In the first case of its kind, a Harare man has been taken to court for disclosing another person’s Covid-19 positive status on a WhatsApp group in contravention of the Public Health Act, which provides for patient confidentiality.
Jimmy Mhlanga (40), who resides at 41 Divaris Flats, Bluffhill, is employed by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and is stationed at its Eastlea Depot.
He appeared before magistrate Mrs Barbra Mateko on Saturday charged with contravening section 39(2) as read with section (3) of the Public Health Act, chapter 15:17 “disclosing information relating to one’s health status, treatment or stay in health establishment.”
He was granted $500 bail and would be back in court on June 4 for his routine remand.
According to the prosecution led by Mr Terence Mashaire, Mhlanga reportedly used his mobile phone to disclose the positive status of a Covid-19 patient, her particulars and also revealed details of police members suspected to have made contact with the patient on a WhatsApp platform group named ‘Think Tank No under 18.’
Mhlanga reportedly disclosed the information without the consent or authority of the patient, the court heard. It is the state’s case that the cellphone used to commit the crime was recovered from him, while the WhatsApp message was also found in his cellphone and is being held as an exhibit.
According to the state, members of the group who received the said message will be called as state witnesses.