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for posting presidential ballot on Facebook
Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa
September 13, 2013
An MDC-T activist,
Tonderai Rukato, was last month convicted of breaching the Electoral
Act when he uploaded a photo of a marked presidential ballot
on his Facebook page.
The 31 year-old
Rukato was then sentenced to ten months in prison, three of which
were suspended on condition of good behaviour. The Gokwe based activist
appeared in court on August 6th facing charges of contravening the
Electoral Act, which falls under the country’s Official
He was arrested
in the evening of Election Day after uploading
a presidential ballot paper that was marked in favour of MDC-T
candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.
served a month in prison before being bailed on appeal, told SW
Radio Africa on Friday that his troubles began when he ‘excitedly’
uploaded the photo of the ballot that had been doing the rounds
my vote in the morning and around midday I saw this photo of a presidential
ballot that had been marked in favour Tsvangirai on whatsapp.
a young man and unaware of the consequences I uploaded the photo
on my facebook page and as usual friends began making comments about
it,’ said Rukato.
he is a well known figure in Gokwe, as his family runs a business
there, his actions soon caught the attention of the police and state
8pm some police officers came to our house and arrested me. I was
charged and kept in cells for 3 days until I was bailed and told
to appear in court on the 6th August.
day of the court, I expected to get a warning or worse a suspended
sentence but I was horrified when the magistrate ruled that I should
serve 10 months in prison for a stupid mistake.
was after I explained that I wasn’t even the person who took
the photo and mass distributed it via whatsapp,’ Rukato added.
protestations, Rukato served 31 days in a filthy jail that had 280
inmates, although it is meant to hold 80 prisoners. He described
his time in prison as the most traumatic since he was born.
happens inside those prison walls is something that you don’t
want to go through again. People die and the food is just horrible.
Can you imagine three toilets for 280 inmates,’ he said. His
ordeal came to an end last week when lawyers from the MDC-T lodged
an appeal that was granted by a magistrate.
just a small reprieve as I need to clear my name. We need to appeal
against the conviction and sentence because as far as I know I did
nothing wrong,’ said Rukato.
A day after
being released, his family store in Gokwe was set alight in a suspected
arson attack. Goods worth over $2,000 were destroyed in the fire.
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