CPJ Wants Filmmaker Ndebele Released
-Urges Authorities In Zimbabwe
State security in Zimbawe on March 21, 2019 arrested documentary filmmaker,Zenzele Ndebele and charged him with “possession of offensive weapons at public gatherings,” under Section 43 of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Law Code, according to his lawyers and news reports. Security officers found a used tear gas canister in the journalist’s car when he arrived for a meeting between President EmmersonMnangagwa and civil society organizations at State House in Bulawayo, his lawyers NqobaniSithole and Lewis Maunze, told CPJ.
Ndebele told the security officers that he had picked up the canister at a protest and forgotten about it, Maunze said. Ndebele’s home and office were raided and he is in custody at the central police station until a scheduled court appearance the following dayMaunze said.
Ndebele’s camera operator, Sautsani Ali, was also detained but has since been released, according to the Zimbabwean chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
“We urge Zimbabwean authorities to release Zenzele Ndebele immediately and to drop the ridiculous charge against him,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “His arrest smacks of retaliation for his past work, and makes a mockery of the very idea of dialogue between President EmmersonMnangagwa and civil society.”
Police questioned Ndebele in September about his documentary “Gukurahundi Genocide: 36 years later,” on a massacre by the army of thousands of civilians in the 1980s, according to news reports and a statement at the time by MISA-Zimbabwe. Ndebele told CPJ at the time that he had received death threats.
Meanwhile, if found guilty, Ndebele could face up to five years in prison or a fine of US$2,000, according to a MISA-Zimbabwe tweet.