'Chigumba tweet' saga: State opposes change in plea

HARARE - The State yesterday opposed a plan by a former Midlands State University student accused of retweeting a message denigrating the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba, to change his plea.

Night Tawona Shadaya, 25, initially pleaded guilty after he was charged with criminal insult charge for retweeting a message besmirching Chigumba in the aftermath of the hotly-contested July 30 elections.

Attorneys for Shadaya filed a request at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts last week to change his guilty plea.

A plea agreement, detailing his new prayer, was also filed with the court.

Shadaya was charged with breaching section 95 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act).

His lawyer Noble Chinhanu submitted that Shadaya “wrongly” and “mistakenly” pleaded guilty to the offence having an incorrect understanding of the essential elements of the charges he is facing.

“The offense against the accused person is that of intention.

“He never had any intention of raising the offense but was never afforded a chance to raise his defence since the crucial elements which form the basis of the case were not explained to him and were missing from the charge sheet,” Chinhanu submitted.

He further submitted that Shadaya genuinely believed that the account belonged to Chigumba at the time of retweeting and therefore did not impair her reputation.

However, prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri opposed the application arguing that all essential elements were explained.

Mukumbiri said ignorance of the law is not an excuse and cannot be the basis to change the plea.

“The court never erred as it explained all essential elements.

“The accused person even went further to apologise and promised to teach youths about the risks of retweeting without thinking. It is theSstate’s prayer that this application be dismissed,” Mukumbiri said.

Mugwagwa rolled over the matter to today for ruling.

The 25-year-old had initially pleaded that he was not in his right senses when he committed the offence, and that it was not intentional.

He pleaded for the court’s lenience saying he was not employed and lived off his mother.

The bogus tweet which was circulated by Shadaya purported to be from Chigumba’s account read: “I can’t wait for the election fiasco to come to an end. I could do with a holiday and some good sex. My body needs a break.”

Shadaya popularly known for Whatsapp memes got arrested following a report to the police by Chigumba who said she did not own a twitter account.

Comments (1)

This is embarrassing, a total waste of tax payers money. let him go...then where is the right to express one's self, the right of free speech. are these high positioned people beyond even mere comical insult, have they become gods. the Judicial system has lowered themselves, this case should have been thrown out long back.

ed ridges - 18 October 2018

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