Malawian woman jailed over WhatsApp voice note

“Spreading lies against other people on social media is a dangerous criminal act.”

Globally, it is now no longer criminally safe to post and spread false allegations against other people because the law is now biting deep in the flesh.

Unbeknown to many, especially in the South-eastern country of Malawi, a former British protectorate, spreading lies on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and LinkedIn among others is a criminal offence that can send one to prison and at the same time give one a the criminal record on their person.

WhatsApp voice note gets woman in jail

A 38-year-old Malawian woman has been jailed for spreading lies through a WhatsApp voice note

“Many people are abusing social media these days to spread lies, insults or defamatory statements against innocent people and think it is okay.

“NO, it is not okay. It is a crime and anyone out there doing this kind of stuff, be warned. You can go to jail for it,” The Chief Resident Magistrate Court in Lilongwe has warned in its determination.

Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa earlier this week convicted and sentenced a 38 year old woman, Ireen Chisulo Majiga to pay a K50,000.00 fine or serve one months imprisonment for publication false news likely to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to Section 60 (1) of the Penal code.

The Chief Resident Magistrate Court, through state prosecutor Sub-Inspector Humphreys Makhariha, heard that on March 15, 2021 the accused published a false voice note about a certain suspect who is on remand answering defilement case.

Makhaliha further told the court that in her voice note that went viral on social media, the woman claimed that the defiler had been released dubiously .

The Cyber crime unit investigated the matter and arrested Majiga.

Appearing before court, Majiga pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against her .

In his submission, Makhaliha asked the court to impose a stiff sentence on Majiga, saying this tendency of spreading false news publicity on social media is increasing and it brings unrest to the public.

Passing sentence, Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa concurred with the state and ordered Majiga to pay a fine of K50,000.00 or in default to serve one month imprisonment with hard labour.

Meanwhile the suspect has paid the fine and has escaped incarceration but she has a criminal record as a convict on her head.

In his ruling, Chiwa said, the offence attract a lighter punishment currently as the country’s laws has not yet been updated and amended according in tandem with the modern times. There is need to repeal these laws to align them with modernity so offenders can get stiffer punishments.

“Spreading lies against other people on social media is a dangerous criminal act as this can not only cause panic and alarm to the general public but also has an adverse impact to the concerned individuals because of cyberbullying and people have committed suicide because of this,” Chirwa said.

The convict, Majiga, hails from Manase village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Chigaru in Blantyre District.

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