“Journalism has been criminalised” – Chino’no

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INVESTIGATIVE Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on Friday rallied corruption busters to “continue the fight” against graft, moments after he had been denied bail at Harare Magistrates Court.

Chino’no appeared before judicial officers at Harare Magistrates Court answering to charges of inciting people to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government through unconstitutional means.

He was remanded in custody until August 7 by Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on the basis that he is a danger to the public because he has not yet completed his mission of inciting people to demonstrate on July 31.

And as he walked out of court to board the prison truck, Chino’no told journalists he was being prosecuted for reporting on what the organisers of the July 31 movement have been saying.

“I have been denied bail. They said I should come back on the 7th of August for the fact of reporting what the organisers of the July 31 protest were saying,” Chin’ono said.

“The struggle against corruption should continue. People should not stop, they should carry on with it,” he added.

In her submissions, Chin’ono’s lawyer Beatrice of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said there was nothing criminal in calling for the removal of the President.

Mtetwa gave reference to section 97 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and said the same section was used in November 2017.

She further told the court that Chin’ono was not one of the organisers of the July 31 protests but was just tweeting what was being organised.

Chin’ono was arrested by the police on Monday together with the organiser of the July 31 demonstration, Jacob Ngarivhume, who has since been denied bail.

Doug Coltart, a second lawyer representing the accused, said the facts presented by the state did not disclose any offence.

Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi accused Chin’ono of incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(b) as read with section 36(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Mabhaudhi told Magistrate Nduna that Chin’ono, allegedly posted various messages on his Twitter account using the handle @daddyhope during the period between 1 March 2020 to 20 July 2020 calling upon Zimbabweans across the country to engage in acts of public violence against the government on 31 July 2020.

It is the state’s case that Chin’ono allegedly posted several messages on Twitter which read; “@Ngarivhume and many others have come to put their hands up and said they will lead anti-looting demo on 31 July”, “That is the power of engaging with others! So from now on he says it will be the #July31.”

“Zimbabwe will NEVER be free from LOOTERS through elections, it is just a waste of time. They will rig elections, and of you go to court, their judiciary LOOTING partners will be waiting for you. “Change will come by any means.”

Mabhaudhi charged that by posting such messages Chin’ono intended to disturb the peace, security or order of the public.

On Tuesday 21 July 2020, ZRP members confiscated a camera belonging to Chin’ono after they obtained a warrant of search and seizure granted by Harare Magistrate Judith Taruvinga authorising them to conduct a search at the award winning journalist’s residence in Harare for cameras, articles or documents which he allegedly used in committing the offence.

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