Government yesterday fired warning shots against social media abuse when a Harare magistrate convicted a local man on criminal insult charge for retweeting a message besmirching the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba in the aftermath of the hotly-contested July 30 elections.
Night Tawona Shadaya, 25, appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa yesterday on allegations of breaching section 95 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).
Sentencing is expected today.
Shadaya told the court that he was intoxicated when he committed the offence and pleaded for Mugwagwa’s lenience.
“I didn’t mean to cause harm, I was tipsy when I retweeted the message and only realised the following day the mistake I did.
“I immediately took down the tweet to correct my mistake. I even apologised on all social media platforms and also on a local radio station in an interview,’ he told the court.
The 25-year-old had argued that he was not in his right senses when he committed the offence, and that it was not intentional.
He pleaded for the court’s lenience saying he was not employed and lived off his mother.
Mugwagwa inquired how much alcohol Shadaya had taken which made him “lose” his senses.
Shadaya said he had taken three quarts of black label larger.
“So, you mean that you took only three quarts of black label and lost your senses?” questioned Mugwagwa.
“lt’s usually two,” answered Shadaya.
The bogus tweet which was circulated by Shadaya purported to be from Chigumba’s account read: “I can’t wait for the election fiasco to come to an end. I could do with a holiday and some good se_x. My body needs a break.”
Shadaya popularly known for Whatsapp memes got arrested following a report to the police by Chigumba who said she did not own a twitter account.
On July 30, millions of Zimbabweans cast their votes to elect a new president and Parliament but the national harmonised elections were marred by allegations of ballot cheating which led to a heavily contested outcome by the opposition.
Chigumba was subjected to social media abuse and harassment by people who accused Zec of bias towards Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the run up to the July 30 vote.