Cape Town – A 34-year-old man appeared in the White River Magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga on Thursday on charges of impersonating Police Minister Bheki Cele on social media.
Zakhele Morris Nkosi was served with the summons last month following an investigation that linked him to the impersonation of the police minister.
The investigation was sparked by fake news circulating on social media during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
Fake social media posts claimed in April, 2020 that Cele would lift the booze ban which had been in place at the time.
The investigation revealed that there were 161 Facebook accounts and two Facebook groups purporting to be belonging to the police minister – bearing his name and his and pictures, police said in a statement.
“The Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team, with Cyber Crime Investigation team attached to the Hawks Priority Crime Specialised Investigation acted on information that was circulating on social media purporting that the police minister will on the 13 April 2020 announce that liquor shops will open.
“This was unbecoming and regarded as fake news as the minister of police has no valid social media account, and a contravention of the Regulations of Disaster Management Act as it was during the hard lockdown levels to prevent the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Nkwalase.
Nkosi was set to return to Kanyamazane Magistrates court on August 11 and more arrests were expected as the investigation continued.
Nkwalase said the Hawks had also arrested 25-year-old, Mzomusha Hlongwane, who was linked to another Facebook account. He was served with court summons to appear in the Bergville Magistrate’s in KwaZulu-Natal on September 30 last year.
Hlongwane pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced on December 3, last year.
“A fine of R1 000 with an alternative 30 days imprisonment for contravening the Regulations of the Disaster Management Act was handed down to him. He was additionally fined R2 000 or two months imprisonment for fraud, suspended for five years on condition that he will not be convicted for fraud over the period of suspension,” Nkwalase said.
Picture: Twitter/ @PhakamaMthwaka1
Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe