Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo’s application for discharge was dismissed yesterday.
They were placed to their defence and magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe adjourned the matter to August 1 for the defence case. In dismissing the application, Mr Mahwe said the police and Zimparks denied confirming that a Senior Assistant Commissioner was under active investigation.
“If this was denied, it means the article was false. The article could affect the economy of the country because it alleged that law enforcement agents were behind crime and nothing was being done to them,” ruled Mr Mahwe.
“It portrayed the country as lawless and no outsider would want to visit such country. The accused need to explain on the basis they wrote the story.”
The journalists were represented by Mr Blessmore Museba because their legal counsel, Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, had travelled.
The trio is facing charges of communicating or publishing false statements, prejudicial to the State.
Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri alleges that following the killing of elephants by poachers using suspected cyanide poison, the accused published a story, “Top cop fingered in poaching saga” on November 1, last year.
It is alleged that the trio knew that no Assistant Commissioner of the police is being investigated for being involved in the poaching of the elephants nor has ZRP made any arrest in connection with the crime.
Resultantly, the publication of the alleged false statement was communicated nationally and internationally, causing an outcry from the international community who support the tourism industry.
The trio is accused of publishing falsehoods that would adversely affect the tourism Industry and the economy.