Japhet Ibrahim Matarra vs Republic, criminal Appeal No 51 of 2023.

Japhet Ibrahim Matarra, hereinafter referred to as the Appellant was charged before the District Court of Moshi at Moshi with the offence of  Publication of false information contrary to section 16 of the  Cybercrimes Act, 2015.

The particulars of the offence were to the effect that in October, 2021, within the District of Moshi in Kilimanjaro Region, the appellant did publish data presented in a text in a computer system through his twitter account 

bearing words “Utajiri wa aliyekuwa Rais wa JMT awamu ya tano,marehemu DKT. JOHN POMBE MAGUFULI, unakadiriwa kuwa 

Tshs. 11.2B. Upande wa wastaafu inakadiriwa kama ifuatavyo: 

JAKAYA KIKWETE (352B), marehemu B.W. MKAPA (461B) na ALLY HASSAN MWINYI (18.4B) na Rais wetu SAMIA SULUHU 

(34.5B)” while knowing that such data was false with intent to mislead the public

.

The court had this to say:

In his caution statement, the appellant stated that the information which he had published was not true. Also, the appellant in his 

defense failed to raise any doubt against the prosecution evidence.

He failed to disclose source of the information he had published. He failed to prove whether he had authority or mandate to publish the same from any of the Presidents he had mentioned. As we all know that a statement in respect of any person’s account is confidential. 

Even financial institutions cannot disclose personal account information to anyone except the owner of the account.

At this point the appellant had the duty to prove that what he told the public through his Twitter account was true wealth of the 

Presidents of the United Republic of Tanzania. Failure of the appellant to prove what he alleged, draw an inference that his 

statement was false and he intended to mislead the public.

The last issue to be considered is whether the sentence meted against the appellant was legally justified. Section 16 of the Cybercrimes Act (supra) prescribes a sentence of a fine of not less than five million shillings or not less than three years imprisonment or to both. In the case at hand, the appellant was sentenced to serve five years imprisonment in default of a fine of seven million.

The learned trial Magistrate gave the reasons for exceeding the prescribed minimum sentence. Therefore, the sentence which was 

meted against the appellant was lawful and justified.That said, I hereby dismiss the appeal against conviction and sentence for lack of merit.