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Zimbabwe Court Orders Trial for NY Times Freelancer


FILE - Freelance journalist for the New York Times, Jeffery Moyo, poses for a photograph after his release from detention at the Bulawayo prison in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, June 16, 2021.

A court in Zimbabwe dismissed a discharge application Tuesday in a case against a New York Times journalist. Freelance journalist Jeffrey Moyo is accused of flouting Zimbabwe's immigration laws when he allegedly helped two foreign reporters enter the southern African nation illegally last year.

Kathleen Mpofu — one of Moyo's lawyers — said the journalist will go on trial April 28.

"The magistrate dismissed the application. He basically found that the state had led enough evidence for Mr. Moyo to be put to his defense and coming to this finding," Mpofu told VOA from Bulawayo, via WhatsApp. "It seems the magistrate relied on the fact that the state had led the evidence of the allegedly false accreditation cards that had been obtained by the foreign journalist and based on his interpretation of the evidence led by the state, he found that it was sufficient to put the accused to his defense."

Purity Moyo, her husband Jeffrey Moyo and attorney Kathleen Mpofu are seen at Bulawayo Magistrate Courts in Zimbabwe, March 15, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Moyo)
Purity Moyo, her husband Jeffrey Moyo and attorney Kathleen Mpofu are seen at Bulawayo Magistrate Courts in Zimbabwe, March 15, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Moyo)

Moyo's lawyers believed the case might be dismissed, after the same court earlier this month acquitted a Zimbabwe Media Commission official, Thabang Manhika, for allegedly processing fake accreditations for two South Africa-based New York Times journalists who entered Zimbabwe and were later deported. Moyo and Manhika were being tried separately.

Zimbabwe's government says both Moyo and Manhika broke immigration laws.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary Ndabaningi Nick Mangwana commented on Tuesday's ruling.

"We just want to see that there's law and order. If somebody has committed a crime or is perceived, they will have their day in court, so he is having his day in court, so his outcome is not in our hands, it's in the hands of the criminal justice system. That's our position," Mangwana said.

Tabani Moyo of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, or MISA, has called for the journalist to be treated fairly.

"MISA Zimbabwe underscores the need for fair trial. That is our position throughout till the end of the case. All we are saying is that he, just like any other citizen, deserves a fair trial," Moyo said.

Moyo, a Zimbabwean national, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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