Tarisai Machakaire 6 June 2017
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
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
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.