Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa has ruled that Night Shadaya Tawona (25) from Chitungwiza can change his plea to not guilty. Shadaya is facing charges of criminal insult after he allegedly retweeted a tweet from a parody account pretending to be Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba. The tweet in question said,
I can’t wait for the election fiasco to come to an end. I could do with a holiday and some good sex. My body needs a break.
Tawona initially pleaded guilty to the charges and told the court that he was drunk when he retweeted the offensive tweet. He apologised for the tweet and warned other people not to make the same mistake on social media platforms. However, before magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa could sentence him, Tawona received legal representation from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). His lawyer Noble Chinhanu told the court that Shadaya had pleaded guilty because he had been pressured to do so and because he was not aware of the elements of the case. He argued that Shadaya should not be charged with any crime as he had no intention to defame or insult Chigumba since he believed that the account was hers.
Chinhanu told the court,
My client genuinely believed that the account belonged to Chigumba at the time of retweeting and therefore did not impair the reputation of the complainant. She did that herself.
The matter was postponed to November 5 for trial.