High court sets free man imprisoned over “fake” Mnangagwa COVID-19 national lockdown extension statement

HIGH Court Judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu on Thursday 30 April 2020 ended the detention of Lovemore Zvokusekwa by granting him RTGS$1 000 bail after he was detained in prison for allegedly peddling falsehoods about President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s extension of the duration of the national lockdown period to May.

The 36 year-old Zvokusekwa of Chitungwiza petitioned the High Court
after he was denied bail by a Harare Magistrate on Monday 20 April
2020, when he appeared in court facing charges of publishing or
communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in
section 31(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Zvokusekwa, who was represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights and Thomas Machinga and Cecil Mutsvandiani, was
arrested on Saturday 18 April 2020 by Zimbabwe Republic Police
members, who accused him of peddling falsehoods when he reportedly
circulated a false and unsigned press statement purportedly written
and issued by President Mnangagwa titled “EXTENSION OF LOCKDOWN PERIOD
BY 13 DAYS ONLY” advising people that he had extended the national
lockdown period by 13 days from 20 April 2020 to 3 May 2020.

Zvokusekwa allegedly disseminated the false press statement on
different WhatsApp groups using his Huawei mobile phone handset and
yet President Mnangagwa had not written or signed the purported press

Apart from ordering Zvokusekwa to pay RTGS$1 000 as bail money,
Justice Manzunzu also ordered him to report once a week on Fridays at
Chitungwiza Police Station and to continue residing at his given
residential address.

He returns to court on 13 May 2020.

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