Zimbabwe's Pastor Evan Mawarire is like 'Boko Haram': Witness

2017-10-01 11:16
Pastor Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

Pastor Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

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Zimbabwe's #ThisFlag leader arrested after latest criticisms of economy

2017-09-26 14:24

Evan Mawarire was arrested at his church on Sunday, a day after he went online to urge Zimbabweans to take action to stop the country's worsening economic crisis. He talked about the panic-buying in Harare, and the reemergence of fuel queues. Watch. WATCH

Harare - A key state witness has likened Zimbabwe protest pastor Evan Mawarire to a leader of Nigeria's militant Islamist terror group Boko Haram.

Mawarire went on trial this week at the Harare High Court on charges of subversion for calling for peaceful anti-government protests last year.

"These terrorist-like groups do not just start. It is just like the Boko Haram system," said Martin Runganga, a detective in the Criminal Investigations Department.

"The accused person started by opening a church where he is brainwashing his congregants," he said, in comments carried by NewZimbabwe.com.

Mawarire, who is head of a small church in Harare, shot to prominence last year when he posted a video to Facebook of himself draped in the Zimbabwe flag, voicing his frustrations about the economic hardships and hopelessness facing many Zimbabweans.

He helped to organise a massive stay-at-home protest last July, which shut down towns and cities across the country. He was arrested and detained but later freed. The state pressed fresh charges against him in February on his return from exile in the US. For his trial, the state is relying heavily on the Facebook videos. So far four witnesses have testified against him. Defence lawyer Harrison Nkomo this week challenged state lawyers to point out where Mawarire advocates violence. He said Mawarire had in fact repeated several times in the videos that there should be no violence.

"If someone says no violence why are you fishing for what he said?" the lawyer asked.

Mawarire was arrested last Sunday on separate charges but released on a technicality on Tuesday.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  evan mawarire  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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