News:Sunday Mail Trio Accused Of Communicating Falsehoods Approach Constitutional Court
The Sunday Mail trio accused of communicating falsehoods, yesterday applied for referral of their matter to the Constitutional Court. Editor Mabasa Sasa, investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo who through their lawyer Advocate Fadzayi Mahere submitted that at no circumstances should the media be required to disclose or authenticate the source of their information.
Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe advised Advocate Mahere to make oral submissions and call a witness who would be cross-examined by State. However, Advocate Mahere said there was no need to lead evidence from a witness because the court’s ruling dismissing the accused’s application for discharge was the basis of the Constitutional Court application.
The matter was postponed to September 5. The trio is facing charges of communicating or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State.
It is alleged that following the killing of 22 elephants by poachers using suspected cyanide poison, the accused published a story, “Top cop fingered in poaching saga”. It is further alleged that the trio knew that no assistant commissioner of the police was being investigated for being involved in the poaching of the elephants nor has ZRP made any arrest in connection with the crime.
As a result the publication of the alleged false statement was communicated nationally and internationally causing an outcry from the international community who support tourism industry. In their application, Advocate Mahere said by requiring the accused to “explain the basis upon which they wrote the article,” the court was demanding the trio to reveal their source of information.
Part of their application reads,
The article only states that an assistant commissioner is under investigation but it does not state by whom such investigation is being conducted. To ask the accused to explain the basis of their statement directly violates their constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Section 61(1)(a) of the Constitution permits the accused to seek, receive and communicate information. To prosecute them for exercising this fundamental right is unconstitutional and unlawful.
Read More: Herald
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