Journalist beaten by British envoy’s aides

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British Ambassador Mrs Catriona Laing’s visit to Kariba ended abruptly on Wednesday morning after her aides allegedly assaulted a Kariba-based freelance journalist.IMG_8860+(1)

Mrs Laing arrived in Kariba on Tuesday and reportedly held a meeting with some non-governmental organisations representatives in the dead of the night.

The agenda of the meeting was not immediately confirmed, but sources said it was aimed at getting information on the needs of NGOs in the town and surrounding areas to effectively complement the efforts of anti-government protesters.

This is said to be part of an elaborate plan that will see NGOs in remote areas giving feedback on their limitations and possible assistance they need when protests occur.

The journalist, Edmore Mbonda got to the hotel where the ambassador and her entourage were booked and sought clearance from one of her aides who consented.

“I got to the hotel around 7am after picking information that the ambassador was in town. I wanted to ask her questions and therefore made an appointment with one of the aides. He told me that the ambassador was having tea so I waited near her room,” said Mr Mbonda.

However, two men reportedly came and ordered him to leave despite protestations that he had been cleared for an interview by one of the aides.

The men allegedly told Mbonda that the visit did not need media coverage before ordering him to leave. One of them manhandled him and pushed him away before the other one kicked him on his right leg causing him to fall.

“I immediately got up and started running for dear life after realising that they could inflict more harm,” said Mr Mbonda.

“I returned about an hour later, but was told that they had already checked out of the hotel.”

Mr Mbonda went to the clinic yesterday complaining of pain in his leg and arm.

The ambassador, according to sources in the NGO sector was scheduled to meet them later on Wednesday afternoon.

Said a source: “We were asked to present current challenges hampering active participation in any anti-government demonstration considering that small towns and outlying areas did not participate.”

Participants are said to have indicated that they needed communication technology such as internet access, laptops and vehicles among other things.

The move is aimed at ensuring that demonstrations are spontaneous thereby rendering the country ungovernable.

Kariba was found to have a disorganised NGO sector that dealt with “soft” issues and would not help the regime change agenda, said the source.

A report of the assault was made to the police who said consultations are underway to find the way forward.

Although confirming that Ambassador Laing was in Kariba on Tuesday and Wednesday, the British Embassy dismissed the allegations as fictitious arguing that the ambassador does not have aides or bodyguards.

“This is ridiculous, the ambassador does not have security details. This is a fabrication,” said embassy communications officer Ms Busi Ndlovu yesterday.

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