Tanzanian comedian and 2014 Big Brother Africa winner, Idris Sultan will be arraigned in court a second time on Thursday, July 9, to face charges of ‘failure to register a SIM card previously owned by another person’ and ‘failure to report change of ownership of a SIM card’.
These charges were brought after he posted a video of himself on social media, laughing at an old photo of President John Magufuli wearing an oversized suit.
The reality star, who was first arrested on May 19, made his first court appearance before the Resident Magistrate for Kisutu in the capital Dar es Salaam on June 9, but the hearing did not take off because the prosecution failed to prepare for the preliminary hearing.
The comedian was charged with SIM card-related offences under the repressive Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010 (SIM card Registration) Regulations 2020 and amended Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010.
He was released on a court bond of 15 million Tanzanian shillings
Deprose Muchena, the Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa has urged the Tanzanian government to drop charges against a comedian while explaining that Sultan was only exercising his right to freedom of expression.
“These charges are politically motivated and must be immediately dropped,” he said.
“It is a travesty that Idris Sultan is being subjected to judicial persecution simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Laughing is not a crime.
“Criminalizing one’s humour is a new low in Tanzania’s unrelenting clampdown on freedom of expression,” said Muchena.
“It is evident that the Tanzanian authorities do not have a case against Idris Sultan and are simply out to harass him because his humour offended them. The court must throw out the trumped-up charges against him.”