Zimbabwe: Investigative Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono arrested again

By Almot Maqolo

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Zimbabwean Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested yesterday on allegations of contempt of court.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, he was arrested at his home in Harare by police Law and Order section and taken to Harare Central Police Station.

Chin’ono is expected to appear in court today on charges of breaching Section 182 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which deals with contempt of court.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has arrested Hopewell Chin’ono for contravening section 182(1) (a) of the criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 or alternatively contravening section 182 (1) (b) of the same Act “Contempt of Court” and contravening section 184(1) (e) of the Code” Defeating or obstructing the course of justice,” national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said in a statement last night.

“Allegations are that between 25th and 27th October 2020, the suspect used his twitter account @daddyhope to post messages that impaired the dignity, reputation and authority of the court whilst clearly intending to do so.”

Nyathi said: “Secondly, Hopewell Chin’ono has confirmed through his twitter handle that he is in secret and unlawful communication with members of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), an institution that is prosecuting him.”

This has serious implications, he said, as it undermines the integrity of the criminal proceedings against him.

“The real risk being that he is manipulating the process and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.”

A corruption investigation has been launched to determine the true nature and extent of collaboration between the suspect and prosecutors in the NPA, he added.

Chin’ono was released on ZWL$10 000 bail in September after spending 45 days in prison on charges of inciting violence. 

The journalist’s bail conditions required him to surrender his passport, to report to the Highlands police station in Harare, the capital, every Monday and Friday, to reside at his given address in the city, and to surrender title deeds for a property he owns. Chin’ono is also required to stop using his Twitter account to “incite the holding of mass demonstrations” while on bail.

Pic: Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono arrives at his home in police custody as police conduct a search of his offices in Harare on July 21, 2020, a day after he was arrested and charged with incitement to commit public violence. Credit: AFP.

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