CITIZENS Coalition for Change spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere yesterday told a Harare magistrate that she had no intention to lie in her tweets when she alleged that a police officer had fatally struck a baby with a baton stick sometime in 2021.
Mahere said there was no evidence submitted by the State to prove that she had intentions to publish falsehoods.
She was testifying before magistrate Taurai Manuwere in a case where she is accused of communicating falsehoods.
“I totally deny that my tweet is certainly false and no evidence was submitted in court that I had intentions to lie. I had no intention to communicate falsehoods or to incite violence, or to undermine State security. I am exactly in the same position as the witnesses on the scene (who) cited that the baby had been killed by a police officer. I want to emphasise that those tweets were published before any Press statement to contradict that,” Mahere said.
She said even the mother of the baby, Rebecca Masaruri, thought that her baby had died.
Mahere told the court that she only uploaded the video to her Twitter account, where members of the public could be heard saying that the police officer had killed the baby.
“On the video, I saw a woman holding a (seemingly) lifeless baby confronting a police officer while grabbing him by his collar. There is a crowd of people surrounding the mother and the police officer, and the crowd shouting that he has killed a baby. The police officer doesn’t react, and the crowd continues to shout that the baby has been killed by the police officer,” Mahere said.
“What I posted is what was said by members of the public. It is clear that all the people and even the police officers thought the baby had been killed. It is very clear the baby was lifeless and the face was hanging on the side. The baby was not crying or producing any sound as expected if a baby is alive and being pushed around.”She said thereafter the police, through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi then issued a statement responding to the viral video, where they said they did not condone the conduct of police smashing windows of public vehicles and endangering lives.
Mahere’s attempt to submit Nyathi’s statement as a court exhibit was opposed by State prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa, who said the statement was not verified.
Mahere then said even though the State said the baby had not died, it failed to submit medical certificates supporting that opinion. She said the mother of the baby testified that she was traumatised by the incident.
“I am not the only person who tweeted about the conduct of the police. In fact, the statement by the police on January 6 demonstrated that there was widespread belief on social media that the baby had died,” she said.
Manuwere adjourned the matter to February 1.