A Photoshopped nude picture of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa shared on WhatsApp has landed a husband and wife in trouble.
Sarudzayi Ambiri Jani, 38, and Remember Simbarashe Ncube, 34, were arrested and charged on Friday with undermining the authority of or insulting the president in contravention of the Criminal Law Act.
Law enforcement agents who arrested the couple claimed that they made an abusive, indecent or obscene statement about Mnangagwa that may engender feelings of hostility towards him, with the knowledge that the statement is false.
The couple allegedly shared a nude picture of Mnangagwa wearing Zanu-PF regalia around his neck with a male organ adorned with a mask at its end on a WhatsApp group for residents in Ward 3 of Beitbridge.
Chief Inspector Kenneth Mushongahande of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, who is a member of the residents’ WhatsApp group, reported the couple to law enforcement agents, who arrested and detained them overnight at Beitbridge Urban Police Station.
Mushongahande said police officers “hunted” and arrested the couple, who had no right to publish the Photoshopped picture.
Takavingei Mahachi, the councillor for Ward 3 in Beitbridge, who created the residents’ WhatsApp group, will testify as a state witness when the trial of the couple commences on July 3.
The couple also face a charge of contravening the Censorship and Entertainments Act, which criminalises the production and publishing of certain material.
They face up to a year in prison.
Observers and government critics have expressed concern at the increase in the number of people who of late are being persecuted for dissent and expressing themselves on social media platforms.
Home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe has accused opposition political party leaders, former ruling party members and some civil society organisations of plotting to topple the president, who seized power from Robert Mugabe through a coup in November 2017.