Five people appeared before a Tanzania court charged with insulting the country’s President John Magufuli on social media.
The five, separately charged with five offences of sharing offensive content targeting the President and the Police Force between August 24 and 30 this year denied the charges and were later released on bail.
State Attorney Salum Mohamed told the court that one of the accused, Dennis Mtegwa, posted an abusive and offensive comment on a WhatsApp group called DSM 114U Movement.
The post, written in Kiswahili, and can be loosely translated as, “I don’t know what is going on in JPM’s head… He doesn’t even know how to say sorry. We are at this stage because of one person who believes that what he thinks is always right…he needs to understand that politics isn’t about resentment and the Opposition isn’t an enemy…he should learn to compete with the Opposition on the basis of debate, not force.”
The prosecution also alleged that the other four shared a post through Facebook and WhatsApp that was intended to turn the public against the Police Force.
“While they are preparing to fight the Opposition, criminals are preparing to commit crime,” reads part of the shared message.
After reading the charges, Mohamed asked the court to remand the accused because investigations were still ongoing.
However, defence lawyer Tundu Lissu objected to the request, saying the offences the accused had been charged with were bailable.
The court concurred with Lissu and ordered the accused to secure two reliable sureties who would each sign a Tsh500,000 (around Sh23,000) bond.