On April 16, 2012, the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the southern border town of Beitbridge arrested Robin Hammond, a freelance photojournalist with dual U.K. and New Zealand citizenship, as he reported on migration between Zimbabwe and neighboring South Africa, government-controlled state daily The Herald reported.
Thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing the political and economic crisis in their country have crossed illegally into South Africa, according to U.N. data. Lawrence Chinhengo, the chief superintendent of the local police, told the newspaper that authorities arrested Hammond along with his companion, Berta Chiguvare, an employee of a South Africa-based non-governmental organization, and confiscated photo and video recordings.
Chiguvare was released without charge, but on April 20, 2012, Beitbridge Magistrate Carrington Karidzagundi convicted Hammond of contravening the Protected Places and Areas Act, a security law that criminalizes the filming of landmarks or public buildings the government deems sensitive. He was sentenced to a fine of US$150, The Herald reported. Hammond paid the fine, but was returned to prison after immigration authorities filed a deportation order against him, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told CPJ.
On May 4, Hammond was transferred from Beitbridge to the capital Harare. He was deported May 10.
Hammond has won awards for his reports on human rights and environmental issues around the world, including in Zimbabwe, according to his website and Panos, which represents him.