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Court sets judgement date for Mahere’s dead baby tweet

Fadzayi Mahere

Court sets judgement date for Mahere’s dead baby tweet. Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere winded up her defence case Wednesday when police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi was called in to give his testimony. “We closed the defense case today. Judgment will be handed down on 24 March at 2.15pm.

Mahere, in court for allegedly publishing falsehoods, will know her fate March 24 when presiding magistrate Taurai Munuwere hands down judgement in the matter. “I really want to thank my legal team, Mr David Drury & Mr Chris Mhike for their stellar representation. I’m eternally grateful,” Mahere said Wednesday.

Accusations against the opposition official arise from a video that went viral in 2020 showing a wailing woman who was tussling with a uniformed police officer claiming the operative had killed her baby. Mahere, through her Twitter handle, allegedly relayed the claims that police had killed the infant, something that was later dismissed as untrue by police.

Several news outlets also reported the incident claiming an overzealous police officer who was enforcing the country’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations at an illegal bus stop along Harare’s Second Street Extension had accidentally struck and killed the infant with a baton stick.

However, police were quick to accuse Mahere of publishing falsehoods through her Twitter claims. Nyathi, as police spokesperson, issued a statement confirming a “fracas” had indeed taken place while also promising to bring to book the errant police officers. Prosecutors had refused to accept a statement by Nyathi confirming the assault.

The statement in question was issued two days after the incident took place before the ZRP made a U-turn refuting the claim while saying the child at the centre of the storm was alive. While testifying on Wednesday Nyathi said after the video went viral, Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga ordered investigations.

While under cross examination by the prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa, Nyathi said the tweet by Mahere was false, adding that he personally verified that when the mother of the child and the infant came to the police sometime after the incident.

Nyathi said after Mahere’s tweet, there was “total chaos” in the country as citizens were made to believe false claims that police officers had killed an innocent child. “There was total chaos because of this false information. Even senior government officials were asking why this had happened.

“ZRP is a public institution where if anything happens, when the public are not clear, they can check with station commanders to check if what is circulated is true or false,” Nyathi said.

Mahere denies the allegations. She said what she tweeted was based on a video which went viral on social media arguing she could not be blamed for that. Mahere also stated that the investigating officer confirmed that several media outlets also wrote the baby had died guided by the same footage.

Appearing for the state, Sheila Mupindu quizzed the opposition politician why she failed to verify claims of the child’s purported death before posting falsehood on a platform accessible to a wide audience.

In her response, Mahere said she had no reason to do so as what she witnessed on the video was self-explanatory. She also said she never undermined the police but encouraged them to uphold the constitutional rights of ordinary citizens.

Mahere also told court that when she said “rogue policing must fall”, she meant that any unconstitutional use of force by police officers should come to an end.

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