Tshabangu Activist Struggles to Pay USD100 Fine After Cyberbullying Conviction
25 May 2024
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By Dorrothy Moyo | Bulawayo Magistrate Challenge Mahembe convicted Sengezo-Tshabangu-Coalition member Soneni Moyo of sending offensive messages over WhatsApp, fining her US$100 or the equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars. The fine must be paid by June 28, 2024, failing which Moyo faces a two-month prison term.

Soneni Moyo

Soneni Moyo, who had contested the Phelandaba-Tshabalala constituency in the 2023 harmonized elections, has reportedly been unable to raise the necessary funds to cover her fine, with sources close to her indicating that no one is willing to assist her financially. This development is particularly noteworthy as it suggests a lack of support within her own political circles, possibly due to the nature of her offense or current political dynamics.

Moyo was charged under Section 88(a) of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, Chapter 12:05, for sending a series of messages that were described as grossly offensive, indecent, obscene, or threatening. The offensive messages were directed at her rival, Raymond Gombedza, and included derogatory statements involving his mother.

The court’s decision to impose a fine rather than direct imprisonment came with a stern warning: a three-month sentence has been wholly suspended on the condition that Moyo does not commit a similar offense within the next four years.

This case highlights the significant impact of cyberbullying and the seriousness with which the judicial system in Zimbabwe is addressing offenses related to digital communication. As the deadline for the fine payment approaches, it remains to be seen how Moyo will navigate this financial and reputational hurdle.