ZLHR bids for jailed clergyman’s freedom

LAWYERS representing jailed Kariba-based Remnant Pentecostal Church leader Pastor Phillip Mugadza have petitioned the High Court seeking his release on bail after he was arrested last month and charged with criminal nuisance for allegedly prophesying that President Robert Mugabe will die this year.

Pastor Philip Mugadza

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights members Obey Shava and Gift Mtisi filed a bail application in the High Court on Friday 24 February 2017 appealing against the decision of Harare Magistrate Vongai Muchuchutu, who on Thursday 19 January 2017, denied Pastor Mugadza bail.

In denying Pastor Mugadza bail, Magistrate Muchuchutu ruled that the clergyman has a propensity to commit similar offences.

But Shava and Mtisi in their bail appeal argued that Magistrate Muchuchutu erred and misdirected herself in denying bail to the clergyman because the grounds of propensity to commit similar offences which she relied upon only apply to serious offences and to those accused persons who would have been convicted already of which that is not the case with Pastor Mugadza.

On Tuesday 28 February 2017, High Court Judge Justice Priscillah Chigumba postponed the hearing of Pastor Mugadza’s bail appeal to Wednesday 08 March 2017 to allow for the processing of a transcribed record of proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

It was agreed that the record of proceedings obtained from the Magistrates Court and handwritten by Magistrate Muchuchutu is not legible hence the hearing was postponed to Wednesday 08 March 2017, where it is anticipated that the transcribed record would have been processed and that the State would have perused it to enable representatives from the National Prosecuting Authority to file their response to Pastor Mugadza’s bail appeal.

Pastor Mugadza was arrested on Monday 16 January 2017 and charged with contravening Section 42 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 alternatively criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 (2) (v) of the third schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Prosecutors charged that Pastor Mugadza caused the publication of a story in an online publication, The Zimbabwe Mail on Friday 13 January 2017 entitled “Pastor Mugadza says President Mugabe to die in October 2017, thus says the Lord”.

Prosecutors claimed that Pastor Mugadza allegedly insulted the Christian religion and the African tradition by uttering some words, which are a taboo to predict someone’s death and words to the effect

that; “It was on the 26th December 2016 when I was in prayer and God said to me this coming 2017 the President is dying and he told me that he is dying on 17 October 2017, like I said earlier on that am not

happy for someone to die but this is something that is going to happen. People may ask me if what he does not die. I do not know how much he believes in prayer but he has to do something about this prophecy”.

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