Witnesses clash in trial of church leader Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa


NORTON—In a dramatic turn of events, a witness in the trial of embattled church leader Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa inadvertently labelled another witness a liar during testimonies on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

The State, represented by District Public Prosecutor Tafara Chitambira, has called three out of approximately six witnesses so far. 

However, the performance of these witnesses has been less than stellar. The competence of the defence, led by lawyer Musindo Hungwe, remains a focal point of the trial.

On the second day of testimonies, District Processing Officer Farai Garatsa from the Murombedzi registry offices and traditional leader Sabhuku Nzwanai Musodza took the stand following police officer Sally's testimony on Day 1.

Garatsa recounted his visit to No. 6 Lilly Farm as part of a government delegation led by ZRP Chinhoyi. 

Arriving at daybreak around 5:00 AM, Garatsa and his team stayed in their car while police officers engaged with the church leaders. By 10:00 AM, Garatsa began his work, focusing on verifying allegations of undocumented burials, births, and deaths at the farm.

During his investigation, Garatsa encountered around 400 children and was led to a graveyard where he observed 15 graves. "Instead of mounds of earth, the graves were depressions on the ground and unmarked," Garatsa testified.

Following Garatsa, traditional leader Sabhuku Nzwanai Musodza testified, describing his attendance at five funerals at the controversial graveyard. 

Contrary to Garatsa's testimony, Musodza stated that the graves were mounds of earth with normal markings. 

When asked by defence lawyer Hungwe about the discrepancy, Musodza responded, "That would be a lie."

The trial, which sees Chokurongerwa and seven others facing charges of denying children their right to education, failing to obtain birth certificates, and conducting unauthorized burials, continued with Principal Processing Officer Garatsa facing rigorous questioning from defence lawyer Hungwe.

Hungwe challenged Garatsa on the legal obligations of notifying births and deaths, attempting to shift the responsibility away from Chokurongerwa and his co-accused. 

"How did you satisfy yourself that none of the parents of the 42 children listed in the docket was available to answer for the neglect instead of the eight accused?" Hungwe asked.

The defence also questioned the identification of graves and the presence of remains, particularly focusing on the burial of Hezel Chikunhire. 

"What proof can you provide right now that what you saw are graves, and that the remains of Hezel Chikunhire are in one of them?" Hungwe pressed.

The outcome of these testimonies remains uncertain as Norton resident magistrate Christina Nyandoro deliberates on the answers provided. District Public Prosecutor Tafara Chitambira continues to represent the State in this high-profile case.

Post a Comment