THREE years after the Supreme Court ordered full investigations into the torture of Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka of the Standard, police this week visited the newspape
r’s offices saying they wanted to interview the two.
Two police officers from Braeside police station shocked journalists on Wednesday afternoon when they appeared at the Standard offices looking for both Chavunduka and Choto. Chavunduka died last November and Choto relocated to the United States.
The policemen said they wanted to record statements from the two to complete a docket which had gone missing.
Choto is currently reporting for the Voice of America.
In March 2000, the Supreme Court ordered police commissioner Augustine Chihuri to investigate reports that the two were tortured by the military in January 1999 for publishing an article about a foiled military coup to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Then Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay agreed with the full bench that the journalists had been denied the right to the protection of the law when police failed to investigate their abduction by the army.
Chavunduka and Choto, then editor and chief writer for the Standard respectively, were arrested after publication of the article and charged with publishing false news likely to cause alarm. They were detained for almost a week. They were allegedly tortured before being released on bail.
A doctor’s examination confirmed their claims that they had been subjected to torture through electric shocks and beaten with wooden sticks in a case which shocked the international community.
In 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that Section 50 of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act under which they were charged was unconstitutional.
Chavunduka and Choto also tried to sue the army for wrongful arrest and torture and to bring contempt of court charges against Defence secretary Job Whabira for ignoring a High Court order to release the two journalists.