By Staff Reporter
NEWZIMBABWE.COM reporter Leopold Munhende was Friday morning arrested while covering a protests by the Amalgamated Teacher Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) in central Harare.
Munhende was bundled into a truck along with hordes of protesting teachers and human rights lawyer Douglas Coltart.
Coltart was involved in skirmishes with police officers before he was handcuffed.
Charges had not been preferred and the group f about a dozen people was whisked off to Harare Central Police Station. Efforts to explain to police officers that Munhende was legitimately going about his job gathering news fell on deaf ears with one of the commanders retorting: “He will be cleared at the stations as long as he has his accreditation.”
Police harassed several journalists threatening to beat up anyone who tried to reason with them. Authorities early Friday sealed off the Government Composite Building home to the Ministry of Finance in anticipation or the protest which the teachers code named “Black Friday.”
ARTUZ has been demanding payment of teachers’ salaries in foreign currency for months now and early this year walked from Mutare to Harare protesting poor working conditions.
NewZimbabwe.com editor Nkosana Dhlamini expressed disgust at the abuse of authority by police and the growing tendency to harass journalists going about their business.
“Its shocking that police in trying to deal with protests have turned on journalists who will be going about their work. Our job is to tell the story of Zimbabwe as it happens.
“To bring news to the people but this has become increasingly difficult to do, given the conduct of police in general and their behaviour towards journalists,” said Dhlamini.