- Published on 13 November 2014
- Written by Newsday
ELEVEN of the 37 Johane Masowe eChishanu Apostolic Sect members accused of assaulting police officers and officials from the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) during a raid at their Budiriro, Harare, shrine in May this year were yesterday sentenced to five years in jail, while 26 others were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The 11 convicts — Kudzanayi Kusekwa (31), Cabson Chandaona (43), Takavengwa Gwenzi (46), Tichafa Madyegora (41), Johanes Makumbe (39), Ndumiso Moyo (33), Alexio Kanhema (37), Clement Chimutso (47), Madzimure Madzimure (36), Charles Matanga (42) and Darlington Mambayo (46) — will, however, serve an effective four years after presiding magistrate Tendai Mahwe suspended one year of the sentence.
In passing sentence, Mahwe noted that the sect members acted in a manner that besmirched religion and did not befit members of a church.
"A mob that assaults someone is very dangerous and can lead to loss of life. You are church people and your conduct put religion into disrepute. You assaulted police officers clad in uniform, (so) there is need for courts to send the right message," he ruled.
"The message should be that lawlessness is not allowed in this country. A lengthy term of imprisonment is, therefore, appropriate to show that such acts are abhorrent."
Mahwe also noted that photographs that were produced as exhibits during trial helped to identify the convicted persons.
The sect members underwent trial following the skirmishes that occurred at the church’ s shrine in Budiriro on May 30 following a visit by ACCZ officials to investigate alleged human rights abuses.
The ACCZ officials were accompanied by police officers and journalists.
The church leader, Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani, is, however, still on the run.