Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The lawyer representing Johanne Masowe eChishanu apostolic sect leader Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa yesterday accused a State witness of misleading the court before producing a record of proceedings of the trial of 11 members of Chokurongerwa’s sect to support the claim.
Chokurongerwa is facing public violence charges and 11 of his church members have been convicted for the same offence.
More than six riot police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) were seriously injured after the apostolic sect members attacked them with shepherd’s staffs and stones in Budiriro, Harare, last year.
Chokurongerwa yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Milton Serima for continuation of his trial with the second State witness, a police officer, Chipo Chironga, being cross-examined by his lawyer, Mr Tawanda Takayendesa.
Mr Takayendesa accused Chironga of cooking up evidence which was absent during the trial of the other 11.
In her evidence, Chironga told the court that she saw ACCZ president Bishop Johannes Ndanga talking to Chokurongerwa, adding that he was also the one who asked him (Ndanga) to speak in Shona instead of English saying there was no white person present.
However, Mr Takayendesa produced a record of proceedings and showed Chironga Bishop Ndanga’s evidence during the trial of the other 11 in which he told the court that he had not talked to Chokurongerwa on the day in question.
Mr Takayendesa also opened a page in which another witness told the court that one of the 11 jailed members was the one who ordered Bishop Ndanga to speak in Shona, thereby sparking the resultant violence.
Mr Takayendesa ordered Chironga to comment on the evidence in the record of proceedings and her evidence and in response Chironga said she was testifying on what she saw and was not at liberty to comment on other witnesses’ testimonies.
Mr Takaendesa discredited Chironga’s evidence saying it did not match that recorded last year.
“Witness, you indicated that Ndanga ordered the arrest of accused person after he had interjected him but when Ndanga gave his evidence in this court last year, he disagreed with that assertion,” he said. “… he further denied ever talking with the accused person on that day therefore your evidence contradicts that which is filed on record,” he said.
Chokurongerwa is denying charges of violence and in his defence says he was not present when the offence was committed.
His lawyer said: “He was attending prayers out of Harare and only came back at the end of August last year. Never at any point in time did he incite public violence or advocate for same since he was not there.
“Whatever happened occurred in his absence and as such he had no control over it because he was not part of the congregation.”
Chokurongerwa denied evading arrest at any point and said he was not aware of investigations until his arrest earlier this year.