ZIMBABWE – Twenty-FOUR members of the Johanne Masowe eChishanu apostolic sect charged with assaulting police, journalists and other officials in Budiriro, were granted US$100 bail each yesterday by the High Court, but were still in detention after they failed to raise the money.
Justice Esther Muremba granted the group bail after the Prosecutor-General, through Mr Douglas Chesa, consented to their re- lease. Mr Chesa had proposed the imposition of US$10 bail for each suspect, but Justice Muremba felt it was too little and ordered them to pay US$100.
The suspects’ lawyer, Mr Obey Shava of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni, appealed to well-wishers to chip in and assist with the money for their release.
“Bail was granted by the High Court, but the joy was short-lived as my clients have failed to raise the required US$100 each,” he said. “My clients are appealing to well-wishers for assistance in raising the money. All in all, they need US$2 400 to secure their release.”
It is understood that Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Law Firm is representing the suspects for free on humanitarian grounds. Mr Chesa told the court that US$10 was appropriate under the circumstances considering the sect members’ sources of livelihood.
The church members, according to their doctrine, do not take formal employment and that most of them had poor sources of income.
Justice Muremba blasted the magistrate for wrongly denying the suspects bail where there was no evidence that the complainants’ lives will be endangered by their release.
The court held that the lower court erred in denying the suspects bail for fear of a public outcry when there was no evidence to that effect. Justice Muremba ordered the 24 sect members to report every Monday to Harare Central Police Station and to continue staying at their given addresses.
Allegations against the sect members arose on May 30 when they allegedly beat up members of an entourage led by Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) president Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, that included police officers and journalists. This was after Archbishop Ndanga had read out a letter ‘’banning’’ the church on allegations of abusing women and children.