Five people appeared before a Tanzanian court Wednesday charged with insulting President John Magufuli on social media.
The five – Dennis Temu, Suleiman Nassoro, Shakira Makame, Juma Mtatuu, Dennis Mtegwa – were arraigned before different magistrates where they denied the charges.
They were separately charged with five offences of sharing offensive content targeting the president and the police between August 24 and 30, this year, contrary to Section 118(a) of the Electronic and Postal Communications Act No. 3 of 2010.
State Attorney Salum Mohamed told the court that Mr Mtegwa posted an abusive and offensive comment on a WhatsApp group called DSM 114U Movement. He was arraigned before Resident Magistrate Yohana Yongolo.
The post was 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 Mr Temu, Mr Nassoro, Ms Shakira and Mr Mtatuu shared a post through Facebook and WhatsApp that was intended to turn the public against the police.
“While they are preparing to fight the Opposition, criminals are preparing to commit crime,” reads part of the shared message.
The court later released them on bail of Tsh500,000 (about $230) each after defence lawyer Tundu Lissu objected to a request by the prosecution that they be remanded pending completion of ongoing investigations.
The cases were adjourned to September 27.