Provincial magistrate Milton Serima dismissed as unfounded Chokurongerwa’s claims that he was not present when his church members attacked police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) when they visited his shrine in May last year.
“The court finds it quite surprising to hear the accused through his lawyer claiming that he was not present when the violence occurred,” Serima said.
“Some of his church members were charged and convicted of the same offence, now that he is aware that his members were imprisoned it is most likely that he will abscond and not attend trial.”
The magistrate further said one would wonder why Chokurongerwa (44) did not show up at the shrine for over seven months after learning that violence had erupted at the shrine if his claim of being absent from the scene was to be believed.
The State alleges that on May 30 last year, ACCZ president Johannes Ndanga, his delegation and 26 police officers visited Johanne Masowe eChishanu’s site at Budiriro 2 in Harare to address the gathering over issues of child abuse.
It is alleged when Ndanga began reading the document, the gathering started singing their church songs and Chokurongerwa challenged him to speak in Shona and not in English.
At that juncture Ndanga is alleged to have ordered the police to arrest Chokurongerwa accusing him of interjecting his speech.
The court heard Chokurongerwa allegedly started singing an inciting song called Umambo hwepfumo neropa (The Kingdom of the Spear and Blood) following which Ndanga, his delegation, police and journalists were severely assaulted.
Eleven members from Chokurongerwa’s church were last November slapped with a five-year jail term each for the same offence.
They have since lodged an appeal against both conviction and sentence at the High Court and the matter is yet to be set down for hearing.