Popular DJ Tafadzwa Sikwila sustained serious head injuries after being severely assaulted by four Zimbabwe National Army soldiers for wearing military camouflage replica pants without authorization, writes Gugu Ziyahpapha.
Sikwila, from state-owned Power FM,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â was beaten by the soldiers in Gweru on the 25th of October. After the assault, theyÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â bundled him into a military vehicle and sped off towards Zvishavane. He was thrown off the moving vehicle and sustained head injuries.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
A civilian who was driving by picked up Sikwila and rushed him to the Gweru Cental Hospital where he was hospitalized and treated for internal head bleeding and injuries.
Inspector Andrew Phiri, the Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson, confirmed the incident and said police are investigating the case.
The soldiers were apparently angered by the celebrityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s fashionable and trendy camouflage pants. The Defence Act prohibits the wearing of camouflage material by civilians.
MISA Zimbabwe says it condemns the law as well as the abduction of media personnel by any person as this reflects a lack of respect for the rule of law and the right of citizens to free association as well as to freedom of expression.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn any event, where such prohibitions are existent, as is the case in Zimbabwe, they do not stipulate that a citizen found in violation of these must be tortured or abducted,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â MISA Zimbabwe said.
A day after SkwilaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s abduction and assault, a sports reporter from state-owned media, Makomborero Mutimukulu, was assaulted by three stadium entrance gate bouncers soon after a Cup quarter-final match between Dynamos FC and Gunners FC.
Mutimukulu, a journalist with The Sunday Mail, said the bouncers accused him of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œwriting nonsenseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â as they assaulted him.
MISA Zimbabwe says it is now concerned over the safety of journalists and the attitude that is displayed towards reporters who are just doing their job.
The media advocacy group also called on the football clubs and soccer league officials to instruct their supporters and security personnel to respect the right of journalists to report without fear.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is also MISA ZimbabweÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s considered view that regardless of which media house a journalist works for, they deserve to function and operate in an environment that is free from arbitrary detention, assault, torture and intimidation.
Meanwhile, British journalist, Phillip Warrington Taylor who is facing charges of practising journalism without accreditation in Zimbabwe, has jumped bail and sneaked out of the country.
Defence lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told a Harare magistrate on the 4th of November that the prosecution of Taylor could not proceed as he had received an SMS from his client notifying him that he was already in South Africa
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI have gathered that Taylor skipped bail and sneaked out of the country over the weekend and so his trial could not go ahead,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â says Nkomo. As a result a warrant of arrest has been issued against Taylor, wÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â hofaced a two-year jail term if found guilty of practising journalism without accreditation.
The British journalist was arrested on the 30th of October by state security agents while aboard a UK-bound plane at the Harare International Airport.
He denies the state allegations that when he was in the country for 31 days he practiced journalism. He says he was just an ordinary tourist. He was ordered to surrender his passport when he was granted bail.