HARARE – Activist cleric Phillip Mugadza yesterday challenged a cop who arrested him during his demonstration at Africa Unity Square to identify members of the public who were annoyed by his conduct.
Mugadza is being charged with criminal nuisance after he chained himself to iron rails opposite Parliament, shouting on top of his voice and allegedly disturbing people who passed by the park.
He appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa.
His lawyer Gift Mtisi argued that for the charges to be sustained there must be a complainant annoyed by Mugadza’s actions.
“…his actions must have amounted to shouting or screaming to the annoyance of the public,” Mtisi read out the section his client is being charged.
Cosmas Matanha, one of the arresting details, said he did not need to wait for any complaint to be made against Mugadza because he had witnessed that he was a “nuisance”.
“I was in the company of other police officers on the day in question and when we saw the accused person, we advanced towards him to make an arrest. I had realised that he was vandalising council property through his conduct and had to stop him,” Matanha said.
Mtisi argued that the cleric was exercising his rights as enshrined in section 60 of the Constitution “to practice and propagate, give expression and opinion, or religious belief either alone or with others, in private or in public.”
According to prosecutor Mollen Murozvi-Sibanda, Mugadza disturbed normal flow of business that day because a crowd had started to gather around him.
Murozvi-Sibanda alleged that on November 22 around 4pm, police officers from the reaction group were on patrol at African Unity Square.
The officers proceeded where Mugadza was standing and noticed that he had chained and padlocked himself to fencing rails at Africa Unity Square.
The court heard that Mugadza annoyed Parliament employees and other members of the public.
He was subsequently arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station after being advised of his charge.