Nevanji Madanhire who is being jointly charged with former reporter at The Standard Patience Nyangove and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) group human resources manager Loud Ramakgapola had argued that the charges infringed on their constitutional rights.
But provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on Wednesday dismissed the application saying his court had jurisdiction to hear the case. He ruled that the case must proceed to trial and remanded it to January 14.
Defence lawyers had argued that the Supreme Court sitting as a Constitutional Court would rule in favour of the journalists.
The journalists and Ramakgapola who is a representative of AMH, the publishers of The Standard, NewsDay and the Zimbabwe Independent newspapers were arrested in July in connection with a story in The Standard issue of June 26 – July 2, titled: “MDC-T fears for missing Timba”.
This followed the arrest Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jameson Timba who was denied access to lawyers and family for two days before the High Court declared his detention illegal.
Scores of Zimbabwean journalists have been charged with criminal defamation this year and if the application by The Standard journalists had been successful it would have come as a relief to the private media, which is facing a renewed crackdown by State institutions.