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Parliament fails to trace death threats source

by Staff reporter
29 Jul 2017 at 08:09hrs | Views
A PARLIAMENTARY Privileges Committee on death threats to MDC-T legislators yesterday did not yield anything, as chairperson of the committee, Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira said they failed to trace the culprit, who sent the legislators the threatening messages.

Charumbira told the National Assembly that during their investigation, they invited the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Potraz, NetOne and Econet, as well as the leader of the opposition, Thokozani Khupe, and MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese to give oral evidence on the death threats sent as text messages to their MPs.

Parliament was told that the death threats were usually sent to the MPs whenever President Robert Mugabe was to address Parliament.

The affected legislators were Jessie Majome (Harare West), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Nelson Chamisa (Kuwadzana East) and Gonese, and some of the messages read: "I have plenty of space to bury your corpse, be warned your involvement in tomorrow's planned demo is a clear indication of joining your ancestor's," and several other gory messages sent and signed "Death".

"Potraz said the messages did not go through the usual cellphone operators. Instead they used a short code 33284, which reflected as "Death" and "Hitman" to those who received it. The ZRP said the shortcode was not registered with any of the licences operators in the country, and that the person, who used the short code hacked into the Potraz system and did not pay the fees due to the regulator," Charumbira said.

He said NetOne and Econet said the message was not sent through their subscribers either, adding it was possible for persons to clone numbers using certain technology outside the country to bypass the billing system and mirror a local number.

Charumbira said the death threats on MPs constitute a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament although they could not trace the perpetrator, and given that it hinders MPs from discharging their mandate.

The committee recommended expediting of the Cyber Crimes Bill to establish a cyber security office by September 2017 as part of measures to be taken, as well as the amendment of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, and that the Commissioner General of Police must lead the investigation to conclude on the matter.

But, opposition MPs said the measures were inadequate to protect them, particularly given that in cases such as Majome's 13-year-old son, who was also threatened, and that some MPs are assaulted during public hearings on Bills.

Source - newsday