By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
03 May 2013
The selective application of the law was apparent this week. Members of the Johane Masowe church were being hauled to court for beating police officers, while officers watched as ZANU PF youths destroyed the church’s shrine.
As three members of the Masowe sect were being remanded in custody Monday about 100 youths raided the church’s shrine where they destroyed all the artifacts they found on the site in retaliation of the bashing of the police and state journalists by worshippers last week.
The police watched as the marauding youths ransacked the site and destroyed everything, including the shepherd staffs which were used in the fight with the police last Friday. ZANU PF provincial youth Chairperson Godwin Gomwe said beating the police was akin to beating President Mugabe himself. Gowme claimed that the ZRP was ‘set up’ by his party and the officers were therefore ZANU PF.
The fight between the police and the worshippers happened when the President of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe, Johannes Ndanga, told hundreds of the sect members at their holy shrine that he had banned the church for abuse of women and girls. He was in the company of 20 anti-riot police.
But by Tuesday none of the youths who raided the Budiriro-based shrine had been nabbed for violent behavior. Instead 24 more members of the Masowe sect appeared in court under heavy anti-riot police guard.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said in remanding the 24 in custody the magistrate said their lives were in danger following the violence occurring in Budiriro where they come from.
Muchemwa said some of the members of the Masowe sect told the court that they were heavily assaulted while in police custody with some of them barely able to walk. The magistrate ordered that they have medical treatment.
But the issue of the Masowe sect has caused moral discomfort in the country where instead of condemning the church’s alleged violation of the rights of women and children the public chose to celebrate the beating of the police.
Among some of the allegations against the church are forced marriages, virginity testing and a range of other rules which include a ban on seeking medical attention for sick babies.
Observers have said the public’s reaction was unfortunate, but it underlined the extent of state repression against civilians. They said when a state is seen as the chief purveyor of violence, this was bound to happen.