Tortured journalists Phiri released but hospitalised
By Violet Gonda
5 April 2007
Gift Phiri, the journalist from The Zimbabwean newspaper who was abducted near his home in Harare last Sunday, was finally released on bail on Thursday. His wife said that he was severely beaten and has been hospitalised. Lawyers confirmed that the journalist had been tortured while in police custody and is at the Avenues Clinic.
Phiri is being charged with working without accreditation, although he had applied for this. Under the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, journalists are allowed to practise while the government-appointed Media and Information Commission considers their application. The journalist is also being accused of abusing journalistic privileges and selling out the country to the west.
Human rights groups are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe where opposition activists and journalists are increasingly being brutalised by state security agents. In the last month 2 opposition officials have been murdered and last week 65-year-old cameraman Edward Chikomba was bludgeoned to death after he was abducted from his home by unknown assailants. It’s reported that he was the father of 7 children who are all tragically deceased and he was caring for his 11 grandchildren. We had reports late Thursday that there was heavy police presence at his home in Glen View where his family were trying to hold a wake, but we have been unable to get further information.