Man arrested for 'spreading lies' on Facebook about cop in Mpumalanga
A 22-year-old man is in custody after appearing in Bethal magistrate's court on charges of crimen injuria and incitement to commit crime after falsely accusing a police officer on social media of killing a teenager during a violent protest.
Ayanda Kubheka allegedly spread misinformation after a protest last week at eMzinoni, in Mpumalanga, turned violent.
"He allegedly circulated malicious allegations on Facebook indicating that a police officer stationed at eMzinoni had shot and killed a 14-year-old," said police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi.
"The police are taking these allegations seriously and make a clarion call to the public to refrain from intentionally tainting other people through social media by making false accusations as such is deemed an aggressive act," said Hlathi.
During the protests, community members called for the release of suspects in custody at the police station. Officers refused to comply and residents hurled petrol bombs and stones at the station.
Thirty-five suspects aged 18 to 41 were arrested.
Hlathi said that community members had demanded the release of men held for various crimes.
"The suspects which the community were forcing the police to release ... made an appearance at Bethal magistrate's court on charges of malicious damage to property, house breaking, theft and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm."
Five of the suspects were granted R1,500 bail each and one remaining suspect was remanded in custody for further investigation. He will appear again on September 10.
Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Mondli Zuma condemned the vandalism of public property.
"It was also reported that on the very same day when they attempted to set alight the police station, they senselessly burnt down a house belonging to a police officer and an investigation thereof is also underway," said Zuma.
He cautioned residents to protest within the ambit of the law.
"As the SA Police Service we are aware of the right that people have to protest, but that should be done within the ambit of the law. Any act of criminality shall be dealt with accordingly without any fear, favour or prejudice," he said.