A man has appeared in the White River Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on charges of impersonating the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, on Facebook accounts.
The 34-year-old Zakhele Morris Nkosi appeared in court on Thursday on charges of fraud and impersonation. He was served with a summons last month following a Hawks investigation linking him to the impersonation of Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Nkosi was charged with creating fake social media accounts, which were discovered by the police at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
In April 2020, social media posts stating that Cele would lift the booze ban which had been in place at the time went viral. The fake posts made police realise that there were numerous accounts purporting to be the police minister.
The spokesperson for the Hawks, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said:
“This was unbecoming and regarded as fake news as the minister of police has no valid social media account, and [it was] a contravention of the regulations of the Disaster Management Act as it was during the hard lockdown [aimed at preventing] the rapid spread of Covid-19.”
The resultant investigation found that the police minister was being impersonated or his name and photos were being used on 161 Facebook accounts and two Facebook groups.
One person has already faced court action for creating fake Cele accounts. Mzomusha Hlongwane, 25, was linked to some of the Facebook accounts and appeared in the Bergville Magistrate’s Court in KwaZulu-Natal on 30 September 2021.
He pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined R1 000 or alternatively sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment for contravening Disaster Management Act regulations, along with a R2 000 fine or two months’ imprisonment for fraud, which was suspended for five years.
Meanwhile, Nkosi is expected to be back in court on Thursday. More arrests were expected as the investigation was continuing, said Nkwalase.