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Sanef condemns arrest of Zambian Editor

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) strongly condemns the arrests on Thursday July 16 of Fred M’membe, the founder and editor-in chief of The Post newspaper in Lusaka, Zambia. M’membe was arrested together with journalist Mukosha Funga.
The police had also summoned a third reporter, Kombe Mataka, but she was not arrested due to her pregnancy. M’membe and Funga have been charged with publishing classified information, an act which allegedly violates the State Security Act. If convicted they could face a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
The charges relate to a story published by The Post in April 2015 quoting a confidential letter sent from the Director General of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission, Rosewin Wandi, to Zambian President Edgar Lungu. The letter informed the President that the commission was investigating his special assistant for political affairs, Kaizer Zulu. The police issued a warn and caution statement to the journalists on May 22.
As founder, owner and editor-in-chief of Zambia’s leading independent daily, M’membe has frequently faced legal harassment. The Post’s investigations into government corruption and abuses of power have led to the filing of more than 50 lawsuits against M’membe. He is a receipient of several awards for courage as a journalist.
M’membe and Funga have applied for bail and a decision is expected today Friday, July 17. Sanef is appalled that publication of information on an official investigation of possible corruption by a public servant close to the President can be misconstrued as an offence deserving of arrest, and calls on the Zambian government to repeal such draconian laws and set the two journalists free.
Mpumelelo Mkhabela, Sanef Chairperson 0822962541
Adriaan Basson, Sanef Media Freedom Committee chairman 0825622113
Raymond Louw, Sanef Media Freedom Committee Deputy Chairman, 011 646 8790