A Zimbabwean judge has thrown out a case against a couple who shared a photoshopped nude of the country’s president on a WhatsApp group, their lawyer said Wednesday.
Sarudzayi Ambiri Jani, 39, and Remember Ncube, 35, were arrested in June 2020 for sharing the image on a neighbourhood group in the southern border town of Beitbridge.
The image showed President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 79, naked except for regalia from his Zanu-PF party, with a mask hanging on a penis.
Zimbabwe has strict laws that forbid undermining or insulting the president.
But magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba tossed out the charges on Tuesday, saying the state had failed to prosecute them after more than a year.
“Magistrate Gwazemba recently removed Jani and Ncube from remand as the state had failed to put them on trial 17 months after they were arrested,” said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which represented the couple.
Zimbabwe notoriously intimidates traditional private media, and increasingly surveils social media, which has become an important means for activists to communicate and organise.