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6 arrested for election crimes

Ndamu Sandu

SIX people were arrested while others — including a number of journalists — were held and questioned across the country as the sixth parliamentary election took place yesterday.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said last night that the six were arrested for various offences.

In Gweru a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporter was arrested for campaigning near the polling station. A Zanu PF supporter was arrested for the same offence.

Bvudzijena said police were keen to interview MDC candidate for Chinhoyi Silas Matamise who is alleged to have assaulted a voter who was in a queue.

Two farmers were arrested in Tengwe, Karoi, for disruptive behaviour at a polling station.

Bvudzijena said two journalists from the Sunday Telegraph, Toby Harnden and Julian Simmonds, were arrested in Norton for reporting without accreditation.

The journalists’ lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said last night the correspondents were still held at Norton police station and were being charged under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) for practising without a licence.

Renowned former CNN broadcaster Charlayne Hunter-Gault, now freelance, was detained for four hours after being nabbed at a polling station. Two French journalists were also temporarily detained while covering a Woza prayer meeting in Africa Unity Square yesterday.

Five other foreign journalists who were also covering the prayer meeting were questioned but not detained.

Police broke up the prayer meeting in front of a number of foreign correspondents, some staying at Meikles.

Most of the foreign correspondents questioned or temporarily detained were in fact accredited, their colleagues said.

The MDC contends that it effected a citizen’s arrest on five officials from Trima Printers caught printing fliers informing the public that the opposition party had pulled out of the election. The MDC said the five arrested were handed over to the police.

Bvudzijena said police questioned two people after they were caught printing material but nothing had been distributed.

When asked if the two people had been charged Bvudzijena said: “We will have to look at what law to charge them under. It is not just a matter of charging them but charging them under what?”

Bvudzijena said police had not received information pertaining to 11 Zanu PF supporters the MDC say were issuing numbered cards to voters as a way of controlling queues at Simudzai Primary School at 2.00am yesterday morning.

The MDC says deputy minister of Transport and Communication Andrew Langa threatened to shoot MDC polling agents at Silalatshani Business Centre in Insiza as they were being deployed in readiness for yesterday’s election. The opposition party said the matter has been reported to Gwanda police.

Bvudzijena said police were not aware of that incident but “were aware of misinformation the MDC had reported saying that their candidate was missing”.

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