BY KENNETH NYANGANI
MUTARE-based freelance journalist Sydney Saize was arrested on Thursday while investigating the alleged looting and partisan distribution of food aid to Cyclone Idai victims at Ngangu Primary School in Chimanimani.
Saize was later released without charge after the intervention of human rights lawyers.
He was picked up by soldiers and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation and allegedly forced to “sign” for relief aid meant for distribution to affected communities.
The soldiers took pictures of him while allegedly stage-managing the theft in order to humiliate and dehumanise the journalist.
The pictures have since gone viral on social media platforms.
Rights lawyer Passmore Nyakureba confirmed Saize’s release to NewsDay Weekender yesterday.
“Our instructions were to secure his release and safety. He was arrested without a charge. He went there with an intention to find out on the unfair distribution of food relief for Cyclone Idai victims,” Nyakureba said
“He told us that he wanted to investigate the politicisation of food aid. He had his recorder and phone when interviewing the Chimanimani villagers.
“He had taken some pictures and recordings, but one soldier asked him where he was coming from and why he was taking pictures. They deleted the pictures and recordings. He was forced to sign for food aid and they took pictures of him in order to humiliate him. He was forced to do so.”
Media Institute of Southern Africa Manicaland advocacy chairperson Kenneth Matimaire called on authorities to bring to book the soldiers and intelligence officers who harassed Saize.
“This was tantamount to abuse of authority. There is no law that permits State security agents to abuse their authority in that regard. It’s an attack on Press freedom,” he said