An MDC-T youth, who was arrested for allegedly sending offensive messages  to Bulawayo East legislator Dorcas Sibanda via the party’s WhatsApp chat group, on Friday  applied for discharge.

\n

court

\n

Donald Mabutho (31) applied for discharge at the close of the state case, noting that the chats that he sent were not directed at Sibanda.

\n

He was represented by his lawyer Kholwani Ngwenya of Mabhikwa and Partners when he appeared before magistrate Gladmore Mushove at the Tredgold courts.

\n

Mabutho is facing charges of contravening Section 88 (a) of the Telecommunications Services Act which prohibits “sending any message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or threatening character”.

\n

He denied the allegations that he sent chats labelling Sibanda ‘a dog’ and claiming that she was plotting to destroy the party.

\n

Sibanda testified before the court that she felt threatened by the youth member’s utterances.

\n

The prosecutor, Jeremiah Mutsindikwa, submitted that the grounds for Mabutho’s application do not hold water, noting that he committed a statutory offence by abusing the facilities of a telecommunications service provider.

\n

“It is not material that the words uttered were directed towards the complainant. What is key is that the words that were sent through the service provider were offensive. The service provider is the key complainant in this matter,” argued Mutsindikwa.

\n

Mabutho’s lawyer, however, denied that Econet, as the service provider, was the main complainant in the matter.

\n

“We do not agree that the service provider is the complainant. More-so, the service provider can never have a human face. We can’t talk of Econet as a service provider feeling offended, threatened and so on. That can only be felt by a human being,” submitted Ngwenya.

\n

“Similarly, a message always has an intended recipient. It is, therefore, a wrong interpretation by the state that the act does not specify that the message has to be sent to a specific individual.”

\n

The matter was deferred to Wednesday for ruling on the application for discharge.

\n

It is the state’s case that on November 14 2014 at around 2121 hours, Mabutho posted abusive and threatening messages on the MDC-T chat group, through his cellphone, directing them at Sibanda.

\n

The messages which were written in vernacular and containing unprintable words, accused Sibanda of pursing a destructive agenda within the MDC-T.

\n

“We will fix you Zipankie, you are a dog. MDC-T party does not belong to her mother she must take note of that. You hire thugs to come and cause commotion…those are typical Zanu symptoms, you punk! Today the chairman’s car was parked inside, your plot has been discovered,” read part of the chats.

\n

Sibanda reported Mabutho to the police, and he was subsequently arrested for the offensive chats.

\n