THE editor of the state-owned Sunday Mail and two of his reporters have been arrested on charges on publishing falsehoods.
Zimpapers, the Sunday Mail’s holding company, confirmed the arrest of Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo.
They were arrested Monday over an article claiming the involvement of senior police officers and Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers in elephant poaching.
The trio’s lawyer, James Muzangaza, said his clients had charged with publishing falsehoods and were detained at Harare Central Police Station.
The ZRP said it had inquired at all police stations and found no reports of top officers being investigated for involvement in poaching.
Said Zimpapers CEO, Pikirayi Deketeke: “I do not have the finer details of the case but the idea of arresting and detaining them without a charge does not augur well.
“We hope tomorrow (Tuesday) we will get the finer details of the case as our lawyers were the last to get in touch with police.”
Harare attorney, Muzangaza added: “Initially when I met the officers at Zimpapers (Herald House) they said they wanted the journalists’ cooperation.
“In the afternoon I got the shocking news that they were arrested for refusing to disclose the source of their story.
“Attempts to have a warned and cautioned statement recorded were futile as the investigating officer said he was in Ruwa and could not record statements after 4.30 pm.”
Last week parks officials revealed that 22 elephants had been killed though cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park, bringing to 78 the number of jumbos poisoned in the country this month.
An article in the Sunday Mail claimed that one of the suspects under active investigation over the poaching was an assistant commissioner in the ZRP.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary general, Foster Dongozi, condemned the arrests.
Said Dongozi: “Why are they arresting the messengers? Why not conduct investigations to see which officials are involved?
“The issue of elephant poaching is of national importance. It was their right as journalists to expose the scandal. We condemn these acts of harassment.
“Police should not be seen anywhere near the newsroom. They should conduct their own internal investigations.”