Tanaka Freed
4 April 2024
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In a recent judicial proceeding, Tanaka Ryan Ziso, a 24-year-old student at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), faced legal scrutiny for allegedly publishing a controversial statement on social media that disparaged the Ndebele ethnic group. Ziso, who is pursuing his final year in civil and water engineering and resides at the Old Mutual students’ accommodation complex in Selbourne Park, was brought before Bulawayo magistrate Mr. Maxwell Ncube this Tuesday. The charges against him are centered around the accusation of making offensive remarks towards individuals of a specific race.

TAnaka Ziso

The court set Ziso’s bail at US$50, following which he was released. His legal defense is being managed by Mr. Tinashe Tashaya from Sengweni Legal Service. As the proceedings unfold, Ziso has been remanded out of custody, and his case is set to continue through summons, indicating that he will not be held in jail while awaiting trial but must appear in court as required.

The allegations stem from a post Ziso is said to have made on March 13, at approximately 8:11 PM, on his social media page—referred to in court documents as his X-page, formerly known as Twitter—under the username “The Royal Priest of Chitungwiza @iamryantanaka.” In this post, Ziso is accused of broadcasting derogatory views about the Ndebele people. This situation escalated the following day around 2 PM when he purportedly published another post that further inflamed tensions.

Prosecutor Ms. Dorcas Maphosa highlighted that printed versions of Ziso’s social media posts are available and can be submitted as evidence in court. She emphasized that Ziso’s actions, deemed to be offensive towards individuals based on their race, tribe, and place of origin, were unjustified and legally indefensible. The case brings to the forefront issues of freedom of expression and the legal boundaries within which such freedom operates, especially concerning hate speech and its impact on societal harmony and individual dignity.–State Media