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Editor receives envelope containing bullet
February 01, 2007

Bill Saidi, the acting editor of the privately-owned The Standard on 31 January 2007 received a brown envelope containing a bullet and a threatening message warning him to "watch out".

Iden Wetherell the Projects Editor of Zimind Publishers which publishes The Independent and The Standard, confirmed the incident to MISA-Zimbabwe on 1 February 2007 saying a report had already been made to the police. Saidi could not be immediately contacted for comment.

"We take these threats very seriously and we have made a report to the police. We do not know who is responsible," said Wetherell. The envelope also contained a press cutting of a cartoon that was carried by The Standard in its edition of 28 January 2007 and a message which read: "Watch out Mr Editor."

The cartoon was an illustration of baboons having a good laugh after picking a payslip belonging to soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army who are reportedly lowly paid.

The cartoon followed a story carried by the paper in recent weeks revealing that there had been mass resignations and desertions from the armed forces as a result of poor pay and working conditions.The paper said many soldiers quitting the army had sought employment in neighbouring countries and others vanished without a trace into the countryside.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the online NewZimbabwean which publishes in London, Saidi said he had "no clue" as to who had sent the envelope.

"We are still trying to make a full and comprehensive report about this incident. We also hope to get the police involved shortly," he said by telephone from Harare late Wednesday.

He said: "I opened the envelope. My initial reaction was that it was somebody trying to pull a prank on us, or seriously warning us about something.

"I am not scared. I just feel this is a situation which puts the country in bad light suggests the level of intolerance has risen."

Saidi, a former assistant editor with The Daily News, which is now banned, said his experience was that "people who want to do such things usually don't give a warning; they just go ahead and do it".

He said: "When The Daily News printing press was bombed, there was no warning. We also didn't get a warning when a bomb exploded just below the editor's office." No arrests have been made since the bombing of the printing press in January 2001.

Saidi said newspapers in Africa "make a lot of enemies", and the bullet could have been sent by someone "taking action to warn us".

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