Hat's not me! Man appears in court on charges of impersonating Bheki Cele on social media

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Police Minister Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele
  • A man has appeared in court for allegedly impersonating the police minister.
  • He allegedly created social media accounts purporting to be Police Minister Bheki Cele.
  • Last year, a man was fined for a similar offence.

A man has appeared in the White River Magistrate's Court in Mpumalanga on charges of impersonating the police minister on Facebook accounts.

Zakhele Morris Nkosi, 34, appeared in court on Thursday on charges of fraud. He was served with a summons last month following a Hawks investigation linking him to the impersonation of Police Minister Bheki Cele.

READ | Probe into 160 fake social media accounts in Police Minister Bheki Cele's name

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 stated that Cele would lift the booze ban which had been in place at the time. The fake posts made police realise that there were numerous accounts purporting to be the police minister.

Hawks spokesperson 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 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 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.

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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.

Nkosi is expected to be back in court on Thursday.

More arrests were expected as the investigation was continuing, said Nkwalase.

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