that an offence was committed. The trio was remanded out of custody to 19 May 2009 for trial.

The three in their application argued that the State did not have enough evidence to prove that there was a case against them.

The three further argued that there was no basis to put them on further remand, and contended that the published story was about corruption at the Grain Marketing Board and did not in any way involve the police.

This is the first time since the promulgation of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Broadcasting Services Act and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act that a state editor and a reporter have been charged for media offences.

Since the promulgation of the laws the police have arrested only independent journalists.