'Charamba an idiot' cop acquitted

HARARE - A cop who was dragged to court after writing in a WhatsApp message that national police spokesperson Charity Charamba was an “idiot” has been acquitted.

James Mabasa, 38, was facing charges of contravening the Post and Telecommunications Act by sending offensive messages over the phone and obstructing the course of justice.

Harare magistrate Josephine Sande granted an application for discharge at the close of State’s case filed by Mabasa’s lawyer Arshiel Mugiya.

She ruled that prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Mabasa and no reasonable court could sustain a conviction based on the evidence adduced.

Mugiya had argued that Charamba was not the only person who holds the title of public relations officer in the force and said there was a possibility that the message referred to someone else.

He argued that his client was not responsible for the alleged message which had not been authenticated by the service provider arguing “he was equally baffled that the State alleged so.”

Mugiya further refuted claims that Mabasa had destroyed his phone to conceal evidence saying no receipt had been issued to show that there was a phone being held as an exhibit.

Prosecutor Oscar Madhume alleged that on May 15 last year, detectives from CID Homicide Harare received an anonymous WhatsApp message allegedly denigrating Charamba’s office and her personality.

The message read: “The police used to hold meetings with magistrates and other law enforcement stakeholders to map a way of reducing lawlessness but now it’s the other way round.

“The public now has meetings with lawyers on ways to disregard the police. The public relations office is headed by an idiot who does not know that she has to encourage the public to be compliant with the police.”

Investigations were instigated and reportedly pointed to Mabasa as the author of the message.

Follow-ups were made, leading to his arrest at PGHQ transport department where he is attached.

When Mabasa was searched, the State had claimed, police recovered a Techno tablet and Astro cell phone which had messages sent on April 16 last year demeaning Charamba.

Mabasa was immediately arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station.

While being interviewed in connection with the message, Mabasa reportedly grabbed his Techno tablet and smashed it onto the floor, resultantly damaging it.

He denied this narrative.

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