Prominent Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested yesterday for alleged contempt of court and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
In a statement last night, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said Chin’ono contravened sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“Allegations are that between 25th and 27th October 2020, the suspect used his Twitter account @daddyhope to post messages that impaired the dignity, reputation and authority of the court whilst clearly intending to do so,” he said.
“Secondly, Hopewell Chin’ono has confirmed through his Twitter handle that he is in secret and unlawful communication with members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), an institution that is prosecuting him.
“This has serious implications as it undermines the integrity of the criminal proceedings against him.
“The real risk being that he is manipulating the process and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said a corruption investigation has been launched to establish the true nature and extent of collaboration between the suspect and prosecutors in the NPA.
UK-based law professor and political analyst Alex Magaisa revealed the involvement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office in a tweet on Chin’ono’s latest arrest.
“Hopewell Chin’ono @daddyhope was arrested at his home this evening. I’m advised some of the officers claimed to be from the President’s office. One of the officers filmed the arrest. The arrest is allegedly in connection with tweets regarding the conduct of Chief Justice Malaba,” Magaisa tweeted.
The US Embassy Harare, which Mnangagwa’s government accuses of interference in the country’s affairs, immediately tweeted in support of Chin’ono, claiming he had been arrested for “speaking out against corruption and defending fundamental freedoms”.
The former leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party, Mmusi Maimane also condemned Chin’ono’s arrest and called on President Mnangagwa to release him.
Chin’ono is on bail in a matter pertaining to inciting violence ahead of an anti-Government protest that had been planned for July 31.
As part of his bail conditions, he was banned from social media. – Additional reporting by Herald.