Monday, 13 May 2019

JOURNO IN COURT FOR ASSAULTING MUKUPE


NEWSDAY senior reporter Blessed Mhlanga will today appear in court facing charges of assaulting former Finance deputy minister Terence Mukupe during a radio show last May. 

The State alleges that on May 24 at SpotFM studios at Pockets Hill in Harare, Mhlanga assaulted the deputy minister by pushing him with open hands and pulling his jacket intending to cause bodily harm.

Mhlanga’s lawyer, Chris Mhike confirmed that he had received summons from the police on behalf of his client, with the State demanding the appearance of Mhlanga in court on May 13, almost a year after the alleged assault.

“The dark days of naked repression and persecution of the Press are back. The tragedy emanating from the strange prosecution of this journalist is heightened by the fact that the summons were delivered only a few days after this year’s Press Freedom Day,” Mhike said. 

He asked rhetorically why the police would need a whole year to investigate an assault that allegedly took place inside a State-owned radio studio.

Mhike said he will raise these and other pertinent issues relating to the case before the courts on Monday.

In letters previously addressed to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Mhlanga’s legal team raised concern over the constitutionality of the State’s handling of Mukupe’s allegations, and the subsequent arrest of the journalist.

“As far as we’re concerned, Mhlanga and his wife are the real victims of Mukupe’s actions in that studio last year,” Mhike said.

The State is yet to serve the accused’s legal team with papers. Last year, during a live radio interview Mukupe, in the company of his two bodyguards, allegedly assaulted Mhlanga and stole his wife’s cellphone.

Mukupe was unhappy over a story published by NewsDay, where he was captured on camera, saying the army had forcibly grabbed power from former President Robert Mugabe in a coup in 2017, in an effort to block opposition leader Nelson Chamisa from taking leadership of the country.

Mhlanga then reported the assault and theft of property by Mukupe, then Harare East legislator to the ZRP at Highlands, but the police have taken a year to investigate the matter and have instead charged the victims.

Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe has expressed its support for the journalist. Newsday

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