HARARE – A Harare magistrate has denied bail to activist cleric, Patrick Phillip Mugadza, who controversially “prophesied” President Robert Mugabe’s death which he claimed would happen before the end of this year.
The well-known “Mugabe-must-go” churchman was remanded in custody to 3 February.
“ . . . the court ought to strike a balance between the rights of an accused person and interests of justice when considering an accused person’s determination to bail.
“The court had an occasion to view other pending cases against the accused person and satisfied itself that there was a likelihood that the accused person can engage in similar offences if granted bail,” said magistrate Vongai Guwuriro in her bail ruling.
Mugadza is being charged with contravening Section 42 (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, or alternatively criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 (2) (v) of the third schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
He is represented by Gift Mtisi, Obey Shava and Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Shava had argued that the Constitution guarantees an accused person’s right to liberty pending trial unless there are compelling reasons justifying his detention.
He added that other pending cases could not be considered because the presumption of innocence still leaned in Mugadza’s favour since he has never been convicted.
The State accused Mugadza of causing an offence and insulting the Christian religion and the African tradition by predicting someone’s death, arguing it is taboo to do so.
Mugadza was arrested on Monday by detectives from the Law and Order department, days after Cabinet minister and Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, warned that the government would not hesitate to act on reckless prophets.
The clergyman first hit the headlines in December 2015 when he mounted 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”.
In April last year, he also chained himself to a pole while holding a cross in a hand and a Bible in another daring protest action in Harare.