Nqobile Tshili and Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporters
THE Government has warned unruly elements sending subversive messages and threats on social media that they can be traced back to them and expose the culprits to the full wrath of the law.
Social media networks like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter have of late been awash with messages inciting violence.
Police have arrested 95 people in Harare, who will appear in court today for engaging in violence on Monday following incitement on social media.
A group calling itself Tajamuka is reportedly generating the messages, urging members of the public to engage in social unrest.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said the messages were a violation of the Postal and Telecommunications Act and those found on the wrong side of the law would be brought to book.
“It’s important for everybody to understand that anything you post on social media or over the top services can be traced back to who started them,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
“Therefore we warn people to be responsible and ensure that the messages that they send out will not find them foul of the law. We expect that people must be responsible when using social media. It must not be used to threaten other people or to send subversive messages.”
Minister Mandiwanzira said social media must be used for business, social interaction which does not threaten other people, their businesses or the State.
“We don’t want the few who abuse it to send revenge porn, child pornography, hate and violent messages to spoil the use of social media for the majority who use it positively,” he said.
According to Section 89 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, anyone who sends offensive, false, annoying, obscene or threatening message over a phone, is liable to a fine not exceeding level five ($200) or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Minister Mandiwanzira’s sentiments come after police issued a warning against social unrest saying they have deployed more officers on the ground to quell violence following skirmishes between touts and rank marshals and the police in Harare on Monday.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said police were aware of the identities of the people trying to cause commotion in the country.
She urged members of the public to continue with their business today saying the situation was under control.
Snr Ass Comm Charamba said citizens should not listen to statements peddled through the social media about the country’s so-called shut down. She said all those working today should report for duty without fail.
“Members of the public are advised to disregard the false messages circulating on social media which are circulating for example the one purporting that there is a curfew at 7PM July, 5 that is today (yesterday). Such mischievous people will be arrested,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“Please dismiss and ignore all such messages as they are meant to hoodwink you into believing that you should participate in illegal acts.”
She said those found with dangerous weapons will be arrested.
“Anyone found with offensive material or stone in their vehicles will be arrested and the police will impound such vehicles. Anyone found engaging in any form of violence and blocking of the roads will face full wrath of the law,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
She said police are on high alert to quell any form of violence as evidenced by the way they handled the chaos caused by kombi crews in Harare on Monday.