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Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal, who also covers Guinea Conakry, Mrs Trudy Stevenson, has written to the Daily News complaining about the paper’s false story early this month claiming that a Zimbabwean, Tarisai Gombakomba, recently died of Ebola in Guinea.

Despite pointing out the falsehoods, the Daily News has neither retracted its story, nor responded to Ms Stevenson.

Gombakomba was employed as a domestic worker by the World Health Organisation’s country representative in Guinea, Professor Oumou Younosa Sal.

In its story published under the headline: “Chaos as Ebola corpse lands in Harare” on the fifth of this month, the Daily News claimed that a medical report compiled by Harare City health department showed that Gombakomba’s likely cause of death was Ebola.

But it has since emerged that Gombakomba was suffering from Malaria and died after reacting to medication.

In a letter addressed to Daily News group editor Stanley Gama and copied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Friday, Mrs Stevenson said the story written by the paper’s political editor Thelma Chikwanha showed lack of basic journalistic investigations.

She said the Daily News had not only traumatised the Gombakomba family by its false report, but the repercussions were being felt the world over.

“As your ambassador covering Guinea Conakry, I write to complain in the gest terms about your article by your political editor Thelma Chikwanha,” she said.

“Had Ms Chikwanha bothered to check her facts by contacting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which through our embassy, provided logistical aice and assistance to the Gombakomba family who, as our nationals, we are duty bound to assist, she would have been informed correctly.

“In the apparent absence of any such basic journalistic investigation, she wrote an article which is not only inaccurate in almost every sensational detail, but has also caused unimaginable pain and anguish to a family already traumatised and grieving over the loss of their loved one.”

Mrs Stevenson said the World Health Organisation does not allow repatriation of a body without strict international procedure being carried out.

She said to suggest that such procedures were not followed in the repatriation of Gombakomba’s body was an insult to the government of Guinea, WHO and the Zimbabwean embassy which helped repatriate the body.

Mrs Stevenson said the story had also offended Mr Sal who spent almost $25 000 towards the repatriation of Gombakomba’s body.

Gama accused Mrs Stevenson of failing to understand the story.

“I do not know what Trudy is talking about,” he said in an interview. “She probably was merely told about the story, but did not read it because if she did she could have clearly understood the facts. I urge you to read the story carefully line by line what we reported about on Ebola — the arrival of the body and the burial, who we quoted and what we quoted. Beyond that I have nothing to say.”

Source : The Herald