Clueless police give up on Facebook case

Zimbabwe’s first ever Facebook case is turning into a comic. Vikas Mavhudzi is being charged for using the social network site to encourage an insurgency against President Robert Mugabe.

The following message allegedly posted on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s page by Mavhudzi in February landed the Magwegwe man in court: “I’m overwhelmed, don’t know what to say Mr PM. What happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to all dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose. Worth emulating, hey.”

The message, allegedly posted via Mahvudzi’s cellphone, is the prosecution’s smoking gun in this case. The 39-year-old is being charged with subversion after allegedly suggesting that Tsvangirai should emulate events in Egypt that saw long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak fall to a popular street revolt.

Yet, as prosecutors stepped into court last Tuesday, they had no idea how to trace the message. Information technology experts at the Bulawayo Central Police Station, who have been cracking Mavhudzi’s cell phone to retrieve the message, reported that they had failed.

At least the police are candid about their failure. What has miffed defence lawyer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is the prosecution’s cockiness, even when faced with such a dead end. Instead of withdrawing charges, prosecutors are pressing on.

At Bulawayo Magistrates Court last week, the only exhibit that the State could show in court was the mobile handset allegedly used by the Magwegwe resident to post the message. This compelled Jamela to file an application before Magistrate Rose Dube to oblige the State to furnish him with the alleged message from the phone in order for his client to be afforded a fair trial on Monday when trial resumes.

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