NUST Engineering Student Charged for Racially Charged Posts on Social Media

March 29, 2024
| Report Focus News

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – A student from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has been taken to court under accusations of making racially provocative comments online, igniting tensions and drawing widespread condemnation. Tanaka Ryan Ziso, a 24-year-old final-year Civil and Water Engineering student, was charged with causing offence to persons of a particular race after allegedly demeaning the Ndebele people through posts on his social media account.

Residing in the Old Mutual students’ accommodation complex in Selbourne Park, Ziso appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Maxwell Ncube on Thursday, where he was remanded in custody pending a hearing scheduled for 2 April. The case, which has sparked a conversation about race relations and the power of social media in Zimbabwe, is being closely watched by legal experts and human rights advocates.

Prosecutor Dorcas Maphosa detailed that on 13 March 2024, Ziso used his social media page to post messages that were derogatory towards the Ndebele community, employing language that has been widely criticised for its offensive nature. A subsequent post on 14 March reportedly escalated the situation further, leading to heightened tensions.

The complaint leading to Ziso’s arrest was lodged by Thabani Mpofu, the director of communication and marketing at NUST, highlighting the university’s role in addressing the controversy. Authorities have indicated that printed copies of Ziso’s posts will be used as evidence in court.

Under Zimbabwean law, particularly the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, making public statements that cause offence based on race, religion, or other protected characteristics is a punishable offense. Ziso’s actions, if proven, could see him facing penalties including a fine and/or imprisonment.

This incident underscores the ongoing challenges related to race relations in Zimbabwe and the impact of social media as a platform for both connection and division. The legal outcome of Ziso’s case may set a precedent for how similar cases are handled in the future, emphasizing the country’s stance on racial harmony and responsible online behavior.