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article imageZimbabwe police arrest child rights activist, popular TV host

By dpa news     Sep 1, 2007 in World
Harare - Police in Zimbabwe have arrested an award-winning child rights activist and a prominent talk show host after they broadcast interviews with child rape victims, reports said Friday.
Betty Makoni, the director of the Girl Child Network Trust, and television presenter Rebecca Chisamba were picked up by detectives on Thursday, the official Herald newspaper said.
The two women were arrested on allegations that they breached Zimbabwe's Child Protection and Adoption Act when eight rape survivors rescued by Makoni's organisation gave interviews on Chisamba's show.
Chisamba was released after providing police with a statement, while Makoni was still in custody on Thursday evening, the paper said.
A lawyer representing the two was not immediately available to comment.
Court official Idine Magonga accused the two of violating the justice system as some of the girl's rape cases are still before the courts.
"The fact that they brought them to the show as rape victims means that they are concluding that the eight children were raped," Magonga, the co-ordinator of the court's Victim Friendly Unit told the Herald.
"They obstructed justice," he charged.
Makoni is something of a national icon. She won the Global Friends Award and the World's Children's Award in April this year after being nominated by millions of children.
The activist says jealous people are behind her arrest, according to the Herald.
Ironically, as news that she had been picked up by police filtered out, Friday's letters column of another state-controlled paper featured a letter from school pupil Fenny Mangezi praising the activist.
"You have saved us from sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and verbal abuse," the pupil wrote in the Manica Post. "Clearly, Betty Makoni knows how to care and love the girl children."
Child sexual abuse is rampant in Zimbabwe. The scourge is fuelled partly by the myth that men infected with the AIDS virus can be cleansed of the virus by sleeping with a virgin.
This is the second time in a week that Makoni has been arrested, it emerged Friday.
Makoni was arrested last week on allegations of collaborating with two documentary filmmakers from the United States who were filming at one of her centres without accreditation from the government's media commission.
The two filmmakers were deported, while Makoni was released without charge. Investigations into that incident are continuing, said the Herald.
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