Two Bulawayo residents were arraigned before the courts, Monday, on allegations of sharing a fake press statement purportedly issued by President Emmerson Mnangagwa extending the lockdown to May 3.
Prisca Gumbo (44) of Mpopoma suburb and Renah Takudzwa Muhambi (21) allegedly forwarded the statement via their WhatsApp platforms to several contacts on their mobile phones.
Gumbo and Muhambi who appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Shepherd Munjanja, were charged with “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.”
The pair, both represented by Tinashe Runganga of Tanaka Law Chambers, were remanded to May 18.
Gumbo was freed on ZWL$1000 while Muhambi was ordered to pay ZWL$500.
State allegations, as presented by Carlington Dhliwayo, are that on April 7, Gumbo communicated a false press document purported to be issued and signed by Mnangagwa which was headlined “Extension of lockdown by 13 days only.”
Dhliwayo said Muhambi circulated the same statement on April 10 citing that the lockdown period would be extended from April 20 to May 3.
“The two, on separate occasions, disseminated the false document which was neither made nor signed by Mnangagwa through WhatsApp using their mobile phones,” said Dhliwayo.
“The police recovered Gumbo and Muhambi’s phones, with Econet lines together with the forwarded messages. There are also witnesses who received the document from both accused persons.”
The two are not the first people to be arrested over circulating the same statement.
Lovemore Zvokusekwa (36) of Chitungwiza appeared before a Harare Magistrates Courts on April 20 charged with fabricating and circulating the same statement.
Zvokusekwa was denied bail at the lower court but was granted one for ZWL$1 000 by High Court Judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu after spending 10 days in remand prison.