The Jeffrey Moyo saga: Details

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Crime & Courts, International, Local News | 0 comments

Brian Rungano Temba

On Monday May 31, this year, Jeffrey Moyo a 37-year-old freelance journalist who contributes content to the New York Times appeared before Bulawayo Magistrate Rachel Mukanga facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act.

He is jointly charged with Zimbabwe Media Commission staffer Thabang Manhika (35), who is stationed at the ZMC Rainbow Towers offices.
The two who are being accused of smuggling foreign journalists into the country to operate illegally and conniving to issue unauthentic documents to them, were denied bail on May 31.

Names of the American journalists are Elaine Goldbaum and Joao Silva from New York Times.
Moyo and Manhika are accused of violating Section 36 chapter 4:02 of the Immigration Act which criminalises anyone who,
“Commits fraudulent act or makes any false representation, by conduct, statement or otherwise, for purposes of facilitating or assisting the entry into or departure from Zimbabwe of himself or any other person, whether or not such person is capable of wrong, in contravention of the act.”

These charges are serious and might lend the two a 10 year jail sentence if they are found guilty.
Below is a sequence of events which led to the arrest of the duo, according to the prosecution in their case.

May 5, 2021
The two Goldbaum and Silva arrived at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo from South Africa. The two identified themselves as New York Times Journalists and state they were in Zimbabwe on business.
Moyo and Manhika travelled to Bulawayo to rendezvous with the foreigners and facilitate their entry into Zimbabwe using fake accreditation cards and receipts that Manhika had resourced using his access to ZMC where he was employed as a Registrar.

It was during the clearing process that Moyo and Manhika were interrogated by Immigration Officials at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and Jeffery Moyo stated that he was in fact the host for the two Americans, Goldbaum and Silva.
Moyo is said to have produced the fake ZMC accreditation cards to Immigration officials stating that the two foreigners were from New York Times and were accredited by ZMC.

Acting on this misrepresentation the Immigration officials granted Glodbaum and Silva seven days Business visas to conduct their business in the country.
It was after they had left that Immigration received information that Goldbaum and Silva were not accredited and that the accreditation card they had used were fake.

May 8, 2021
Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva were found at Meikles Hotel in Harare and were deported.
Moyo and Manhika were arrested after investigations that were established that the two Americans were not accredited.

The prosecution says it has overwhelming evidence on the case incriminating Moyo and Manhika, which includes copies of the fake accreditation cards, witnesses who will testify that Moyo and Manhika produced fake accreditation cards and the checks made with records and database of ZMC that revealed that Goldbaum and Silva were never accredited.

On May 28, 2021
Zimbabwe Media Commission whose roles include the accreditation of media personnel made a public statement on the Moyo and Manhika case. ZMC denied the presence of the two Americans in any of their records. Accreditation card numbers and receipt representing proof of payment were clear forgeries they added.

The Commission state in their press statement that prior the arrival of the two Americans, Goldbaum and Silva, as per legal requirement for foreign journalists had applied for clearance to work in the country buy the responsible authorities had denied their application.
Manhika was placed on leave to enable investigations to establish facts without his interference.

May 31, 2021
Moyo and Manhika appeared in court in Bulawayo before Magistrate Rachel Mukanga for their bail application that was denied.
The duo was represented by Amanda Ndlovu who stood in for their lawyer Doug Coltart from Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal practitioners.

Reasons for they bail application to be denied was that the accused persons are most likely to abscond considering the gravity of the offence and the sentence if convicted.

Another reason was that through the investigations made by the police it was deducted that the two were just part of a bigger syndicate that is still at large. If they were granted bail they would interfere with the evidence.
Their case is expected to be tried on June 10, 2021.

The Discourses surrounding the Case
New York Times has made articles responding to the case and how they feel the arrests are an attack on the freedom of the media in Zimbabwe. However they have not made any effort to explain why Goldbaum and Silva would accept forged accreditation cards from Moyo and Manhika while in full knowledge that their application to operate within Zimbabwe were denied by Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

They could have decided to deviate from their journalistic work and maybe engaged in acts of terror, who was going to account for rogue foreigners who are in the country under the authorities` radar?

American Embassy in Zimbabwe has also joined the discussion through their post on Twitter where they questioned the foundation of Zimbabwean Democracy pivoting on Moyo and Manhika’s bail denial.

The crimes that the duo are accused of are serious and carry heavy sentences is convicted, furthermore imply towards a disregard for national security.

The country waits to hear the outcomes in the ongoing court cases but freedom of expression as set out in Section 61 of the Zimbabwean constitution does not grant rights to smuggle foreign nationals.