Thursday, May 30, 2024

Journalist finally granted bail, released from police custody

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A few days after the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) called on Zambian police authorities to release freelance journalist, Wilson Pondamali, from jail, the scribe has been granted bail.

A magistrate in Kabwe on 31 July 2013 ordered Pondamali’s release.

The journalist, who spent almost a week in hospital, where he was chained to his bed, has now been reunited with his family. Speaking to MISA, Pondamali said he still was not feeling well but was relieved to be home.

He is suspected of having links with the Zambian Watchdog, an online publication that has drawn the ire of president Michael Sata’s government. Access to the website is currently restricted in Zambia. Another website, Zambia Reports, has also been blocked.

Pondamali is facing four charges, ranging from unlawful possession of military stores to attempt to escape from lawful custody. He will appear in court sometime in October to answer some of the charges.

In a statement released at the end of its regional annual general meeting, MISA expressed “grave concern over the escalation in cases of media freedom and freedom of expression violations across the SADC region, including restrictions on access to information.”

“In particular,” the statement said, “we strongly condemn the continued detention of Wilson Pondamali. We demand his immediate release to allow the legal process to take its course.”

Two other journalists, Thomas Zyambo and Clayson Hamasaka have also been arrested and charged by police on suspicion of having links with the Zambian Watchdog. Zyambo is facing a charge of sedition while Hamasaka was, on 29 July 2013, charged with being in passion of obscene material. The two will appear in court this month.

In an interview with MISA-Zambia, Zyambo said he is scheduled to appear in court on 6 August 2013. The police informed Zyambo about his impending appearance in court when the journalist was recently called back for further questioning at police headquarters. Zyambo also said he was asked to rewrite a document police suspect was initially authored by him but he refused.

Meanwhile, Hamasaka told MISA-Zambia that he is scheduled to appear in court on 12 August 2013. He was ordered to surrender his passport as part of the bail condition. The journalist and media scholar said police had failed to show him the obscene material they allege was found on his computers.

All three journalists had their computers and other digital equipment confiscated by police in separate raids on their houses.

MISA continues to monitor the situation in Zambia.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thats good news, only hope he will live longer, one cant help but be a little paranoid,you can later come to hear that he’s been Embalmed!

  2. The problem with ZWD is they only report negatively to the government. is it possible that since PF won the democratic 2011 election has never done any good things to the Zambian people? Do not go into business with the ill intention like ZWD. Shame on them for felling to uphold the journalism ethics. I can only give credit to Lusaka times and the Tumfweko on their balanced reporting.

  3. Good move. Now court cases await so he can explain how he got military classified material in his possession.

  4. Lets hope he has been embalmed. Misa ,must be id iots. With u even if ka journalist is has broken the law he must be let free in the name of press freedom. Useless misa

  5. As a media practitioner I can confidently say that the ZWD style of reporting is an embarrassment to journalist professionalism. If they are genuine, why do they hide their identities? There is a difference between reporting facts and attempting to manage perception. Even when they report something factual they still want to suggest t the reader how to interpret the article, i.e opinionated presentation, not to mention rude and cheeky language. The fact that one can be anonymous on the internet should not be abused, especially not by professionals who’s job it is to be custodians of truth.

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