Sunday Mail trio’s trial in false start

Sunday Mail trio’s trial in false start File pic: Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, reporters Brian Chitemba (in brown jacket) and Tinashe Farawo after being freed on bail at the Harare Magistrates’ Court

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
The trial of The Sunday Mail Editor Mabasa Sasa, Investigations Editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo — accused of publishing falsehoods —did not start yesterday as the prosecution failed to furnish them with State papers.

Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri insisted that she was ready to proceed to trial.

She accused Sasa, Chitemba and Farawo of deliberately stalling proceedings.

Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe adjourned the matter to March 8 to allow the trio access to the relevant court papers.

The trio is facing charges of communicating or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State and are on $100 bail each.

Sasa, Chitemba and Farawo were arrested following the publication of an article on November 1, 2015 which implicated some police officers, rangers from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and Asian nationals in poaching activities in Hwange.

Ms Mukumbiri alleged that following the killing of 22 elephants by poachers using suspected cyanide poison, the accused published a story, “Top cop fingered in poaching saga”.

It is alleged that the trio knew that no assistant commissioner of the police was being investigated for involvement in the poaching of the elephants nor had the Zimbabwe Republic Police made any arrest in connection with the crime.

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 court heard.

The trio is accused of publishing falsehoods that would adversely affect the tourism industry and the economy.

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