After being found guilty of communicating falsehoods, Fadzai Mahere, the spokesperson for the CITIZENS Coalition for Change, has been sentenced to either a three-month jail term or a fine of US$500. The conviction came after Mahere posted tweets accusing the police of beating a child to death with a baton stick.
Mahere argued during her trial that her tweet was based on a video she saw of a motionless child and a crowd claiming that the police had killed the infant. However, the court dismissed her claims as reckless and unreasonable.
Moreover, the court found that Mahere’s statements contradicted the facts, as the child was treated for injuries caused by shattered window glass and was discharged from the hospital on the same day. The court further emphasized that Mahere, being an advocate with considerable experience in the legal field, was expected to verify facts before sharing them on Twitter. The court also ruled that Mahere’s comments about the police force having violence in its DNA had damaged the reputation of the police force.
Although Mahere was acquitted of the incitement to public violence charge, she still faced two counts of communicating falsehoods. The court sentenced her to a jail term of three months or a fine of US$500, taking into account that she was a first-time offender.
This verdict should serve as a warning to social media users to fact-check their posts, particularly when discussing sensitive and controversial topics.