Reporter, Driver, Charge Governor With Abduction, Assault
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AP) _ A newspaper reporter and his driver filed a complaint with police against a provincial governor, alleging he abducted, assaulted and threatened to shoot them after an interview, their newspaper said Tuesday.
Zimbabwe’s state-owned Mass Media Trust and one of its newspapers which employs the two announced they will not report on the governor’s actions until the safety of their reporters is guaranteed.
President Robert Mugabe called a news conference to say he was awaiting an official report.
″We cannot act on the basis of newspaper reports,″ he said. ″The right way is, really, for those who have been assaulted to make out a case.″
Journalist Gibbs Dube and chauffeur Phillip Maseko of The Chronicle, published in Bulawayo, made formal allegations to police that Matabeleland Gov. Mark Dube chased them in his station wagon, seized their car keys and forcibly escorted them to his home Sunday.
There, according to their newspaper’s report, the governor punched them and threatened to shoot them with a pistol. This occurred after interviewing the governor at his residence about gold mining operations.
Dube, unrelated to the governor, escaped from the residence at Esigodini near Bulawayo while the governor allegedly was beating the driver.
Maseko was held more than two hours before the governor drove him to a nearby police station and ordered his detention.
Police freed Maseko five hours later after deciding they had no grounds to hold him.
″I did not try to escape because I feared I would be shot,″ Maseko told his paper.
Deputy Police Commissioner Douglas Chingoka broke an official silence on the affair to criticize police officers. He said he would punish Esigodini policemen if they unlawfully detained the driver.
Zimbabwe Newspapers Ltd., owners of The Chronicle and all Zimbabwe’s other daily and Sunday newspapers, condemned what it called brutal, unprovoked and premeditated attacks.
″This is an example of jungle law which Zimbabwe should not tolerate from its leaders,″ said group chief executive Elias Rusike. If the governor were not punished, ″Zimbabwe may be entering a new frightening era where the rights of ordinary citizens are trampled underfoot willy-nilly by those in authority.″
The Chronicle recently has won popular acclaim for exposing cases of alleged official corruption, including a report charging Gov. Dube illegally grazes cattle on state land.
The governor has made no official comment. When he was questioned Sunday by The Chronicle, he reportedly said the reporter was held because he did not have proper identification.
Of the driver, who still was being detained at the governor’s residence, Dube was quoted as saying: ″You can write what you want but I am going to work on this guy.″