By Tendai Kamhungira
It is turning out to be a very long walk to freedom for activist cleric Patrick Phillip Mugadza, who has been forced to endure yet another painful weekend in jail, after a clerk at the Harare Magistrate’s Court decided to play hardball with him.
Mugadza’s miffed lawyer, Obey Shava, told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that the obdurate clerk flatly refused to accept the clergyman’s bail on Friday, insisting on “verifying” with the High Court on its ruling to quash the lower court’s earlier decision to deny his client bail.
The incarcerated churchman — who earlier this year made a controversial “prophesy” that President Robert Mugabe would allegedly die later this year – has been wasting away in remand prison since January 19 when he was charged and then denied bail following his arrest for this “prophesy”.
He was finally granted bail by the High Court on Friday, although to his family and lawyers’ disbelief the clerk of court turned away his $50 bail because authorities allegedly wanted to authenticate the High Court order first.
“When we went to pay for his bail, we were told that they needed to first verify the order. We will pursue the matter on Monday (tomorrow),” the unhappy Shava said after High Court judge Priscillah Chigumba had ruled that there were no compelling reasons warranting Mugadza’s continued incarceration.
Mugadza was arrested after he “prophesied” that Mugabe would die on October 17 this year. He has remained in custody after he was denied bail by Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro on January 19, on the basis that he had the propensity to commit more similar offences if given bail.
The Remnant Church leader is being charged with insulting the Christian and African traditional religions, with the State claiming that predicting someone’s death is a taboo.
His trial has now been set down for March 30.
Mugadza 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 one hand and a Bible in the other, in a daring protest action in Harare.
His death prophecy has caused palpable anger within sections of Zanu PF — which is riven with its seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars.
The outspoken Mugadza faces six months’ imprisonment, or a fine of $200 if he is convicted under Section 33 of the Criminal Law.
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.
“I am not saying I am going to be killing him on October 17, so there is no way anybody can say to me what you have done is wrong. I am not going to be killing anybody, I am only saying what God told me, that he is going to die,” he said then. Daily News