“Social media can kill you before you die”-Shikapwasha family


RESPONDING to premature social media confirmation of former Zambia Air Force commander Ronnie Shikapwasha’s death, the deceased’s family has expressed concern how some people rushed to publish unverified information about their loved one’s health status.

Yesterday late noon, social media was awash with postings confirming the death of Lieutent General (Rtd) Shikapwasha after it was reported that he had shot himself while other publications claimed that he was shot by his wife.

This prompted Government to later issue a statement in the evening refuting the death speculation while indicating that the former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services was receiving medical attention at Maina Soko Military Hospital’s intensive care unit.

But after 21:00hours, it was established that the 76-year-old Lt Gen had passed on after succumbing to injuries.

Reacting to misinformation over the former diplomat’s death, family spokesperson Maureen Mwanawasa told journalists there is need for people to report verified information especially about death, which is solemn.

The former first lady also stressed the need to factor in culture and decorum when publishing matters relating to death, especially of a person of Lt Gen’s status.

“On issues of when someone dies and how you transmit information, I think it is important to go back to our roots.

“Death is such an honourable event and very solemn, therefore, you cannot get excited and go to social media with unconfirmed information. So, as counties progress, as modernity sets in, we should not forget where we come from because that is what grounds us as Africans, how does Ubuntu respond to a solemn situation,” Ms Mwanawasa said after being asked how the family had been copying over the initial misinformation over Lt Gen’s death.

“People are emotionally broken…for example, in honourable Shikapwasha’s situation, he was not an ordinary citizen, he is [was] a senior citizen, having served in different portfolios in government. Therefore, the way you transmit his dying or his sickness must be orderly, respect him, respect the family, respect your own country, otherwise, we all look disorganized,” she added.

Ms Mwanawasa said those who misinformed the public should have contacted family members to get authentic information.

“When you communicate, you must be referring to who confirmed [the data]. But we understand, a funeral is a difficult space, it will not all be what you want, there will be some people, out of impatience, they will communicate something else, social media can kill you before you die,” she said.

Ms Mwanawasa emphasised that the government statement rebutting social media assertions that Lt Gen Shikapwasha had died was the correct depiction of what had happened at that time.

“It’s unfortunate that within a few hours of reporting that his alive, the condition went down and we had to come back and say he has left us,”.



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