A Blantyre-based woman, Mercy Gondwe, 43, has been convicted and fined for spreading fake news about FDH Bank using the Electronic Communication and Cyber Security law.
Gondwe was arrested last week after she authored a message and posted it on a WhatsApp group alleging that FDH Bank was collecting National IDs and passing them on to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
But the Blantyre Magistrate Court on Wednesday convicted Gondwe and slapped her with a K500,000 fine and 18 months imprisonment. However, the sentence has been suspended to 18 months.
Gondwe spent some days in a Police cell in Blantyre.
The convict has also been ordered to retract the malicious message she circulated. She will be writing through the same WhatsApp group ‘Citizen for Transformation’ and the message will clearly indicate that what she circulated was false and unfounded.
Gondwe has been ordered to do this once a week for three weeks starting next week and the screen shot of the retracting message will be sent to the investigator and prosecutor as a way of monitoring that she is complying with the court order.
According to the charge sheet seen by Nyasa Times, Gondwe was charged with prohibition of Cyber stalking contrary to Section 88 of the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act.
“Mercy Gondwe on (or about) 2nd April 2020 in the Republic of Malawi willfully used Electronic Communication namely a cell phone to harass FDH Bank and made a threat by sending a message to a WhatsApp group called ‘ Citizens for Transmission’ that reads ‘FDH Bank is getting customers ID information (KYC) and giving DPP. Please forward to the groups!’ with intend to instill fear in FDH Bank,” reads particulars of the charge signed by Police Prosecutor Superintendent Mwayiulipo.
Reacting to the verdict, FDH Bank public relations officer Lorraine Lusinje said the Bank has welcomed the sentence and hoped that people will now be responsible on what they post on social media.
“We indeed lodged a formal complaint to the police recently under the Cyber Security Act following defamatory and malicious content that was circulated on social media. We are happy that the case has been concluded and we hope this serves as a lesson to people who post things on social media without verifying them with concerned people.”
“FDH Bank’s priority is to serve its customers diligently and effectively and will take action when matters arise that compromise this. FDH Bank has been a victim of malicious content and this first conviction has emboldened the Bank to vigorously pursue any fake news,” said Lusinje.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :