HUMAN rights lawyers were on Saturday 04 November 2017 working on filing a bail application seeking an order for the release of Martha O’Donovan, an American citizen, who was arrested and charged with subverting a constitutional government and undermining authority or insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who include Roselyn Hanzi, Jeremiah Bamu, Obey Shava, Fiona Iliff and Tinomuda Shoko, were working on drafting the bail application after Harare Magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta dismissed an application filed by O’Donovan challenging the legality of her arrest.
O’Donovan’s lawyers Roselyn Hanzi and Obey Shava had challenged the lawfulness of the American citizen’s arrest when she appeared in court on Saturday 04 November 2017.
But Magistrate Sabarauta dismissed O’Donovan’s application and remanded her in custody to Wednesday 15 November 2017, prompting her lawyers to working on drafting and filing an application for her release on bail at the High Court.
The 25 year-old American citizens who works at Magamba TV in Harare was arrested on Friday 03 November 2017 and charged with subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23 and undermining authority of or insulting the President in contravention of section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.
Prosecutors claimed that O’Donovan undermined authority of or insulted President Mugabe through posting a message on micro blogging site Twitter, which reads “We are being led by a selfish sick man,” which included a picture illustration of the ZANU PF party leader with a catheter.
The prosecutors charged that the message allegedly posted by O’Donovan is abusive, indecent and obscene and is aimed at undermining authority of or insulting President Mugabe.
The prosecutors also claimed that O’Donovan “systematically sought to incite political unrest through the expansion, development and use of a sophisticated network of social media platforms as well as running some Twitter accounts under the handle Magamba Network Trust, @Matigary and OpenParlyZw with a view to overthrow or attempt to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means”.
The prosecutors charged that O’Donovan is the mastermind behind an organised social media campaign aimed at overthrowing or attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means and is the “central component” in a highly organised attempt to replicate offline uprisings like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt”.
Donovan becomes the first person to be arrested and charged with abuse of social media since the government established a Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation headed by Patrick Chinamasa
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights