By Garikai Mazara
About half-a-year after foul-mouthed businessman Wicknell Chivayo sent abusive WhatsApp messages to this reporter, a matter which was immediately reported at Harare Central Police Station, the criminal case has apparently grown cold.
Whilst the Zimbabwe Republic Police, through its investigating officer, Assistant Inspector Mashinga, is saying that they completed the docket on April 24 and forwarded it to the National Prosecuting Authority, the NPA in turn is saying the police is yet to complete its “investigations”.
Caught in the web is the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, which has been giving excuse after excuse for not extracting the offensive WhatsApp messages to be used as evidence in court.
Whilst Assistant Inspector Mashinga applied for and obtained a warrant from the Harare Magistrate’s court for access to the accused’s mobile device, to extract the offensive messages, on the other hand, Potraz, is asking the complainant in the case to avail his mobile device “for inspection”.
Interestingly, Potraz were the first to post on their official Twitter page on February 21: “This a serious offence and contravenes Section 88 of the Telecommunications Act of 2000.”
Minutes later, the regulatory authority tweeted: [email protected] and @SundayMail should report to the police. If need be, we can then assist the police in unpacking the act.”
And curiously, efforts to have the complainant’s device “examined” have been met with excuse after excuse from Potraz.
Norah Spie, the then Potraz’s public affairs manager (digital) writing on March 9, advised:
“Well received. Will pass it on to Mr Dzingirayi (in copy) who will be able to advise accordingly. But as discussed over the phone, you need a WARRANT OF SEARCH from the police/the courts.
“You then bring your handset to have the communication authenticated by Potraz.
“With this warrant, the police can also confiscate the other party’s handset. Please liaise with Mr Dzingirayi if you need any further assistance.”
But visits to Potraz have yielded nothing, with excuse being offered after excuse. The software for authenticating the conversation, at least from what was explained by Potraz, is in the hands of one person, who travels around with it in his laptop.
The frustrating approach by the combined Government organisations, from police, the prosecuting and regulatory authorities has left Tichawana Nyahuma, legal counsel for the case, considering the option of private prosecution.
What started as a routine reportage on the progress on the Gwanda solar project, a project which was tendered to the tune of $200 million, of which $5 million of taxpayers’ money has been advanced for pre-commencement works, turned nasty when Chivayo sent unprintable WhatsApp messages, some which insulted the reporter’s mother’s sexuality.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
The feature story, which was published on February 19, gave a narration of what was on the ground at the Gwanda site and Chivayo was given a chance to explain his position. The Sunday Mail