Thursday, 5 June 2014

We were tortured: Vapositori

HARARE - Members of the of the Madzibaba Ishamea Mufani’s Johanne Masowe Church, who thumped police officers and journalists last week, have made sensational claims that they were tortured while in custody by vengeful law enforcement agents.

As 24 of them yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe, who quashed the State’s request for the rampaging sect members to be released on free bail, the Vapositori looked distraught and pitiful as they entered court.

“We were assaulted from the day of arrest at remand prison. The police fired shots at us though we never resisted arrest. We have been denied food for the past two days and only had little to eat this morning when we were coming to court,” one the them told the court.
Vapositori church members clash with anti-riot police in Budiriro.
IN SINGLE FILE: Part of the group of 24 Vapositori are escorted by anti-riot police and detectives into the Harare Magistrates' Courts. Pic: Annie Mpalume

The magistrate ordered an immediate investigation into the torture allegations.

But their plea for bail was rejected by Chikwekwe, who ruled that their release would jeopardise the course of justice, trigger public chaos and endanger their own safety.

Prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri, had made an application for the 24 Vapositori, facing charges of public violence, to be released on free bail, but Chikwekwe, who had previously denied bail to three others, ruled otherwise.

Emmanuel Sigauke, 37, Laston Marandure, 23, John Murahwa, 36, Taurayi Supiya, 36, Shadreck Mashonganyika, 25, Robert Paradzayi, 35, Tafa Chakwara, 36, Kudzanai Tichaona Kusekwa, 31, Cabson Chandaona, 43, Alton Makando, 31, Ashton Chinhoyi, 31, Abisha Mutandwa, 30, Brian Machingura, 18, Nathan Muparadzi, 39, Takavengwa Gwenzi, 46, Tichafa Madyegure, 41, Munaro Singadi, 42, Ziwanayi Nyatikonde, 30, Johannes Makumbe, 39, Paul Mupikata, 32, Simango Mharadza, 45, Tachiva Munemo, 37, Regis Bute, 31, and Clephas Muwona are charged together with Milton Murinda, Dennis Banda and John Mutasa, who are already in custody, over the same charges.

Speaking in Shona, the Vapositori, who ran amok last Friday when they bashed police officers and journalists, all raised concern over the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

While the State had opposed bail for the three, who appeared in court on Monday, it was not opposed to free bail to the 24 who will however, have to come back to court on June 16 after Chikwekwe had questioned the State’s flip-flopping.

“The State is not opposed to bail, however, the court is of a contrary view. The release of accused persons will not only jeopardise the course of justice but also threatens the safety of accused persons,” he said.

“They have all made serious allegations of assault and the State should investigate the matter. Accused persons should also be medically examined by a government doctor.”
Vapositori church members clash with anti-riot police in Budiriro.
“It seems the State is blowing hot and cold at the same time. Less than 12 hours ago, they successfully opposed bail for three other suspects facing a similar charge and I am surprised that they now want the accused freed on bail today,” added Chikwekwe.

The State’s initial bail opposition was based on the fact that the first three accused persons’ ages or names could not be ascertained — amid allegations that they were forced by their church leader to burn their national identity cards as part of their church doctrine.

There were also fears that the accused persons could take flight or interfere with investigations upon release.

Allegations against accused persons arose on May 30 at Budiriro 2 Park, Johane Masowe Echishanu Madzibaba Ishamea’s shrine.

ACCZ president Johannes Ndanga and a 26-member delegation comprising police and journalists went to the site to address the congregation over issues of women and child abuse.

Part of the congregants challenged Ndanga to read his speech in Shona claiming they were not conversant with English.
Vapositori church members clash with anti-riot police in Budiriro.
Ndanga then ordered police to arrest one of the congregants who kept interjecting as he read the speech.

Other congregants then began singing an allegedly, “violence-inciting song” called Umambo hwepfumo neropa, before all male congregants armed with shepherd’s crooks of about one metre long started charging at Ndanga.

Accused persons then started throwing stones and assaulting police officers, ZBC journalists Relax Marufu and Tichaona Meza and an ACCZ delegate Langton Muchena. They all sustained serious injuries.

A ZBC truck was damaged on the rear and front windscreen, and a tripod camera stand valued at $1 350 was damaged.
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