Home » Judicial » ’Madzibaba Ishmael Incited Violence’

Johanne Masowe eChishanu Apostolic Sect leader Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa incited violence at his shrine against the police and journalists, two police officers testified yesterday.

More than six riot police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) were seriously injured after the apostolic sect members attacked them with knobkerries and stones in Budiriro, Harare, last year.

Chokurongerwa (44) pleaded not guilty to public violence charges when his trial started before Harare magistrate Mr Milton Serima.

In his defence, Chokurongerwa, through his lawyer Mr Tawanda Takaindisa, said he was not present when the offence was committed.

“He was attending prayers out of Harare and only came back at the end of August last year. Never at any point in time did he incite public violence or aocate for same since he was not there.

“Whatever happened occurred in his absence and as such he had no control over it because he was not part of the congregation.”

Chokurongerwa denied evading arrest at any point and said he was not aware of investigations until his arrest.

The first State witness, police officer Stanely Tafirenyika told the court that he saw Chokurongerwa.

“When ACCZ president Reverend Ndanga arrived at the shrine on the day in question, Chokurongerwa was there. He is the one who told him to speak in Shona instead of English saying there was no white person present.

“He also started the song ‘Humambo Hwepfumo Neropa’, and the congregation joined in, and stood up, leading to the violence. To say that he was not present is a lie because I saw him and I had known him since 2013,” he said.

A second witness, police officer Chipo Chironga, corroborated Tafirenyika’s testimony.

During cross-examination Mr Takaindisa asked why Chironga did not mention that Chokurongerwa was at the shrine during the trial of 37 others.

In her response Chironga said that was not necessary since the accused was on the run.

Chokurongerwa was arrested at his rural home in Chigogodza Village Musami in Murehwa in January this year after being on the run for seven months.

Eleven sect members who took part in the violence were sentenced to an effective four years in prison each in November last year.

Twenty-six others were acquitted after the State failed to prove a case against them.

Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri alleged that on May 30 last year around 11am, Bishop Ndanga, his delegation and the police went to the shrine at Budiriro 2 Park in Harare to address the issue of denying children formal education by the religious sect.

Chokurongerwa interrupted Bishop Ndanga, prompting him to order his arrest. Chokurongerwa started singing resulting in his congregates attacking the police, ZBC cameraman Relax Mafurutu and others.

A ZBC pick-up truck and a camera tripod stand were damaged.

Source : The Herald