POLICE in Chiredzi arrested freelance photojournalist, Dumisani Zvandasara for allegedly taking pictures of them transacting private business at a roadblock.
Zvandasara, who is accredited by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, was forced to delete the pictures of three policeman caught on camera buying legal aid insurance from a Golden Knot salesperson at a roadblock.
A Constable M Matshiya then charged Zvandasara with contravening Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and listed the offence as taking a picture at a police checkpoint.
“Charged with contravening Section 46 as read with subsection 2(4) of the Third Schedule Chapter 9:23, accused was taking photos at a police spot check,” part of the charge sheet reads.
The police spot check was at GMB turnoff last week Wednesday when, Zvandasara, who was travelling to Chiredzi, saw the police officers transacting private business at the spot, while they had abandoned motorists, whom they had stopped.
“The saleslady from Golden Knot Legal Aid came out of her car and, right in the middle of the road, started issuing receipts to the police officers. I saw a picture opportunity to tell a national story about abuse of office and I was arrested,” Zvandasara said.
Golden Knot group chief operating officer, Sifiso Mahlangu criticised the unnamed saleslady, saying such levels of aggressive marketing were not supported by company policy.
“We encourage the salespeople to make appointments and then visit clients in safe areas and not at a roadblock,” he said.
Police officers forced Zvandasara to pay a fine and to delete his pictures or face a night in custody after holding him for nearly four hours.
His lawyer, Ross Chavi, said he encouraged Zvandasara to pay the $20 fine to avoid sleeping in police cells, but he had since challenged the admission of guilt fine.
“We are talking of an accredited journalist doing his job of exposing what appears to be corrupt tendencies and people who appear to be on the wrong,” he explained.
“Zvandasara was accused of being a nuisance, but we are sure he did not commit any crime. So we have written to the court demanding our day before real justice.”
Zvandasara said: “I paid the fine just to avoid sleeping in the cells and agreed to delete the pictures, which I, however, later recovered from my cloud (storage software).”
Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe chapter had to dispatch a lawyer to assist the photojournalist after it appeared he was going to spend the night in cells.
National police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Charity Charamba said she was yet to see the pictures of the incident.