Malawi has started to crack down hard using existing laws to prosecute comments made on Facebook and other social media platforms which break the law which has seen a 23 year old Mchinj man, Protazio Nkhoma convicted and jailed 42 months in prison over Facebook post.
Nkhoma post was successfully proved by prosecution that it was charactor defamation contrary to Section 201 of the Penal Code.
On February 10, 2017 Nkhoma posted on his Facebook timeline stating that the Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) president Lonzoe Zimba had shoot to kill two American in his house.
Nkhoma denied the charge but prosecution proved the post was defamatory in nature to injure the reputation of Zimba.
Passing judgement in Mchinji Firt Grade Magistrate Court, Magistrate Rodwell Meja Phiri , found Nkhoma quilty of defamation of character and tuled that he deserved custodial sentence “to set precedence” to society and deter other would-be offenders.
Magistrate Meja Phiri pointed out that defamation of character is a serious offence as it affected the reputation of the individual.
In mitigation, Nkhoma, who comes from Mzikawola village in Traditional Authority Mlonyeni in Mchinji, asked for leniency and non custodial sentence saying he suffers from epilepsy, has a sick mother and his wife has just given birth.
He also said he would deactivate his Facebook account.
A law expert who spoke to Nyasa Times said technically anything that is said on Facebook is subject to the same laws as if it’s published in any other format; in other words, the most likely charges that could be brought against a tweet or a Facebook status update are defamation – publication of a statement about someone which injures their reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society – or incitement.
Someone has to make a complaint in order for the matter to be investigated, a police spokesman said.
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