Madzibaba Ishmaell told a Harare magistrate yesterday that his church doctrine does not allow him to use any form of electronic media, and was unaware of repeated announcements on State radio and TV that police were on the prowl for him ostensibly because he was a fugitive from justice.
Mufani is being charged with public violence after members of his sect last year attacked journalists, police officers and Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) officials who had gone to shut down his church over allegations of child and women abuse.
Harare magistrate Milton Serima will hand down his bail ruling today.
Eleven of Mufani’s followers are serving four-year jail terms each after they were convicted on the same charge.
The State insisted that he must be remanded in custody because he could abscond trial.
Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizirwa argued that Mufani was not a suitable candidate for bail, saying he has been on the run since May last year.
“On the face of allegations, accused person elected to flee instead of clearing his name, thus he cannot be trusted to attend trial if bailed out,” Mutizirwa said.
“He is also misleading the court that he was not present on the day of the offence yet he is actually the one who incited singing of the song Umambo hwepfumo neropa and induced his congregants to start violence.”
Mufani said he was a perfect bail candidate because he is of fixed abode, leads a church and also stays in Chigogodza Village in Murewa where he was arrested.
He said his church doctrine does not permit use of cellphones and television sets, hence he was unaware that police were looking for him.
“Despite the sensationalisation of this case, the accused person has a right to his freedom because this is not a third schedule offence,” he said through his legal counsel.
“He is also aware of the 11 that were convicted and since witnesses in this matter are members of the police force, it would be far-fetched and unrealistic that he would interfere with them.”
Allegations against Mufani arose on May 30 when an entourage led by ACCZ executive president Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, that included police officers and journalists, was beaten up by the Vapositori.
This was after Ndanga had read out a letter banning the church on allegations of abusing women and children.
The congregants challenged the ACCZ leader to read his speech in Shona, claiming they were not familiar with English.
Ndanga then ordered police to arrest one of the congregants who kept interjecting as he read the speech.
Other congregants then began singing Umambo hwepfumo neropa, before all male congregants armed with shepherd’s crooks charged towards the “trespassers” and assaulted them.Dailynews