Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened 20 years in jail to the author of a statement purporting to bear his signature that said the lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak had been extended.
Harare – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson
Mnangagwa threatened 20 years in jail to the author
of a statement purporting to bear his signature that said the
lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak had been extended.
Mnangagwa, who was speaking at his farm after touring Gweru
city in central Zimbabwe, told state broadcaster ZBC he had not
extended the 21-day lockdown. The statement that claimed the
restrictions were extended was circulated on social media last
week and was immediately denied by the government.
“If we catch this person it must be exemplary and they must
go in for at least a level 14, which is 20 years imprisonment
…. I think we need to demonstrate that we don’t want false
news to be circulated,” Mnangagwa said.
The southern African nation last month published lockdown
regulations, which included jail terms of up to 20 years for
people who spread falsehoods regarding the outbreak.
National police spokesman Paul Nyathi said more than 5,000
people had been arrested for venturing outside their homes
without permission but denied security forces had abused
Rights groups say there have been a growing number of cases
of abuse after the army was deployed to help police enforce the
lockdown. Security forces in Zimbabwe have a history of
brutality when enforcing the law.
Mnangagwa said his cabinet would meet this week to decide
whether to end, adjust or extend the lockdown.
The authorities have said three people have died from the
new coronavirus and 17 people have been infected in the country
of 15 million people. Just over 600 people had been tested by
Police spokesman Nyathi said police had not received any
official complaints of abuse from residents.
But in a ruling, the High Court issued a warning to police
after a petition by some citizens.
“It is unlawful for law enforcement officers or any other
person purporting to be enforcing the regulations to affront the
dignity of persons by assaulting them or ordering persons to
carry out humiliating acts,” the court said.
In an editorial on Monday, the state-owned Herald newspaper
criticised the police for harassing journalists doing their work
during the lockdown, including forcing some to delete pictures
and video that captured abuses by security forces.
Nyathi said he was not aware of the incidents.
In a separate case, the High Court ordered the government to
provide enough protective clothing to frontline health workers
fighting the coronavirus outbreak at state hospitals after some
doctors sued the government.