THE cash-strapped Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) faces a defamation suit from Topper and Laurinda Whitehead for alleging the couple fabricated the story of a man who j
umped onto the back of their car and threatened to burn it while they were driving during last month’s mass action.
The incident took place outside Meikles Hotel in central Harare. The ZBC flighted footage of the man threatening to burn their car and claimed the episode was stage-managed to coincide with the G8 summit in France. ZBC said the man might have been a journalist.
Topper Whitehead said they had given ZBC seven days to retract their story and apologise but the television station declined.
“I am now in the process of filing papers to sue ZBC for defamation,” said Whitehead.
The Whiteheads’ version of events was supported by the chairman of the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, Anthony Mukwendi, who said he witnessed the event.
“I saw the group of men attacking a man outside the hotel and I took notice of the filming of the event,” he said.
“I followed for a few kilometres when the man jumped behind the car but I lost track of them,” said Mukwendi.
Whitehead said the man was a war veteran and the matter had been reported to the police.
“We first reported the case at Avondale police station and gave them the name of the suspect,” said Whitehead.
“We were then referred to Harare Central police station (Law and Order). The reference number for the case is 5770-03. We made a statement and gave the police the video footage,” Whitehead said.
He said the man jumped onto his car in an attempt to seize his camera.
“The man was infuriated when we captured footage of him and his colleagues attacking a man outside Meikles Hotel during the mass action called by the MDC,” Whitehead said.
“When the men saw that we were filming them they ran towards our car and we started off. Only one of them managed to cling onto the car and he was the one who was threatening us,” said Whitehead.
He said the man was related to a former Zanu PF member of parliament.