Read time: 3 minutes

Zimbabwean boy arrested for ‘Mugabe is dead’ Facebook post

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 20 Jan 2014

Zimbabwean boy arrested for ‘Mugabe is dead’ Facebook post

Zimbabwean authorities have charged a teenage boy for insulting President Robert Mugabe after the child posted on Facebook that the ageing leader ‘had died and was being preserved in a freezer’.

Speculation has been rife on social networks alleging that Mugabe, who turns 90 next month, had died. This was precipitated by a lengthy absence by Mugabe from public appearances.

However, Mugabe’s spokesperson explained that the Zimbabwean president is on his annual leave which he takes in January. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean leader has also reportedly been spotted at the country’s ‘State House’ on the weekend attending a memorial service for his younger sister, Bridgette Mugabe, who died at the weekend after four years in coma.

And regarding the boy’s Facebook post, police subsequently picked up the teenager, Gumisai Manduwa, on Thursday last week in the Manicaland provincial district of Odzi.

It was alleged that Manduwa had written a post on his Facebook account saying Mugabe had died and was being preserved in a freezer.

He was charged under contentious laws saying citizens are not allowed to insult the country’s president.

"The teenager was freed on bail on Saturday morning after lawyers from ZLHR intervened to secure his release. He was granted $30 bail by Mutare Magistrate Sekesai Chiwundura," the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said in a statement.

The human rights lawyers group said the teenager was held in detention for two nights at Odzi Police Station. He was subsequently transferred to Mutare Central Police Station pending his appearance in court on Saturday, adds the statement.

“In Zimbabwe, insult laws have been routinely used to arrest and detain dozens of people for allegedly insulting and undermining the authority of the Zanu PF leader. More than 80 similar cases are pending before the Constitutional Court and other subsidiary courts of the land,” ZLHR said.

In 2010, Zimbabwe passed the controversial Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) under which several people have been charged for insulting the Zimbabwean leader.

In 2011, a case against Vikas Mavhudzi -- who is alleged to have posted subversive material on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Facebook account saying he should emulate protests which toppled the government in Egypt during the Arab uprising -- was dropped by a magistrate in Zimbabwe’s second biggest city, Bulawayo.

The case was dropped after state prosecutors and the police failed to retrieve the offending Facebook message he is alleged to have posted.

President Robert Mugabe has been at the helm of Zimbabwean politics since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Read more
Daily newsletter