Malawian Man Fined for Spreading fake News on Whatsapp Groups

By Aisha Amidu

The Karonga First Grade Magistrates court in Malawi on January 06, 2020 ordered a 34 year old man, Palisha Twasa Swira to pay K100,000 fine or spend 12 months in prison for publicizing false news likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.

The court, through state prosecutor, Sub-Inspector Alfred Chidzere heard that on January 02 this year, Swira produced an audio about the death of a Police Officer, Sub Inspector Michael Mwangomba alleging that late Mwangomba confiscated two bags of charcoal from a certain man at Songwe Boarder.

In the audio, the accused further alleged that late Mwangomba was bewitched and he was defeacating charcoal following the confiscation of the two bags.

Swira pleaded guilty to the charge but the state asked the court to play the audio before the judgment so that court could have a grasp of what was narrated in the audio. 

In submission, the state told the court that the offence which the accused committed caused fear and alarm to the police family together with the deceased family.

Therefore, the state wanted stiff penalty as what Swira committed was contrary to section 60 of penal code which states that no person shall publicize news which will likely cause fear and alarm to public peace.

In mitigation, Swira told the court that he is the bread winner of the family as he looks after his old mother and his relative.

In response to mitigation and giving judgment, First Grade Magistrate Julius Kalambo concurred with the state that the offence caused fear and alarm to public peace.

However, his worship Kalambo narrated that the offence is a misdemeanor and the maximum sentence is two years considering that the accused is the first time offender.

The court gave him a fine of one hundred thousand kwacha or in default spend 12 months in prison.

Palisha Twasha Swira hails from Naolondo village TA Mwaulambiya in Chitipa district.