Please ignore the first alert and act on this new version - David Nthengwe
ACTION ALERT - ZIMBABWE
JANUARY 4, 1996
REPORTER APPEARS IN COURT, SAYS HE WAS FRAMED UP
A reporter for the Horizon Magazine, George Mangwiro, appeared in a Harare
court to answer charges of deceit and receiving a bribe of Z$5 000 (about
U$600) from Partnerz Company while, reportedly, masquerading as a customs
official. Mangwiro, who was first arrested on Friday September 15 and
released on Monday September 19, 1995, is reported to have denied the
charges when he appeared in court on November 13 and 14, 1995.
In his defence, Mangwiro is reported by the Horizon of December 1995
edition to have denied seeing or receiving any money and claimed that the
police had never searched him, contrary to the charges. He told the court
that Partnerz boss, David Curley, and the police fraud squad, 'framed him
up' in order to thwart publication of a story he was investigating.
Horizon reported that Harare police arrested reporter Mangwiro as he was
carrying out an investigation on Partnerz company. The company was said to
have been smuggling vehicles into the country and undervaluing of spare
part invoices in order to evade paying high import customs tax, the Horizon
When trial began last November, two state witnesses are reported to have
presented conflicting evidence against Mangwiro. State witness Detective
Assistant Inspector Nyoka, is reported to have denied authorising the use
of Z$5 000 as trap money. Nyoka also denied claims by the investigating
officer, Detective Sergeant Mashanyere, that the reporter was searched on
arrest. Inspector Nyoka's disclaimer, led to the court throwing out trap
'cash' as evidence against the reporter. The court hence relies on
photocopies of bank notes and their serial numbers as exhibits.
Inspector Nyoka further claimed that he did not know the facts about the
case and that he had arrested reporter Mangwiro on the orders from his
boss, Deputy Inspector Makamure. "I don't think we would have arrested the
accused at all if we had known of the background to the case," said
Inspector Nyoka after learning that Partnerz company was being investigated
by the accused reporter.
The second state witness, Partnerz's clerical officer, claimed that on
September 11, Mangwiro had called the company's officials telling them of a
false declaration they had made on the value of imported goods. "Mangwiro,"
said the clerk, "threatened that unless he was paid Z$5 000, he would have
the company prosecuted." The clerk further explained that following the
threats, Partnerz officials complained to customs officials who arranged a
trap with the police. However, the clerk is quoted as having told the court
that he was not fully aware of the facts surrounding the case: "Although I
am giving evidence, I am actually confused."
Mangwiro's defence lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, is reported to have told the
court that her client had, in the course of his duty, been promised
documentary evidence by the clerk on the irregularities in Partnerz
company . "Instead of handing over the documents, the clerk , together with
his boss, David Curley, connived with some members of the police fraud
squad to thwart him from publishing the story," Horizon reported Mtetwa as
Lawyer Mtetwa further said that the bribery attempt, "was a culmination of
Curley's many attempts to frustrate Mangwiro's investigations." She cited
Partnerz lawyer's letter of September 6, in which lawyers threatened
Horizon editor, Andrew Moyse, to stop publishing the story. However,
Horizon further reported that Mtetwa also observed and told the court that
Curley had not disclosed to the police that Mangwiro was investigating his
(Curley's) company over allegations of corruption.
The case has been postponed to mid January, 1996.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
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