A Zimbabwean court has charged a prankster for joking that he was part of a syndicate buying human toes for up to $78,000.
Claims that hard-pressed Zimbabweans had resorted to selling their toes for survival went viral on social media a fortnight ago and a top government official slammed the jokes as an attempt to harm the country’s image.
David Kaseke, a 40-year-old cellphone dealer in Harare, appeared in a video saying he was part of a syndicate that bought human toes for between $26,000 and $78,000.
Kaseke on Tuesday appeared before Harare magistrate Meenal Narotam and was charged with criminal nuisance.
Prosecutors said that on May 27 at around 4pm, the man was approached by a popular tabloid at his workplace in central Harare and told the journalists that he was part of the syndicate that was buying human toes for ritual purposes.
Kaseke claimed the small toe would fetch between $25,000 and $30,000 while the big toe was going for $75 000.
The video recorded by the tabloid went viral on social media and when Kaseke was arrested he said he had made the joke while intoxicated.
Prosecutors said his joke “materially interfered with the comfort, convenience [and] peace of the public as he had wantonly and mischievously raised [a] false alarm to the public”.
The magistrate is yet to hand down a ruling on the matter.
Some Zimbabweans were posting videos on social media, claiming that they had bought luxury cars after selling their toes.
The government took the claims that people were selling their toes so seriously that information minister Kindness Paradza had to visit a mall in central Harare where the trade was said to be taking place “to investigate”.
“As government we did research on this issue and we realised it is false,” Mr Paradza told the state-controlled media during the tour.
“These are social media reports aimed at tarnishing the image of the country.”
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