Fearless incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono has been remanded in custody to next week Monday by Harare regional magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa.
Chin’ono’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had alleged that the police brought Chin’ono late to court, breaching a 48 hour constitutional requirement of bringing the accused person before the judiciary when he or she is arrested.
Gofa however ruled that Chin’ono was brought to court within the confines of the 48hrs prescribed time.
Mtetwa told the court that Chin’ono was a journalist and had a right not disclose his sources. She made it an oral submission expecting that the state would not request time to read and come up with a response on the other day.
The prosecuting counsel had four legal state minds that requested the matter to be rolled to Monday at 11:15am. Gofa ruled that the matter be rolled to Monday at 2:15pm.
Chin’ono will spend the rest of the weekend at the country’s largest and most notorious jail, the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Addressing the media after the court ruling, Mtetwa told the media that she did not agree with the magistrate’s ruling because the investigating officer had confirmed that Chin’ono was over detained.
Chin’ono was arrested on Tuesday and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly tweeted that he had spoken with some members of NPA who told him that gold smuggler Henrietta Rushwaya was going to be granted bail.
Rushwaya, Mnangagwa’s relative and former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) boss was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport after she was caught attempting to smuggle 6.09kgs of gold to Dubai worth over USD$300 000.
But in what seemed embarrassing scenes on Thursday, Chin’ono was taken to the Anti-Corruption Section at the magistrate court yet this was a criminal case.
Fearless Chin’ono fumed saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa was persecuting him for exposing corruption and using the anti-corruption court “they can control” to punish “critics.
“They arrested me for exposing the corruption between the gold smugglers and the NPA.
“They are persecuting us for doing our work as journalists.
“This is embarrassing, the government of Zimbabwe is abusing the anti-corruption court system to persecute critics. Why are you taking me to anti-corruption, are you not embarrassed. You have no shame.
“We have said time and time again to the citizens that Mnangagwa’s government is abusing the court system using the anti-corruption court to punish and persecute critics. Here we are. It’s a criminal case but I’m being taken to the anti-corruption where they can control the processes,”
His lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa emotionally said, “there is no allegation of corruption so why are we here.”
Chin’ono was remanded to Friday (today) Mtetwa had submitted that the sitting of the court was illegal since her client was brought after 48 hour of arrest.
Chin’ono was already on bail after he was arrested on July 20 and charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption in government, spent 45 days at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released by the High Court.
The investigative journalist played a crucial role in exposing alleged corruption by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, the US $60 million Dax Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
He was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala who have since been released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
Ngarivhume and Sikhala attended court Thursday and Friday in solidarity with their fellow detainee.