Bulawayo magistrate, Marygold Ndlovu, is on Thursday expected to make a ruling on a case involving Kumalo Primary School headmistress, Stella Mhlanga, who is facing allegations of peddling pornographic material.
Mhlanga (59) is alleged to have accidentally shared a revealing picture of her private parts on her WhatsApp status.
Mhlanga, who is out of custody, is facing charges of contravening Section 26 of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act Chapter 10:04 (Possession of prohibited articles). She pleaded not guilty.
In her defence outline, Mhlanga through her lawyer Byron Sengweni of Sengweni Legal Practice argued that she was never in possession of the alleged pornographic content.
She said that sometime in December 2019, she received a phone from her sister Sibusisiwe Moyo who is based in South Africa after her phone had been stolen by her housemaid. Part of her defence outline read:
Before handing the phone to the accused, the accused’s sister cleared the phone memory and when she received the phone there was absolutely nothing in it.
She will also deny ever posting pornographic images on her WhatsApp. The images were not posted via her phone but via some unknown device.
She will further state that upon receiving news that offensive material had been posted on her WhatsApp she was advised that she had been hacked and was also advised to restore her phone to factory settings.
When she restored the phone, she lost all the data in her phone but even before that she maintains that she did not have any offensive material.
She also argued that she was advised to stop using the phone in case the hackers attempt to hack it again.
At the close of the State case, Mhlanga’s lawyer filed an application for discharge arguing that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused and that the evidence was unreliable.
However, in response, the State submitted that a prima facie case had been proven.
The State argued that it had managed to show that the accused did have knowledge of the indecent pictures in her phone before and on the day she was arrested.
Allegations are that on 2 August 2021, a tip-off was received at Provincial Victim Friendly Unit to the effect that Mhlanga had posted pornographic material on her WhatsApp status.
She later deleted the picture but some of her contacts including teachers and parents with children at her school had already saved it and forwarded it to their friends.
Mhlanga later posted a new status apologising, saying someone had borrowed her phone. She said:
Good evening, sorry for what was posted on the status, someone had borrowed my phone. My sincere apologies people.
It’s not my character and I don’t post such in my status. Please delete.
Mhlanga was eventually arrested by the police who also seized her cell phone Samsung N910F Galaxy Note.
The cellphone was then referred to CID National Cyber Forensics Laboratory, Bulawayo for examination.
During the forensic examination, four pornographic images were retrieved from her phone and the nude pictures were also produced in court as an exhibit.