Zim supermarket at centre of storm over ex-newscaster's arrest

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Harare - A leading supermarket in Zimbabwe has found itself at the centre of a social media storm over the way it handled the arrest of a former news anchor who was caught shoplifting, but later found to have a mild form of dementia.

Dave Emberton, who was a familiar face to many Zimbabweans from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's evening TV news bulletin, was handcuffed after security guards saw that he had not paid for a packet of bacon in a Spar Zimbabwe store in Harare last week. 

Spar Zimbabwe went on to post a video to Facebook, apologising for the incident and saying that externally-contracted security guards at the Letombo store had handled the incident "in not a good way".

In the clip, Spar Zimbabwe's managing director Terrance Yeatman said 68-year-old Emberton had been given lunch by the store. 

UK visa

He went on to appeal for support for the former newscaster, who would like to settle in the UK, but cannot obtain a visa for his Zimbabwean wife.

Many of those who viewed the video were shocked at the obvious frailty of Emberton and felt that filming him in this way was unfair. He'd also been photographed on the day of his arrest, handcuffed and sitting on the floor, clearly confused - though that photo did not come from Spar.

There were also suspicions that a black shoplifter with a similar condition might not have got the same treatment.

"Well done Spar! But somebody is right to wonder aloud if a black man would have gotten similar treatment," reads a post on the Zimbabwe Today FB page. 

"When a white man is reduced to this it is seen as a crisis," a blogger wrote on FB. There were similar comments on Twitter.

The clip is no longer available on Spar Zimbabwe's FB page.

In a piece published by Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette on Monday, Emberton's wife Melody was quoted as saying the British embassy had been in touch following the video.

Emberton only stopped working at ZBC last year and had been with the state broadcaster for more than four decades. 

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