Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. The 89 year-old leader was last seen in public last month when he left the country for the Far East with his family. PHOTO/FILE
By Kitsepile Nyathi
Harare Saturday, January 18, 2014
Zimbabwean teenager has been arrested over a Facebook post claiming President Robert Mugabe is dead and is being kept in a freezer, lawyers said on Saturday.
Eighteen year-old Gumisai Manduwa was arrested last Thursday and charged with insulting President Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said Manduwa spent two days in police custody before he was granted bail by a Mutare court on Saturday.
“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,” ZLHR said in a statement Saturday.
The government last week had to move in to quell speculation that President Mugabe who is on annual leave is ill.
The 89 year-old leader was last seen in public last month when he left the country for the Far East with his family.
He reportedly returned home on January 10 but state media used old pictures to accompany the story announcing his return.
ZLHR last week said at least 80 people have been dragged to court for insulting President Mugabe since 2010.
Manduwa becomes the second person to be arrested over a Facebook post in Zimbabwe.
Emulate the people of Egypt
In 2011, Vikas Mavhudzi had charges against him dropped after he allegedly wrote on former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Facebook page urging Zimbabweans to emulate the people of Egypt who had just overthrown long time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Prosecutors failed to produce evidence linking Mavhudzi to the alleged crime.
Last year the Constitutional Court ruled that the insult laws that have been routinely used to arrest people for allegedly insulting and undermining the authority of President Mugabe were unconstitutional.
The judges in their ruling noted that people were being arrested for saying this in bars that unnecessarily end up in the public domain.
Judges said the cases actually undermined the president’s office.