Zim sect leader jailed over clashes with police

2015-04-30 18:54
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Harare - The leader of a religious sect which was filmed beating up Zimbabwe police last year in an unprecedented attack has been jailed for five years, the official Herald newspaper reported Thursday.

Footage of the Apostolic sect leader Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani Chokurongerwa's followers chasing riot police in a Harare township and attacking them with their staffs in May last year was greeted with amazement in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe's police force has gained a reputation for clamping down on - and sometimes beating up - government opponents, particularly members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Several policemen were injured in the attacks, which occurred in Budiriro township on May 30.

A number of Zimbabweans privately believed "Madzibaba Ishmael's" followers were heroes because they'd taken on the authorities.

A song about the clashes went viral, while a local film-maker made a film about the incident, titled Kumazowe. Police stepped in to stop it being screened at the Alliance Francaise, a French cultural centre in Harare.

Harare Magistrate Milton Serima on Wednesdsay set aside one year of Chokurongerwa's sentence on condition of good behaviour, the Herald reported.

The clashes broke out when police and other Apostolic leaders tried to close down Chokurongerwa's church because its members were stopping girls going to school and preventing pregnant women from having medical check-ups.

In quotes carried by website NewZimbabwe.com, Harare Magistrate Milton Serima said as he sentenced the sect leader: "You should have led by example as an ordained man of God, but you have ridiculed yourself also.

"Your behaviour of inciting violence, let alone at your own shrine leaves a lot to be desired," the judge added.

Chokurongerwa had tried to argue he wasn't at his church on the day of the clashes.

Eleven members of Chokurongerwa's sect are already in jail.

Herald reader Dick Mboko wrote: "You beat police thugs in Zimbabwe, you get five years in prison. When Zimbabwe police thugs beat you up [for no reason] you get five years in prison on top of being beaten. Which is better?" 

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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