Former ITV News journalist facing trial in Zimbabwe forced to appear in court despite suffering coronavirus symptoms

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rohit Kachroo

A prominent anti-corruption journalist is to appear in court in Zimbabwe despite showing coronavirus symptoms.

Hopewell Chin'ono, who has worked with ITV News in the past, was arrested in July after exposing government corruption.

His lawyers ware waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test after his health worsened in the past few days.

Mr Chin'ono arrived at the court building on Tuesday, despite not knowing the results of his test.

He arrived in chains.

Outside court Mr Chin'ono said: "My doctor said I shouldn't come.

"I got a coronavirus test done yesterday but the prison services forced me to come against my doctor's advice.

Speaking about how he was, he said: "I've got a fever, I'm not well but I've been forced to come to court."

Mr Chin’ono is a well-known journalist who has a huge following on Twitter, where he regularly posts about alleged government corruption.His account has since been deleted.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival to power after the fall of Robert Mugabe inspired hope that he might bring an end to the use of dark tactics to silence critics.

Hopewell Chin'ono Credit: ITV

Opponents of the government say nothing has changed and Mr Chin'ono's arrest is punishment from the leaders of the country for his reporting on the president.The government is using similar tactics used under former president Mugabe and trying to claim other countries are trying to interfere with its internal issues.

Zimbabwe government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said: "I would say that the so-called international community has been interfering in Zimbabwe's judicial system and in the Hopewell case in particular, they are interfering.

"The Zimbabwean government is enforcing its law is governing and they are interfering” 

Last month the British Embassy in Zimbabwe said: “We note with concern that Hopewell Chingono has once again been denied bail.

"We urge authorities to respect and not compromise the rights to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly during this Covid-19 pandemic.”

Anti-government sentiment in Zimbabwe is on the rise, with the economy in freefall and a growing food crisis.

Protests are currently banned as part of the government's coronavirus containment measures but critics have said the countries leaders are more interested in curbing unrest rather than Covid-19.