Zim police heap more charges against Pastor Mawarire

As he endures second night in police custody

ZIMBABWEAN police have added new charges of insulting the national flag and inciting public violence against Pastor Evan Mawarire, who was arrested on Wednesday 01 February 2017 upon his return to the country from the USA.

Pastor Mawarire, who is represented by Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was first charged on Wednesday 01 February 2017 with subverting a constitutional government as defined in Section 22 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after he was arrested at Harare International Airport on his return home and detained at Harare Central Police Station.

But on Thursday 02 February 2017, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers added more woes to Pastor Mawarire after they charged him with insulting the national flag in contravention of Section 6 of the Flag of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 10:10 and inciting public violence as defined in Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

According to a warned and cautioned statement, which was recorded from Pastor Mawarire on Thursday 02 February 2017, ZRP officers alleged that the clergyman insulted the Zimbabwe national flag by using it to brand his politically motivated criminal activities.

The ZRP officers charged that Pastor Mawarire would “wear” the national flag each time he addressed or incited members of the public or his followers to revolt against a constitutionally elected government by urging all workers not to go to work and stage demonstrations in circumstances which were calculated to show disrespect for the flag or to bring the Zimbabwe national flag into disrepute.

The addition of the new charges leaves Pastor Mawarire facing a total of three charges which he has to answer to in court, where he is expected to appear on Friday 03 February 2017.

Pastor Mawarire becomes the second clergyman to be charged with insulting the national flag after Remnant Pentecostal Church leader Pastor Philip Mugadza. Pasto Mugadza was arrested on Friday 18 November 2016 by ZRP officers for allegedly wearing the national flag without first seeking permission from Zimbabwean authorities.

Prosecutors claimed that Pastor Mugadza contravened Section 6 of the Flag Act by unlawfully and intentionally wearing or displaying the national flag without securing prior permission from the “secretary” as required by the Flag Act.

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