Zimbabwe accused of using lockdown to silence reporters

Two Zimbabwean journalists who’d been charged with violating lockdown regulations have now been freed on bail, amid accusations the government is using the lockdown to silence dissent.

Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira were arrested on Friday, as they interviewed three opposition officials who said they were abducted, sexually assaulted and tortured by state agents after staging a protest.

The prosecution said the reporters snuck into a hospital where the three women were receiving treatment and interviewed them, defying an earlier refusal by an officer guarding the women.

The journalists meanwhile said they were allowed by law to work during the lockdown, and were simply doing their job.

The main opposition MDC party accuses the government of using the lockdown regulations to silence the reporters.

Zimbabwe police deny arresting the opposition officials, and say they had no involvement in the alleged abductions.

Meanwhile the police spokesperson, Paul Nyathi said that 41,738 people have been arrested, fined, warned or imprisoned over the last two months for violating lockdown restrictions.

Some were arrested for failing to wear masks, keeping their businesses open, selling alcohol without a licence or holding church services under the cover of darkness.

“What is apparent is that some people are not afraid of this disease and the consequences could be dire,” he said.