HARARE – Cleric Phillip Mugadza yesterday took exception to charges of allegedly prophesying President Robert Mugabe’s death at the commencement of his trial.
Mugadza is answering to charges of insulting or grossly provoking a particular race, tribe, place of origin, colour creed or religion and alternatively criminal nuisance.
A preacher in the tourist resort town of Kariba, Mugadza told journalists in January that he had received a prophecy from God that Mugabe would die on October 17.
Mugabe’s nephew Robert Zhuwao, Chief Beperere (born Alfred Tome) of the Zvimba clan and Chief Negomo (Lucious Chitsinde) were billed to testify against Mugadza before the application was presented.
Mugadza’s lawyer Obey Shava objected to proceeding with the trial on the basis that the State had generalised the offence and failed to fully outline facts that constitute the charge he faces.
“Asking an accused person to guess or speculate the race, tribe, place or origin, creed or religion which was caused offence is obviously prejudicial.
“The State has failed to provide a statement of the short and distinct nature of the offence in question or…providing sufficient detail of the set of persons who the accused is alleged to have caused offence,” Shava argued in court.
“The accused is unable to prepare and present a defence since the letter of the law has not been followed.
“It is vague and embarrassing as it leaves the accused person confused and speculating as to the true nature of the charge he faces and the case he has to answer.”
Shava further argued that the alternative charge of criminal nuisance was vague and not reflective of distinct requirements necessary for a person to be charged under that section.
“The charge sheet does not indicate if the accused person is charged with employing means likely to interfere with the public’s ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet or with doing any act likely to create a nuisance,” Shava said.
“It is vital to recall that the provision of sufficient detail of the charge to an accused person as well as facilities to prepare a defence are now constitutional rights as shown by sections 70 (1) (b) and (c).”
Mugadza was freed on $50 bail earlier last month, after spending over a month behind bars after his arrest in January following the controversial “prophesy”.
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.