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Social media malice hurts – Mumbi PhiriBy Mukosha Funga on 20 Jul 2017
Patriotic Front Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri says a lot of female politicians are hurting because of malice on social media.
Mumbi was speaking to journalists after testifying in a matter in which she sued a 45-year-old man for insinuating that she sacrificed her son to become a big political figure.
In this matter, Asher Hakantu is accused of posting defamatory words against Mumbi in a WhatsApp group called “We need a better Zambia” on unknown dates but between May 6, 2017 and May 8, 2017 in Lusaka.
“With intent to defame Mumbi Phiri, unlawfully did publish a defamatory matter concerning the said person on a WhatsApp bloc namely ‘We need a better Zambia’, to which you wrote, ‘Are you sure she didn’t sacrifice the innocent boy for her to come into a political limelight, who knew this finished scrap cargo before she lost her son in Kawambwa School accident. Apusa maningi Mumbi Phiri’,” read the indictment.
After the court hearing, Mumbi told journalists that there was no need to pretend about the gravity of malice on social media.
“I am a woman, we are fighting that we should have 50 50 gender representation then we have people who want to character assassinate us few women who are in politics. So we shouldn’t pretend, a lot of us are hurting over the malice that is being posted on Facebook and social media. Can you imagine, the same UPND created a story that I am sick and I have been evacuated to India. Do I even look sick? And I was receiving calls from all over the country. What type of people are they that want to always see people dead? And for me, I have resolved that until I see this case to the end, in fact tomorrow I will be at the High Court to sue him for defamation so that we have two cases running,” Mumbi said.
During examination in chief, Mumbi testified that Hakantu’s post was shocking because it was unthinkable for one parent to mock the death of another’s child.
Mumbi said Hankutu invited her for a meeting to talk over a cup of Irish coffee or whisky after he allegedly posted the defamatory statement but she declined because she did not want to relive painful memories of her son Taza’s death and instead reported the matter to police.
Mumbi told the court that everyone who sympathized with the Kawambwa accident victims knew that the pupils died as a result of negligence by the school authorities and that was why the head teacher and police officers who were at the checkpoint in Kawambwa had been sued in the High Court.
”When the accident happened, every Zambia sympathized with us hence they were even lawyers who took it upon themselves to sue the state,” Mumbi said.
”According to the lawyers and Zambians at large they felt the children died as a result of negligence by the school authority who allowed the children to get on the transport which was rejected at Mable Show Secondary School.”
Mumbi said she felt deeply insulted when Hakantu referred to her as scrap.
”I felt insulted because from what I know you cannot describe a human being as scrap. Scrap is referred to metals not human beings,” she said.
And Mumbi also said she felt abused over her repeated inclusion in the Whatsapp group.
”I have come out of this forum for so many times but they keep adding me. They add you without your consent the administrators are UPND,” she testified.
But in cross examination led by lawyer Keith Mweemba, Mumbi said she did not have any tangible evidence to show that she was defamed by the accused.
The seemingly emotional Mumbi said despite messages being deleted, some screen shots were taken by a female police officer.
Mumbi kept on complaining that Mweemba was intimidating her by probing on availability of evidence to prove her claims but the court reminded her that she was merely assisting it to arrive at a just decision.
Mumbi denied ever mocking Mutinta Hichilema over her husband’s arrest after being asked about her post in a Whatsapp group where she allegedly wrote that Mutinta was dramatizing her husband’s arrest in front of cameras.
Mumbi also denied ever posting a comment in relation to Hichilema’s arrest on treason charges.
The matter comes up on August 3, 2017 for continued cross examination where defense lawyers will show footage of Mumbi’s comments on HH’s arrest.
About Mukosha Funga
Mukosha Funga is a Zambian journalist interested in good governance and anti corruption reporting.
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