GEORGE van Straten, a resident of Windhoek with strong family ties to Walvis Bay, was issued with a fine of N$2 000 for spreading fake news on social media platforms.
Van Straten stated in a message on Whatsapp, that spread like wildfire at the time where a truck driver that absconded from an isolation facility tested positive for COVID-19, that all truck drivers in the employ of FP du Toit Transport have tested positive for infection with the virus.
The message that reached thousands of people, caused serious financial and reputational damage to one of the oldest and biggest transport companies in Namibia.
The unemployed musician along with Paulus Kalembera Simuku Kafu both found themselves on the wrong side of the law for unfounded utterances they spread on social media platforms.
In the case of Kafu, traditional values triumphed over what is perceived by many as modern freedom of speech rights when the Kwangali Community Court at Kahenge convicted him on charges of bearing false witness and crimen injuria and issued him with a fine of N$12 000 or six head of cattle.
Van Straten, on the other hand, caused an estimated N$9 million in damages to FP du Toit Transport because of the fake news he created.
Under the regulations of the State of Emergency, the spreading of fake news or misinformation about the COVID-19 is a criminal offence.
The Chief Executive Officer of FP du Toit Transport, Stephan Terblanche, confirmed that the company lost millions in revenue and that extraordinary steps had to be taken to win back the trust of clients.
Van Straten was arrested in Windhoek on Thursday following an investigation by detectives of the Namibian Police. Upon his apprehension by the police, Van Straaten initially denied he was the creator of the message but later admitted guilt and was subsequently fined.
In a statement, Van Straten offered a formal apology to FP du Toit Transport, its workforce and clients. He said in the statement that he did not broadcast the message with any malicious intent.