The High Court of Zimbabwe on April 20 2020 ordered the police and other law enforcement agents on duty enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown not to arrest, detain or interfere “in any unnecessary way” with the work of journalists.
This follows urgent chamber application that was filed by MISA Zimbabwe (first applicant) and journalist Panashe Makufa (second applicant), against the arrests and harassments of journalists by police officers during the lockdown.
The Commissioner – General of police and Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) were cited as first and second respondents respectively in the application filed by the applicant’s lawyer Chris Mhike.
“Police officer and all other law enforcement agencies charges with the duty to implement the Covid – 19 lockdown are interdicted from arresting, detaining or interfering in any unnecessary way with the work of the 2nd applicant and members of 1st applicant purely on basis that their press cards issued in 2019 are expired,” said Justice Manzunzu in his judgement.
In a stamen, MISA Zimbabwe also applauded government move to recognize the media as an essential service.
“Commendably, this also comes at a time when government has since gazette Statutory Instrument (SI) 93 of 2020 following of lockdown, which among other measures, also specifically highlights that communication and telecommunication services includes the internet, journalists and newspaper vendors,” the statement reads.