ZRP on Thursday stopped a peaceful protest march by Church Leaders against police brutality and in solidarity with the suffering ordinary Zimbabweans.
They also arrested and detained two reporters, Freelance journalist Robert Tapfumaneyi and NewsDay reporter Obey Manayiti, accusing them of taking pictures of anti- riot police harassing the pastors. The two were later released after ZRP officers deleted ‘their’ pictures.
The clamp down on journalists came a day after another female journalist, Lucy Yasini, was, on Wednesday, beaten by anti-riot police as she was covering the clash between the police and MDC-T Youths after the #myzimbabwe campaign launch.
The Thursday march was supposed to start from Parkade corner Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela to Parliament Building. The church leaders were being led by Pastor Phillip Mugadza of Zimbabwe Devine Destiny and other pastors from Christian Alliance, Prayer Network Zimbabwe, Christian Voice and Pastors Fellowship.
The clergymen had, earlier on, written to the police notifying them of the march but not asking for permission.
“This is mainly out of courtesy for internal security in case there may be some unruly elements in the streets,” read part of the letter to the police.
The police stopped the march despite the Pastors having a court order which exempted them from notifying a Regulatory Authority of an intention to hold a public gathering in terms of Public Order and Security Act.
“Whoever is responsible for giving the command that person must be called to account,” said a furious Mugadza after the police violently stopped the march. He added: “Should we wait until Zimbabwe has completely crumbled? Mr Mugabe, please call for national dialogue before it’s too late.”
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary general, Foster Dongozi, said ZUJ was appalled by the attacks on journalists.
He said: “We condemn in very strong terms the barbaric attacks on journalists. In another heinous attack on professional journalists, a vehicle belonging to the ZBC news crew was torched during a demonstration on Wednesday.”