from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWEAN authorities have charged a man for allegedly peddling falsehoods about President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent extension of the duration of the national lockdown period against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Lovemore Zvokusekwa (aged 36) of Chitungwiza has appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court in the capital city where he has been charged with publishing or communicating false statements
prejudicial to the state as defined in section of the country’s Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
This is despite Mnangagwa indeed announcing the extension of the lockdown by a fortnight to the beginning of May. The lockdown was initially scheduled to end on Tuesday (today, April 21).
Zvokusekwa has been denied bail and will be kept in custody until his next appearance on May 13.
Members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested him on the country’s independence day on Saturday (April 18).
In court, prosecutors alleged that Zvokusekwa peddled falsehoods when he reportedly circulated a false and unsigned press statement purportedly written and issued by Mnangagwa.
Titled “Extension of Lockdown Period by 13 days only”, the statement allegedly advised of the extension of the lockdown, before the official announcement by the president.
The prosecution team charged that the suspect disseminated the unsigned, false press statement on different WhatsApp platforms.
Prosecutors said some witnesses who received the statement would testify against Zvokusekwa during his trial.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is representing the suspect.
Zimbabwe’s lockdown is aimed at curbing the COVID-19.
The Southern African country has confirmed 25 cases of the virus and three deaths to date.
It is feared the toll might be higher, as a result of few tests conducted.
– CAJ News