Vapositori seek freedom

HARARE - Twenty-four members of the Madzibaba Ishamea Mufani’s Johanne Masowe Church have approached the High Court seeking bail.

The magistrate’s court this week remanded the 24 vapositori, along with six others, in custody to June 16.

The vapositori, who are facing charges of public violence yesterday filed their bail application, arguing that Harare magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe erred when he ruled that their release would cause public outcry.

Through their lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni legal practitioners, the Vapositori argued that the magistrate acted unlawfully when he denied them bail.

“In any event, a court may not deny bail merely because the release of the appellants will cause public outcry,” reads the application.

“The learned magistrate also failed to take into account relevant considerations. The appellant were all of fixed aboard. The state did not entertain any fears that the release of the appellants would prejudice justice, or endanger public safety.

“The State did not hesitate to consent to their release on bail. These were important considerations the court should have considered given that bail is an entitlement unless they are compelling reasons justifying the appellants continued detention, and there were none,” read the court application.

The 24 are Emmanuel Sigauke, 37, Laston Marandure, 23, John Murahwa, 36, Taurayi Supiya, 36, Shadreck Mashonganyika, 25, Robert Paradzayi, 35, Tafa Chakwara, 36, Kudzanai Tichaona Kusekwa, 31, Cabson Chandaona, 43, Alton Makando, 31, Ashton Chinhoyi, 31, Abisha Mutandwa, 30, Brian Machingura, 18, Nathan Muparadzi, 39, Takavengwa Gwenzi, 46, Tichafa Madyegure, 41, Munaro Singadi, 42, Ziwanayi Nyatikonde, 30, Johannes Makumbe, 39, Paul Mupikata, 32, Simango Mharadza, 45, Tachiva Munemo, 37, Regis Bute, 31, and Clephas Muwona charged together with Milton Murinda, Dennis Banda and John Mutasa, who are already in custody, over the same charges.

Allegations against the accused persons arose on May 30, when an entourage led by Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) that included police officers and journalists were beaten by the vapositori.

ACCZ president Johannes Ndanga was reading a letter banning the church on allegations of abusing women and children but the congregants challenged the ACCZ leader to read his speech in Shona, claiming they were not familiar with English.

Ndanga then ordered police to arrest one of the congregants who kept interjecting as he read the speech.

Other congregants then began singing an allegedly, violence-inciting song called Umambo hwepfumo neropa, before all male congregants armed with shepherd’s crooks charged towards the “trespassers.”

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