Harare, June 17, 2014 – A Zimbabwean court has freed on bail more apostolic church members who were arrested recently for allegedly assaulting police officers.
Harare Magistrate Donald Ndirowei on Monday freed eight members of the Madzibaba Ishamea Mufani -led Johanne weChishanu Apostolic Church including a juvenile who were arrested at the end of last month and early this month on charges of assaulting police officers.
Magistrate Ndirowei granted the apostolic sect members bail of $100, ordered them to report once every week at Harare Central Police Station and reside at their given residential addresses.
The church members who were represented by Obey Shava, Andrew Makoni and Tawanda Takaendesa and had earlier on denied bail by another Magistrate based their application on changed circumstances as they argued that their colleagues who are facing the same charges had been admitted to bail while the state represented by Farai Gatsi had opposed the freedom bid.
Last week, the High Court freed on bail 24 church members.
The church members allegedly assaulted police officers who had accompanied Johannes Ndanga, the leader of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) who sought to ban followers of the Johanne weChishanu Apostolic Church apostolic sect from a shrine in Harare’s Budiriro suburb for alleged gross violation of women’s and children’s rights.
The intervention appeared to have triggered the first incident of mob justice against the police and journalists who were caught up in the melee.
Human rights organisations among them the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Peace Project have condemned both the apostolic sect members and the police for the skirmishes.
“Violence, in any form, and by any member of our society must be condemned by all law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of the country. It has no place whatsoever in a community that embraces the constitutional ethos of peace, respect for fundamental human rights, freedoms and human dignity,” ZLHR said in a statement.