THE trial of Zimbabwean freelance journalist Jeffrey Moyo kicked off at the Bulawayo magistrates’ court on Wednesday with three officials from the Zimbabwe Immigration department giving oral evidence.
The trial begins a day after Moyo’s legal team prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and Doug Coltart successfully requested he is tried separately from his co-accused Thabang Manhika, an employee of the Zimbabwe Medea Commission, a statutory body that accredits journalists.
This was after Manhika’s legal team, led by Lison Ncube sought an exception on Tuesday, saying the state outline and the charge sheet did not show that their client committed an offence and also that they were not given enough time to set up their defence.
As a result, Moyo separately appeared before regional magistrate Mark Dzira who remanded the case to tomorrow for the continuation of trial which is expected to continue till Friday where he is expected to issue a date of his ruling.
Moyo is facing charges of breaching sections of the Immigration Act in that he allegedly helped two American journalists Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva who work for the New York Times, to get into the country illegally.
During the trial, the three senior immigration officials were being cross-examined by Beatrice Mtetwa and prosecutor Acumen Khupe who is representing the State.
While giving oral evidence Bothwell Mapopoma, a principal immigration officer who is based in Harare told the court that he was responsible for taking the pictures of the copies of accreditation cards and receipts that the State says were fraudulently issued to the two foreign journalists by the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
The copies were shown as evidence in court.
Mtetwa immediately questioned the authenticity of the documents appealing to the State to seek the services of an expert to verify them, a move that was strongly resisted by the State. The case was adjourned to tomorrow (Thursday).
Moyo and Manhika were arrested last year and spent almost a month in remand prison before being granted bail.
Moyo’s detention received worldwide condemnation with the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressing concern over the continued harassment of journalists in Zimbabwe, which has acquired a reputation of media repression.