HARARE – Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has condemned the attacks on journalists during and after last Wednesday’s protests that left seven people dead.
The organisation said it had received several reports of journalists who were injured while covering the violent clashes.
“A soldier assaulted Idah Mhetu, a New Zimbabwe journalist while she covered events unfolding at the corner of Robert Mugabe & Rotten Row.
Mhetu says the soldier, armed with a whip made of what appeared to be electrical cables covered in rubber, whipped her on her back. She suffered minor injuries as a result.
“Daniel Chigundu, a correspondent with OpenParlyZW was stoned on the forehead when a crowd that had gathered outside the Rainbow Towers Hotel turned rowdy and started hurling missiles. The crowd was trying to force its way onto the hotel grounds where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had set up its elections command centre. Chigundu was standing behind police officers who were guarding the gate at the time he was stoned,” Misa said in a statement.
Zimbabwe has a history of violence especially during election time. Journalists have also found themselves on the receiving end during these violent times.
Last year, Daily News photographer Brighton Goko and reporter Mugove Tafirenyika were hospitalised after they were shot by unknown objects by the police during protests.
The two journalists were admitted at AMI Trauma Centre after sustaining injuries near Harvest House where police forced the MDC headquarters to be shut.
According to Misa-Zimbabwe, since the Wednesday’s protests, it has received at least five complaints from journalists who have been attacked.
Misa also said in one of the incidences, another journalist Tinotenda Samukange was detained for close to three hours by soldiers in Harare’s high-density suburb of Kuwadzana on Friday.
“Samukange was on his way home when he was informed that the military had been deployed in the high-density suburb. Upon approaching the area, soldiers detained him despite identifying himself as a journalist. During his detention, he was instructed not to take pictures as the army executed its operation.
“We therefore call upon the government of Zimbabwe to stop the attacks on the media as journalists carry out their constitutionally-guaranteed duties.
“The media should be accorded unfettered access to events across the breadth of the country as they unfold, in line with the laws of Zimbabwe,” Misa said.