Authorities in Zimbabwe must immediately stop the attacks by a religious leader against journalists and media houses, the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) said today. The perpetrators of these attacks must be punished.
According to FAJ affiliate, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, ZUJ, the chief photographer of Chronicle newspaper, Elias Saushoma, for doing his job, was harassed and detained on Thursday August 14, by Walter Magaya, the head of a religious outfit known as the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries Church.
The photographer was taking pictures at a meeting held in Bulawayo when Magaya’s bouncers assaulted and harassed him.
“Authorities must thoroughly investigate these attacks, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to court,” said Mohamed Garba, FAJ President. “The religious leader Walter Magaya must know that media professionals should be respected while doing their duties”.
ZUJ said Magaya used hate speech while making reference to journalists, calling them agents of the devil who believe in Satanism than in God. ZUJ Secretary General Foster Dongozi said the Union was deeply concerned by the abusive tone taken by Magaya and the violence exhibited by his surrogates which could result in further attacks on journalists.
He said the Union was consulting on the way forward following the attack on Saushoma.“Journalists and media practitioners should be allowed to practice without being threatened by anybody, including violent and intolerant sects or mafia groupings claiming to be religious organizations.
“Violence and intolerance are usually associated with gangsters, hoodlums and renegades and we hope this is the last that Magaya and his bouncers are associated with intolerance against journalists. This has the effect of negatively affecting the image of the country at a time when a lot is being done to rebuild Zimbabwe.”
Dongozi said ZUJ was waiting for a public apology from Magaya. On the allegations of adultery, the Union advised Magaya that journalists were merely messengers of information and were not the ones making the allegations against him.
For more information, please contact FAJ Secretariat: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents more than 50,000 journalists in 40 countries in Africa