Zimbabwe High Court judge Justice Manzunzu has ordered the police and other law enforcement agencies not to arrest, detain or interfere in any unnecessary way with the work of journalists.

MISA Zimbabwe laywer Chris Mhike, speaking to Newzim.com said he hopes the order granted by the High Court will bring to an end the unlawful harassment and arrests of journalists which was on the rise, particularly during this lockdown period.

This follows an urgent chamber application that was filed by MISA Zimbabwe and journalist Panashe Makufa against the arrests and harassment of journalists by police officers during the lockdown.

Justice Manzunzu said:

“Police officers and all other law enforcement agencies charged with the duty to implement the Coronavirus related lockdown are interdicted from arresting, detaining or interfering in any unnecessary way with the work of the 2nd applicant (Makufa) and members of 1st applicant (MISA Zimbabwe) purely on the basis that their press cards issued in 2019 have expired.”

The high court ordered police to communicate the validity of the 2019 press cards is all police stations in Zimbabwe within 12 hours.

Mhike said this is a victory for media practitioners and the right to media freedom in Zimbabwe as the court order should go a long way in entrenching the enjoyment of media freedom during the lockdown extension period and beyond.