State Editors Taste AIPPA

The latest being Chronicle Editor Innocent Gore who was on Tuesday summoned by detectives from the Law and Order section for questioning over a story in which a Nkulumane man alleged that two people suspected to be police officers attempted to rob him.

Gore, the detectives said, is to be charged with contravening Section 80 (1) (a) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

AIPPA has in the past been used against staff of privately owned media and in the past was responsible for the shutdown of newspapers resulting in hundreds of journalists losing their jobs.

Another state editor, Brezhnev Malaba of the Sunday Mail, also has a pending court case after police filed criminal charges alleging falsehood reporting over a case involving missing maize from GMB.

Malaba published the story while still editor of the Chronicle two years ago.

The section that Gore faces relates to abuse of journalistic privilege in that the police claim that the paper fabricated the story about the attempted robbery.

Gore, in his warned and cautioned statement at Bulawayo Central Police Station, denied the charges.

He was taken to the Bulawayo magistrates’ courts on Tuesday afternoon but his case could not proceed as the Area Public Prosecutor, Simon Nleya, was said to have gone to see a doctor.

Nleya was expected to decide on the way forward later on Wednesday.

The state-owned Chronicle newspaper last Wednesday carried a story of Bothwell Ncube, who stated that on Monday just before midnight, he was coming from a night spot in Nkulumane 12 when two people, a woman and a man, approached him as he was getting home.

He alleged that they demanded money from him and asked him to lie down.

 When he resisted and screamed, the man fired a shot into the air attracting neighbours.

A neighbour, Margaret Makoni, said when she got to the scene and inquired what was happening, she was threatened with death and told to shut up. Another resident, Zodwa Moyo, claimed that on being challenged to produce their police identity cards or handcuff Ncube, the pair refused and fled from the scene.

Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu could not confirm or deny the incident when contacted for comment.

Ncube appeared in court on Monday facing charges of assaulting or resisting a police officer and was granted US$50 bail and will next appear in court on September 27.

Relations between police and the state media in Bulawayo took a nose dive after the daily paper castigated the police for shooting and killing suspected armed robbers whom they lured into the city centre using girlfriends.

It later turned out that the shot and killed man was not an armed robber and was a university student in South Africa at the time of the alleged crime.