‘Evil hand behind cleric’s detention’

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HARARE – Prominent human rights lawyer Obey Shava has said he suspects an “evil hand” is behind the clerk of court’s denial to accept cleric Phillip Mugadza’s bail money last Friday.


The clerk claimed he wanted to first verify the authenticity of the High Court order.


Mugadza — arrested after allegedly prophesying that President Robert Mugabe will die on October 17 this year — had to endure the weekend behind bars, despite having been freed on $50 bail by High Court judge Priscillah Chigumba.


His attorney, Shava, yesterday told the Daily News that the clerk’s actions were unlawful.


“I am seeing an evil hand behind her (clerk) actions. The clerk’s conduct is clearly unconstitutional. It’s not up to her to question the authenticity of a court order. I am an officer of the court and there is no way I could have misled her, especially in a case which has attracted so much publicity,” he said.


“What confirms the malice and impropriety of her conduct is that if she needed any confirmation, she could have resolved her concern by a mere phone call to the High Court registrar,” Shava said, as he finalised papers for the release of his client.


Mugadza had spent over a month behind bars.


He had remained in custody after being denied bail by Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro on January 19, on the basis that he had the propensity to commit more similar offences.


The Remnant Church leader is being charged with insulting the Christian and African traditional religions, with the State claiming that predicting someone’s death is a taboo.


His trial has been set down for March 30.


Mugadza first hit the headlines in December 2015 when he staged a one-man protest against Mugabe in Victoria Falls during Zanu PF’s national conference at the resort, where he held a placard that read: “Mr President, the people are suffering. Proverbs 21:13”.


His death prophecy has caused palpable anger within sections of Zanu PF — which is riven by its seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars.


The outspoken Mugadza faces six months’ imprisonment or a fine of $200 if he is convicted under Section 33 of the Criminal Law.


In making his controversial “prophecy”, Mugadza had also said that the nonagenarian could escape death by praying fervently, fasting and publicly announcing that he did not wish to die.


“I am not saying I am going to be killing him on October 17, so there is no way anybody can say to me what you have done is wrong. I am not going to be killing anybody, I am only saying what God told me, that he is going to die,” he said then.

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