A Chitungwiza man who was arrested for spreading fake news on Monday appeared before a Harare magistrate and remanded in custody to May 13 with instructions to apply for bail at the High Court.
Lovemore Zvokusekwa (36) of House Number 7094 Unit J, Chitungwiza, who is employed by High Range Resources (Pvt) Ltd, appeared before magistrate Judith Taruvinga charged with publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.
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Zvokusekwa allegedly published a false Press statement purporting to have been issued and signed by the President, about two weeks ago.
The document, which claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had extended the initial 21-day lockdown period, was titled, “Extension of lockdown period by 13 days only”.
Speaking at his Precabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe, last week after returning from a tour of Mkoba and Senga suburbs in Gweru, President Mnangagwa said that he had not authored the document. He said:
I have never made such a statement and that social media statement is absolute nonsense. We now have a law which punishes those who produce fake news and I have ordered an investigation into those behind the fake statement and if found, we want that person to be an example by getting up to 20 years in prison. It’s bad to peddle falsehoods, especially about a President.
Propagating fake news on social media and mainstream media about the novel coronavirus has been categorised as a Level 14 offence.
A level 14 offence is the highest offence in the country and it attracts a 20-year jail term.