Zimbabwe: Police and Kunonga Thugs Gang Up on Anglican Priests
SW Radio Africa (London)
3 June 2011
The fight over property in the Anglican Church continues unabated as a rogue Bishop expelled by the church, his minority of violent supporters and the police, continue to gang up against the legitimate priests and followers. A total of 16 Anglicans were arrested as police sided with thugs loyal to expelled Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.
Last Sunday a priest loyal to Kunonga forced himself into the house of an Anglican priest stationed in the Mubayira area of Mhondoro. An alert issued by Rev Chad Gandiya of the Diocese of Harare says their priest, Rev Muzanenhamo, was away when the invasion of his house took place.
When the priest came back he immediately took possession of his house. "The police came and instead of arresting the intruder they arrested our priest and charged him with assault. He spent the night in cells and we had to bail him out," Rev Gandiya wrote.
The pattern was repeated in several parts of the country as a newly ordained Deacon was evicted from his church house the same evening. In another incident Kunonga's people broke into the house of Rev Julius Zimbudzana while a meeting of Harare church wardens was taking place. Gandiya says they managed to arrest one of the intruders and took him to the police station.
Gandiya says when they went back to the rectory to be with the priest and to comfort him and his family they were surprised to see that riot police had come and rounded up everyone and took them to Highlands police station. Among the 16 people arrested were priests and 3 women, one of whom was Rev Zimbudzana's mother.
On Friday the group was released on bail following what Gandiya said was a failed attempt by the police to exaggerate the details of the case and come up with charges that would stick. "First they were charged with unlawful entry, then that was changed to theft, and finally public nuisance. It's very sad indeed," Gandiya said.
Among those detained by the police were two who were diabetic and were refused medication. "Thank God that their sugar levels have now stabilized," Gandiya said. Unfortunately for one priest arrested, he failed to sit for a graduate exam.
Kunonga's fall from grace started when he declared his support for Mugabe's violent land reform exercise. He hounded out priests who dared challenge his authority but a church trial around this and other allegations of fraud only collapsed over legal technicalities.
Kunonga managed to endear himself to Mugabe's regime by using the dispute over homosexuality in the Anglican Church as the reason for him breaking away. Mugabe's state security agencies have been providing him with round the clock protection ever since and is able to use this clout to harass members of the church.
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