THREE South Africans arrested last weekend in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, in alleged possession of broadcasting equipment belonging to television network Sky News, appeared in court yesterday facing charges of contravening provisions of the Post and Telecommunications Act.
The three, Bennet Hassen Sono, Resemate Chauke, and Simon Maodi, jointly charged with Craig Mark Ram Edy (42), a Bulawayo resident, were remanded in custody to today.
Defence lawyers, Advocate Tim Cherry and Tavengwa Hara, last night confirmed the accusedâ€™s court appearance.
Cherry told the Zimbabwe Independent: “Our clients appeared in court today (yesterday) at around 16:30 hours at our insistence as the police said they wanted time to investigate further. It has been agreed that they plead guilty to the charge of contravening sections of the Post and Telecommunications Act. Their plea will be heard when the court sits again tomorrow to consider bail.”
He said the prosecutor had declined to call on any witness to give evidence in the matter, saying the police were still investigating.
Cherry said the police had also requested for time to “scan through the equipment”.
“The police said they needed time to scan through the equipment and establish the contents of the boxes which they found in Edyâ€™s house. Some of the equipment is said to have Sky labels on them and the police want to establish who the owners of the equipment are,” Cherry added.
The equipment would be produced in court as exhibits during the trial of the accused.
Sky News, BBC and CNN are among the foreign news organisations banned from reporting in Zimbabwe.
Earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders condemned the continued use of violence against the independent press after 60 000 copies of The Zimbabwean On Sunday newspaper were intercepted and torched on Saturday at Ngundu Halt, Masvingo, and a freelance reporter was attacked and beaten in the eastern city of Mutare.
“These attacks must not remain unpunished,” the press freedom organisation said. “Since the 29 March general elections, the authorities have been guilty of at least 12 violations of their national and international undertakings in the form of physical attacks and arbitrary arrests of journalists. These attacks on the independent press are now being carried out by unidentified men armed with AK-47 rifles and using 4-wheel drive vehicles.”
By Nkululeko Sibanda