Zimbabwe journalist in court, charged for inciting violence

Thursday July 23 2020

Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin'ono arrives at his home in police custody as police conduct a search of his offices in Harare on July 21, 2020, a day after he was arrested and charged with incitement to commit public violence. PHOTO | JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | AFP


Award-winning Zimbabwean journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin'ono appeared in court Wednesday where he was charged with incitement to violence.

Armed police arrested Chin'ono, 49, at his home in the capital Harare on Monday.

The prominent documentary filmmaker had been investigating reported corruption linked to government purchases of coronavirus protection gear and test kits.

At Harare Magistrates Court, prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi accused Chin'ono of inciting Zimbabweans to join a planned anti-government protest during a coronavirus outbreak, which showed "no regard for human life".

Mabhaudhi opposed bail due to the "likelihood for him to abscond" and flee the country with the help of "outside contacts".

Chin'ono has not yet been asked to enter his plea.


His lawyers complained about the circumstances of his arrest and custody.

A video clip recorded at the journalist's house showed the remains of the glass door that police smashed in order to gain entry.

Chin'ono was arrested on the same day as opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume.

Ngarivhume -- president of a small party named Transform Zimbabwe -- scheduled nationwide protests against state corruption and the country's economic crisis.

The planned protest date of July 31 is the second anniversary of a general election won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa amid accusations of fraud.

But the demonstration was de-facto banned when Mnangagwa imposed a curfew and reinstated confinement measures on Tuesday to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Zimbabwe's recorded tally of Covid-19 surged by nearly a third over the past week to reach 1,713 cases, including 26 deaths.

Ngarivhume was charged alongside Chin'ono and is also awaiting a decision on his request for bail.

The bail hearings will continue on Thursday.