Mugadza criminal nuisance case put on hold

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HARARE – Activist cleric Phillip Mugadza’s criminal nuisance case, in which he is accused of disturbing business in the Harare CBD, has been put on hold because the presiding magistrate is away on maternity leave.


Mugadza — who chained himself to iron rails at Africa Unity Square in protest in the CBD — was represented by Gift Mtisi when he appeared before Harare magistrate Annia Ndiraya.


He anticipated a continuation of the trial.


However, the case was postponed to June 21 pending the presiding magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa’s return.


Mtisi’s main argument is that there must have been people who complained that Mugadza annoyed them, to sustain criminal nuisance charges.


“…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 under.


However, Cosmas Matanha, one of the arresting details, argued that he did not need to wait for a complaint to be made against Mugadza because he personally witnessed the melee.


“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, which is “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 gathering around him.


Murozvi-Sibanda alleged that on November 22 at around 4pm, officers from the police reaction group were on patrol at Africa Unity Square.


They reportedly heard the accused person shouting, thereby disturbing people who passed by the park.


The officers proceeded where Mugadza was and noticed that he had chained and padlocked himself to fencing rails at Africa Unity Square.


It is further alleged Mugadza had positioned himself directly opposite Parliament Building’s entrance along Nelson Mandela Avenue.


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.

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