Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested and detained a Zimbabwean couple reported to have sent a message on WhatsApp claiming that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had died from Covid-19.
Devine Panashe Maregere (20) and wife Vongai Nomatter Chiminya (20) were arrested and detained as part of a crackdown by the government.
The two were arraigned with the court denying them bail before remanding them in custody to March 5.
According to prosecutors the couple from Beitbridge, a town on the border with South Africa, sent a message to WhatsApp groups claiming President Mnangagwa had died of Covid-19 on January 25.
The couple have been charged with publishing or communicating falsehoods, as the government says it is trying to deal with the rife in fake news publication.
Home Affairs ministry secretary, Aaron Nhepera said “Let us be reminded that such acts have the effect of causing alarm and despondency, not only to the individuals affected and their families, but to the nation at large.”
“This has a destabilising effect at a time the nation is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Nhepera added.
There have been rumours about the health of top government officials, including Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, following the death of three ministers, killed by Covid-19 this month.
Several other persons have fallen victim to the law being used to prosecute the couple.
Anytime citizens make comments deemed unfavourable to the government, they could be arrested and charged for communicating falsehoods.