A 36-year old Chitungwiza man appeared in court on Monday, answering to charges of “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state” as defined by Criminal Law( Codification and Reform) Act.
Lovemore Zvokusekwa, an engineer by proffession, was nabbed for allegedly creating and peddling fake Covid-19 news, wherein he is said to have authored a fake statement and attributed it to President Mnangagwa.
He falsely stated that Mnangagwa had extended the 21-day national lockdown by thirteen days.
Mnangagwa was not amused and he made it clear that the perpetrator would face at least 20 years in jail since the offence was classified as Level 14.
“We need to demonstrate that we don’t want false news to be circulated,” he warned.
It is the State’s case that Zvokusekwa originated and distributed the statement using his cellphone, a Huawei 6 Pro, the serial and phone numbers of which were supplied in court. The police in their affidavit claim that they traced some of the recipients — who have since turned state witness — and also found fake statements on the phone.
Zvokusekwa was remanded in custody to May 13. If found guilty, he faces a maximum of 20 years in jail after Zimbabwe last month published lockdown regulations that include jail terms for spreading falsehoods about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, scores of human rights lawyers have offered their services challenging the constitutionality of the matter.