Zimbabwean pastor arrested for criticising Mugabe gets $500 bail

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HARARE – The Remnant Church pastor, who was arrested for allegedly staging a demonstration denouncing President Robert Mugabe’s 35-year-old rule during the just-ended Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls, has been freed on $500 bail.

Victoria Falls magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa freed Patrick Phillip Mugadza, 45, on Tuesday.

Mugadza is being accused of contravening Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

This was after he allegedly staged a demonstration in the resort town protesting the manner in which Mugabe was handling the country’s affairs.

Patrick Mugadza

Patrick Mugadza

The National Prosecuting Authority alleged that Mugadza, who resides in Kariba, disturbed the movement of Zanu PF party supporters who were on their way to attend the ruling party’s annual national people’s conference in the resort town, by waving a banner with a message denouncing Mugabe’s leadership.

Prosecutor Listen Nare told the court that Mugadza committed criminal nuisance by waving a banner, which read “Mr President the people are suffering”.

The banner also quoted Proverbs 21:13 from the Bible, which reads, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered”.

The prosecutor charged that Mugadza acted unlawfully because his actions disturbed the movement of members of the public.

Mugadza, who first appeared at Victoria Falls Magistrates’ Courts on Saturday December 12 and was briefly freed on summons, returned to court on Monday and was remanded in custody to Tuesday when he was eventually granted bail.

His lawyer Thulani Nkala of Dube and Company Legal Practitioners and a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is challenging the State’s allegations, arguing that the pastor had not committed an offence.

The lawyer argued that his client was exercising his constitutional right as guaranteed under Section 59 of the Constitution which provides for “freedom to demonstrate and petition”.

Magadza’s trial has been set for January 5, 2016.

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