Harare Magistrate Stanford Mambanje on Tuesday 22 November 2022 sentenced 34 apostolic sect members after he convicted them for staging an anti-government demonstration over the troubled southern African country’s worsening economic crisis.
Magistrate Mambanje sentenced the 34 congregants, who belong to Mirirai Jehovha Apostolic Church, to serve three months in jail wholly suspended for five years on condition that they do not within the five years commit another offence involving criminal nuisance upon conviction for which the three months will be added to any penalty that will be imposed without the option of a fine. In addition, Magistrate Mambanje ordered each of the 34 to pay a fine of ZWL12 000 in default of which they will be committed into custody for one month.
The 34 congregants have to pay the fine by 28 December 2022.
The 34 apostolic sect members, who are also members of Zimbabwe Transformative Party (ZTP), an opposition political party, had been on trial after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers on 9 July 2022 and charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
During trial, prosecutors alleged that the 34, who were represented by Evans Moyo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, unlawfully acted in a manner which is likely to create a nuisance by walking on the roads and pavements in Harare’s central business district while singing a gospel song with the lyrics “Emmanuel tisunungureiwo tanzwa ne nhamo” and thereby obstructed the free passage and movement of people and vehicles.
In convicting the 34 congregants on Monday 21 November 2022, Magistrate Mambanje said he was convinced by the testimony of some witnesses who testified during the trial of the congregants, whom he said had no reason to lie and who ordered the ZTP party members to disperse as they were doing something wrong.
The 34 ZTP party members are Simon Goshomi, who is ZTP’s Vice-President, Richard Mhurushoma, the opposition party’s Chairperson, Fortune Chapeyama, who is ZTP’s Secretary-General, Prince Mukozho, Solomon Duwa, Shongai Mushinje, Noah Dabvu, Jasper Muringanidza, Honoured Mutangadura, Sherperd Mutsonhi, Edson Shonhiwa, Chaora Rovesai, Tafadzwa Musere, Tsverukai Harava, Shamiso Majecha, Runia Musere, Margret Chibwana, Sakile Nkomo, Helen Kuudzewe, Liah Munakandafa, Victoria Changadzo, Restar Kunyenzura, Emmanuel Musere, Godfrey Mashava, Givemore Bandera, Pangai Kurehwatira, Edward Mhindu, Leon Mukopfa, Pride Charedzera, Irvin Musenze, Jefta Takaedza, Thomas Zengeya and Felix Zengeya.