Teacher was arrested recently for complaining about the poor salaries paid by the government to civil servants.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the teacher, Edith Mupondi, resides in Budiriro, a high-density suburb in Harare.
Mupondi appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court on Monday, 7 November, on charges of contravening section 88(b) of the Postal & Telecommunications Act for “sending by telephone any message that she knew to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience needless anxiety to any person.”
Prosecutors allege that Muponda, who is represented by ZLHR lawyer Gift Mtisi, unlawfully used her mobile phone handset to send a message on “Epworth Ladies” WhatsApp group on 23 October 2020 decrying payment of poor salaries by the government to civil servants. The alleged message read:
PaEpworth High School, Mr Muzondo, Mr Mudzengere, Mrs Sithole please tinyareiwo muzvigarire kumba, muri kurwisa vanhu vari kukurwirai kuti muwane mari inotenga. Tinyareiwo please.
When loosely translated into English, this means:
At Epworth High School, Mr Muzondo, Mr Mudzengere & Mrs Sithole, please respect us by staying at your respective homes. You are fighting people that are clamouring for payment of improved salaries for teachers.
The message prompted Yvonne Sithole, one of the teachers at Epworth High School, who was allegedly mentioned in the WhatsApp communication reportedly sent by Mupondi, to lodge a complaint with the police
As a result, Mupondi was arraigned before Harare Magistrate Tafadzwa Miti to stand trial on charges of contravening the Postal & Telecommunications Act.
In her complaint, Sithole said the message allegedly generated by Mupondi scared her as it sent shivers down her spine. She said:
I recalled well since the opening of schools, I was going to school as usual since I had an exam class.
On some of the days I would inform the Headmaster that I was not coming since I had no money for transport and this was being done by every teacher at the school.
Surprisingly, on 23 October 2020, around 2026 hours, a WhatsApp message was sent to a group.
The message was from a group called “Teachers Can’t Breathe Epworth” and it was forwarded to “Epworth Ladies Group”. It was forwarded by Edith Mupondi.
I am now living in fear and I am no longer able to go to school since I don’t know the intentions of these people and I informed the Headmaster.