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SANEF calls on Zimbabwean authorities to free jailed New York Times freelance journalist and condemns the deportation of his two colleagues.

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) supports an urgent call by the Committee to Protect Journalists for Zimbabwean authorities to free jailed New York Times freelance journalist Jeffrey Moyo, and condemns the deportation of his two colleagues, Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva.

The deportation and arrests raise the alarm about ongoing media freedom violations in Zimbabwe.

Moyo was arrested on  May 26 in Harare, and charged with violating Section 36 of the Immigration Act for alleged misrepresentations to officials about the accreditation status of Goldbaum and Silva, according to the CPJ, which spoke to Moyo’s lawyer, Doug Coltart in Zimbabwe.

The two New York Times journalists arrived in the country from South Africa on May 5, and were deported three days later, allegedly because they did not have proper accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, said that Moyo should never have been detained, let alone charged.  “The fact that he was arrested, and his New York Times colleagues forced to leave the country, shows that Zimbabwe continues to violate the right to press freedom and the public’s right to know,” she said.

The CPJ reported that the New York Times was assisting Moyo’s lawyers to secure his release. “Jeffrey is a widely respected journalist with many years of reporting experience in Zimbabwe and his detainment raises troubling questions about the state of press freedom in Zimbabwe,” said New York Times spokesperson Nicole Taylor.

Moyo also freelances for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and Norway’s Bistandsaktuelt.

Silva is an acclaimed South African photojournalist who has been working for the New York Times for several years.

Moyo has been incarcerated at a Bulawayo prison over the weekend pending a bail application ruling due on Monday, according to reports. He had been transferred from Harare to appear in a Bulawayo magistrate’s court with a co-accused, Zimbabwe Media Commission official Thabang Manhika.

In a statement posted on Facebook and emailed to CPJ after publication, the Zimbabwe Media Commission alleged that two individuals “claiming to be New York Times reporters” had been deported after having obtained “forged” accreditation from “a properly accredited local reporter for the same New York Times with the alleged collusion of a ZMC member of staff.”

Coltart said Moyo had denied allegations of faking accreditation details. The CPJ has described the charges as baseless.

These latest incidents follow the harassment of prominent journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono, who was arrested and charged three times within 6 months last year. Chin’ono has appeared frequently in court this year, fighting numerous contempt and incitement court battles. He says that he is being persecuted for his role in uncovering corruption in the acquisition of Covid-19 medical supplies.

Sanef also notes with concern the statement by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which, in marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3, noted that there had been seven attacks on journalists by state security agents in Zimbabwe this year. In 2020, 52 cases of attacks on journalists were recorded.

Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information please contact:

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415

Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113

Mahlatse Mahlase – Secretary General (083) 399-2852

Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972

Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374

Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022

Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za