A young couple from Beitbridge has been arrested after they forwarded a WhatsApp message which claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had died from Covid-19. The two will spend more than a month in remand prison after the Beitbridge Magistrates’ Court remanded their case to March 5, 2021.
iHarare has learned from state publication The Herald that 20-year-old Devine Panashe Maregere and his 20-year-old wife Vongai Nomatter Chiminya were arrested on Wednesday and charged with contravening section 31 (a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 (publishing or communicating false statement prejudicial to the State).
The young couple was arrested a few days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government warned people about publishing falsehoods.
Maregere and Chiminya appeared before Beitbridge resident magistrate Toyindepi Zhou who denied the couple bail and remanded them in custody to March 5.
According to the state’s case, on January 26, 2021, Chiminya received a WhatsApp voice message which was sent to the WhatsApp group ‘Ruwadzano Rwemadzimai’ which she is a member of.
The WhatsApp audio message falsely claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had died from Covid-19 related complications at 6:24 AM the previous day (Monday, January 25).
Chiminya is alleged to have forwarded the WhatsApp voice message to her husband. After receiving the message from his wife, Maregere also forwarded the voice message to another WhatsApp group called “Agents and Runners, Beitbridge.”
One of the members of the group showed the message to law enforcement officials which resulted in the arrest of the young couple. Chiminya and Maregere’s mobile phones were recovered by the police and will be used as evidence against them at trial.