‘SA media demonising Zimbabwe’

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo said recently he was “deeply disappointed” by the tendency of South African media houses to target Zimbabweans as the main instigators of criminal activities in the country.

The ambassador’s complaints stem from recent reports regarding an armed robbery and shootout between police and robbers in Jeppestown three weeks ago, in which four policemen and 8 members of an armed gang were killed.

Media reports in the wake of the incident claimed that the 22-member gang, which was involved in a 6-hour shootout with police that resulted in the deaths, was largely comprised of Zimbabweans.

Follow-up reports by some newspapers in the country also claimed that the bulk of “Zimbabweans” involved in the crimes were former and current Zimbabwean soldiers that were resorting to the armed robberies due to the adverse economic situation in Zimbabwe.

A report in The Sunday Times recently ago also quoted security experts as saying that the only people who would be able to arrange and undertake the armed robberies that were gradually increasing in the country would need to have a military background or training.

However, Moyo shot back at the South African media houses, saying they were unfairly biased in their reporting on Zimbabwe.

He said the majority of the claims made by the South African Press, particularly in reports regarding the Jeppestown incident, were "unsubstantiated”.

“In an attempt to seek clarification on the veracity of these claims, the relevant authorities responsible for police in the province ( Gauteng) have expressed shock as well at these allegations which have ho basis in fact.

“I understand relevant heads have already met to address these false allegations,” the ambassador said in a statement.

He said reports that South African police officials visited Zimbabwe on a mission to investigate the botched heist and shootout were also false.

“The authorities confirm that South African Police Services enjoy excellent working relations with Interpol in Harare, contrary to claims that a SAPS team recently visited Zimbabwe and received no assistance from their counterparts.

“To the contrary, no SAPS delegation ever visited Zimbabwe in connection with the Jeppestown incident,” he said.

Ambassador Moyo accused some members of the South African Press of trying to develop a xenophobic culture to strain relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“Such futile effort will not succeed as the two countries and peoples enjoy excellent and cordial relations. We share a common liberation history, a common border, and common culture and indeed a common destiny.

“Simunye (we are one),” Moyo said.

The Zimbabwean ambassador has previously complained about the South African media’s “stereotyping” of Zimbabweans in that country as criminals, as well as the “generally negative” reporting about the situation in Zimbabwe and regarding relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“I am aware that the basis of all these efforts by the media to vilify and demonise the people of Zimbabwe and their leadership is the land reform programme.

“This is irreversible and indeed Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again. The policy is one farmer, one farm, black or white,” Moyo said

“The media must act responsibly at all times and avoid creating tensions between and among nations. After all journalism is meant to be a noble profession guided by ethics,” he added.

During his tenure, former Zimbabwe Information minister Jonathan Moyo also expressed similar concerns about the reporting of Zimbabwe in South Africa.

July 2006
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