HARARE – National police spokesperson Charity Charamba has said she took the insult by a subordinate who called her an idiot personal and felt demeaned.
Charamba was testifying in the trial of James Mabasa, 38, who is being charged with contravening the Post and Telecommunications Act by sending offensive messages over the phone and obstructing the course of justice by destroying a phone that carried the offensive texts.
He appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande represented by Arshiel Mugiya.
The State alleged that on May 15, detectives from CID Homicide Harare received an anonymous Whatsapp message allegedly denigrating Charamba’s office and her personality.
The message read: “The police used to hold meetings with magistrates and other law enforcement stakeholders to map a way of reducing lawlessness but now it’s the other way round. The public now has meetings with lawyers on ways to disregard the police. The public relations office is headed by an idiot who does not know that she has to encourage the public to be compliant with the police.”
It was alleged that Mabasa was immediately arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station.
While being interviewed in connection with the message, Mabasa allegedly grabbed his Techno tablet and smashed it onto the floor, resultantly damaging it.
According to State papers Mabasa did so intending to destroy evidence linking him to the offence and was consequently charged with obstructing the course of justice.
Charamba said: “From my understanding, the term idiot means an imbecile, a person of low thinking, an ass, a moron, an irresponsible person of which I do not regard myself as such.
“It means a person is mentally retarded and under the PTC Act, no one is allowed to send such offensive messages. That really annoyed me and I was getting phone calls from my relatives and friends asking me why I had been called an idiot.”
Charamba said she came to know about the message after an officer commanding Traffic Mujanga leaked the information which had been posted to a Whatsapp group by Mabasa.
After reading the message Charamba had to assign her deputy, Paul Nyathi, to file a report on her behalf before Mabasa was suspended from work over the allegations.
“Mujanga told me that there was a message circulating on Whatsapp in which I had been labelled an idiot. I asked to see the message to verify if I was the one being referred to and realised that I was the one,” added Charamba.
“I am not a person of low thinking otherwise I would not have been in that position of chief of staff press and public relations in the police.”
However, Mugiya argued that Charamba was not the only person who holds the title of public relations officer in the force and said there was a possibility that the message referred to someone else.
He said his client was not responsible for the alleged message arguing “he was equally baffled that the State alleged so”.
Mugiya further refuted claims that Mabasa had destroyed his phone to conceal evidence saying no receipt had been issued to show that there was a phone being held as an exhibit.
The matter was postponed to October 30 for trial continuation.