Activist Alenga Torosterdt has been charged with twelve counts of publishing false information at a Kakamega Court.
He is accused of publishing false information against various members of the Vihiga County Government in the months of July to October, contrary to section 66 of the Penal Code.
He is also accused of computer fraud, contrary to section 26 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018.
Alenga who is an activist, has rubbed the Vihiga County Executives the wrong way by publishing information he received on purported corruption on social media. He also shares the information with the Senate and various investigative bodies like EACC, DPP and DCI.
He was arrested on the 1st of November by CID officers attached to the Kitengela Police station. They then held him at the Kitengela police station for about an hour before the officers from Kakamega arrived.
According to Alenga, “the reason for my arrest was that the Governor Vihiga county, Dr. Wilbur Ottichilo had asked the Regional CID boss based to have me arrested because I was attacking his government and revealing secrets of his administration on social media through my blogs.”
He was driven to Kakamega and questioned over his sources of information on the scandals in the county government of Vihiga. He however did not reveal any. He stayed in the cells until 3rd November, then his released on free bond on that day.
Mr. Alenga was to appear in court on Monday 5th November, 2018. When he did, no case had been filed. He was asked to return on the 9th November 2018. On 9th, while he was to be charged, his lawyer objected asking the court to transfer the hearings to Vihiga law courts where both complainants and him are residents. The magistrate asked them to return to court on 15th November when she would rule on their application.
On 15th November, the magistrate ruled against their application and ordered immediate plea taking. He was charged, under the case file no: 2690/18 and the magistrate ordered he be released on sh50,000 cash bail or sh100, 000 bond. He paid the cash bail and was released.
Section 26 was not among those that were suspended, pending hearing and determination of the case challenging the constitutionality of 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercimes Act, 2018. It reads;
(1) A person who, with fraudulent or dishonest intent—
(a) unlawfully gains;
(b) occasions unlawful loss to another person; or
(c) obtains an economic benefit for oneself or for another person, through any of the means described in subsection (2),
commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding twenty million shillings or imprisonment term for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both.
(2) For purposes of subsection (1) the word “means” refers to —
(a) an unauthorised access to a computer system, program or data;
(b) any input, alteration, modification, deletion, suppression or generation of any program or data;
(c) any interference, hindrance, impairment or obstruction with the functioning of a computer system;
(d) copying, transferring or moving any data or program to any computer system, data or computer data storage medium other than that in which it is held or to a different location in any other computer system, program, data or computer data storage medium in which it is held; or
(e) uses any data or program, or has any data or program output from the computer system in which it is held, by having it displayed in any manner.
Section 66 of the Penal Code, alarming publications reads;
(1) Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace is guilty of a misdemeanour.
(2) It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) if the accused proves that, prior to publication, he took such measures to verify the accuracy of the statement, rumour or report as to lead him reasonably to believe that it was true.
They appeared back on the 19th November and the hearing date was set for 14th March, 2019.