Artist imprisoned after burning the President’s photo is set free


Artist Shadrack Chaula, 24, was released yesterday, Monday, July 8, 2024, after being sentenced to two years in prison after failing to pay a fine of 5 million shillings for spreading false information against Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan online.

On July 4, 2024, Chaula, arrested on charges of burning a picture of President Samia Suluhu Hassan and accused of spreading false information, was given a two-year sentence or a Sh5 million fine after admitting to the offense.

His admission was questioned by some legal experts, with others, such as Peter Kibatala, being vocal about their displeasure with the legal procedures and vowing to appeal the sentence.

Following Chaula’s sentencing, users of the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) raised Sh5.6 million within six hours, enough to secure his release. Through the Instagram page of lawyer Peter Kibatala, gratitude was expressed to all those who contributed.

“Shadrack Yusuph Chaula is free. You paid for his freedom and the freedom of expressi
on in this country,” wrote Kibatala.

Just one day after Chaula was sentenced to two years in jail or a fine of Sh5 million, various stakeholders on social media rallied efforts to ensure his immediate release.

Despite being earlier arrested for burning the commander-in-chief’s photo, the artist faced charges of spreading false information about the president in a TikTok video posted on June 22, 2024, violating Section 16 of the Cybercrime Act. Initially, he was arrested for burning a picture of the president.

The video, showing Chaula burning Samia’s picture, went viral and was condemned by authorities.

On July 4, 2024, Chaula was sentenced to two years in prison or a fine of Sh5 million. Since he couldn’t pay the fine, he was sentenced to prison.

Immediately after the sentencing, his lawyers, Peter Kibatala, Michael Mwangasa, and Michael Lugina, who offered their services pro Bono, worked on an appeal as activist Godlistern Malisa, coordinated the collection of the fine on social media.

Source: Ghana