Vapostori attacking ZBC camera person (photo: Newsday).

Vapostori attacking ZBC camera person (photo: Newsday).

ELEVEN members of the Johanne Masowe weChishanhu church who beat up police officers in May have been sentenced to four years in jail.

Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe acquitted the other 26 apostolic sect members who were jointly charged with their colleagues on charges of public violence.

The Vapositori members assaulted police officers, journalists and leaders of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) at their Budiriro shrine in May after they attempted to ban the church.

In jailing the 11 others, the court ruled that the group had put the reputation of their church at stake.

“A mob assaulting someone is very dangerous and can lead to loss of life. You are church people and your conduct put religion into disrepute. You assaulted police officers clad in uniform; there is need for courts to send the right message,” Mahwe said.

“The message should be that, lawlessness is not allowed in this country. A lengthy term of imprisonment is therefore appropriate to show that such acts are abhorrent.”

After the sentence, the shell-shocked group looked bewildered in the dock, pondering over their next move while family members who were in the public gallery could not help but stare vacantly at the magistrate.

The sect members were on trial after turning their Budiriro shrine into a war zone on May 30. The attack came after ACCZ officials, led by Johannes Ndanga, banned the church accusing it of violating children’s rights by denying them access to education.

10383950_637518222992318_1086096894271456773_n“In assessing sentence I took into account that all of you are first offenders and parents with responsibilities.

“However, I also took into account that you assaulted ACCZ delegates, journalists and police officers using sticks and stones,” Mahwe said in his judgement.

Mahwe said photographs produced in court positively identified some of the accused while in the act.

The incarcerated persons are; Kudzanayi Kusekwa, 31, Cabson Chandaona, 43, Takavengwa Gwenzi, 46, Tichafa Madyegora, 41, Johanes Makumbe, 39, Ndumiso Moyo, 33, and Alexio Kanhema, 37), Clement Chimutso, 47, Madzimure Madzimure, 36, Charles Matanga, 42 and Darlington Mambayo, 46.

During the trial, one of the accused, Gwenzi, claimed they were being victimised as part of the ongoing Zanu PF factional fights after they declined to back Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

But State prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri said Gwenzi was trying to use politics as an escape route from the criminal offence committed.

“You want to hide behind politics, thinking that by bringing names of politicians into this, you would escape. You are wrong,” said Mukumbiri during his closing submission.

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