Amnesty International has condemned the arrest of Newsday reporter, Kenneth Nyangani over a story he wrote about the first lady Grace Mugabe distributing second-hand underwear to ruling ZANU-PF party members saying this smacks of a deliberate tactic to intimidate journalists from doing their work.
In an statement released on Tuesday, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe, Cousin Zilala described Nyangani’s arrest as a tactic to intimidate him and other journalists from doing their work.
“The arrest of Kenneth Nyangani is a deliberate tactic to harass and intimidate him and other journalists in order to deter them from doing their work,
“The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths,” said Zilala.
He urged government of Zimbabwe not to criminalize journalists for doing their work calling for the unconditional release of Nyangani.
“Zimbabwean journalists should not be criminalized simply for doing their work. Kenneth Nyangani must be released immediately and unconditionally and all charges against him dropped,” said Zilala.
The arrest followed a weekend report titled Grace donates used underwear, that quoted Dangamvura Chikanga member of Parliament, Esau Mupfumi saying he had visited First Lady Grace Mugabe at State House and was given used panties to donate to residents of Ward 16 that includes Dangamvura and Gimboki suburbs
According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Mupfumi filed a report with the police and deposed to a statement which was unclear if the legislator was the complainant himself or the First Lady.
Meawhile, Nyangani who was represented by lawyers from ZLHR has since been granted $200 bail and was remanded to 18 October, 2017.
Nyangani is charged under Section 46 of the Criminal Law and Codification (Reform) Act for criminal nuisance.
In the State outline, arising from Mupfumi’s police report, the donations from the First Lady were brand new, and also included pairs of sandals, golf t-shirts, handbags and men’s boxer shorts.
Nyangani, who signed a warned and cautioned statement, denied the charges and stated that he was held for 18 hours without being told his charge and that his rights to practice as a journalist had been ‘seriously threatened’.