Zambian ‘Watchdog’ journalists to appear in court

Freelance journalist, Wilson Pondamali and media scholar, Clayson Hamasaka, are scheduled to re-appear in court within five days of each other, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has learnt.

Pondamali will appear before Kabwe Resident Magistrate, Mary Simpungwe, on Wednesday, 21 August while Hamasaka will make his court appearance on Monday, 26 August before a different magistrate.

The two are suspected of having have links to the Zambian Watchdog, a popular news website whose access in Zambia has since been blocked by authorities. Another news website, Zambia Reports, has also been blocked.

The charges both journalists are facing, however, seem to have no direct link to the news website in question.

Pondamali is accused of being in unlawful possession of a municipality book and some military stores.

His 21 August court appearance follows one on Thursday, 15 August which failed to take off as the prosecution was reportedly not ready to commence without instruction from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mutembo Nchito.

Hamasaka, who is accused of being in possession of obscene material finds himself in a similar scenario. He appeared in court on Monday, 12 August but the State appeared not ready to continue, resulting in the failure of the case to proceed. It is hoped that when the matter resumes on 26 August, the State will be ready. Meanwhile, the media scholar and journalist confirmed to MISA that his bail has been extended.

No information regarding the court appearance of a third journalist in the ‘Watchdog’ saga, Thomas Zyambo, has yet been gathered.

MISA continues to monitor the situation in Zambia.

For queries or comments, please contact:

Jane Chirwa, MISA-Zambia Information & Research Officer Email: jane@misazambia.org.zm
OR Levi Kabwato, MISA Programme Specialist: Media Freedom Monitoring & Research Email: levi@misa.org. 

* Source: MISA Zambia Alert-Update, Tuesday, 20 August 2013

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