MUTARE High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera has heavily criticised apostolic church sects for their religious extremism, which has contributed to the death of many of their members and violation of fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Justice Mwayera said women and children were the most vulnerable as the apostolic sects hide under the umbrella of religious extremism and hoped that in future sanity would prevail.
She made the remarks in her judgment in a case where a Marange man was facing allegations of causing the death of an apostolic church member after striking him with an iron rod following a misunderstanding sparked by a memory card.
Dennis Sachakaza was hauled before Justice Mwayera facing allegations of causing Aaron Makatare’s death sometime in July last year.
Sachakaza allegedly struck Makatare with the iron rod on his leg ankle following a fist fight at Gonouya Business Centre in Marange.
Makatare sustained a deep wound and compound fracture, which left him bleeding profusely. His relatives quickly whisked him from the business centre and took him to prophet Caleb Machodo’s shrine for healing.
Makatare later died at the shrine after eight days of excessive bleeding after the prophet’s efforts failed. A post mortem revealed that Makatare died of low haemoglobin that led to exsanguination and related hypovolemic shock associated with severe anemia.
“In this case precious human life was unnecessarily lost in circumstances were it would have been avoided,” said Justice Mwayera.
“The right to religion as provided for in the Constitution was irresponsibly exercised to the detriment of the fundamental right to life. What occurred in this case laid bare the evils associated with religious extremism,” she said.
Circumstances leading to Makatare’s death were that on June 27 last year, he approached a visibly drunk Sachakaza demanding his memory card.
Sachakaza did not have the memory card at that time, which irked Makatare before an argument ensued. The argument blossomed into a fist fight.
Sachakaza later armed himself with an iron rod and struck Makatare on his leg ankle leaving him with a wound and compound fracture. He then fled from the scene.
Makatare was then whisked away from the scene by his brothers who wanted to avoid the matter to be taken to the police and ending up taking the injured to the clinic.
Makatare and his brother Joram Makatare are members of an apostolic sect which does not subscribe to medication. They went to prophet Caleb Machodo’s shrine where they found him and other church members. Self-styled prophet Machodo cast wooden splinters on the wound in a bid to stop the bleeding but his efforts were in vain.
“The negligence of leaving a man bleeding to death is so glaring that one wonders why in the 21st century with the fundamental right to life being emphasised people seek to lightly take away the life of others under the umbrella of religious extremism. In a case where death could have been avoided by a clinical intervention to stop bleeding, the relatives just left the deceased to die,” said Justice Mwayera.
Justice Mwayera said she was saddened to note that some apostolic church leaders put on spectacles as clear sign of prescriptions and medical attention.
Sachakaza was cleared by the court of shouldering the responsibility of killing Makatare.
In her judgment Justice Mwayera said Makatare was neglected and left to die and his death at the shrine could not be attributed to Sachakaza’s actions.
“The accused when cornered by the violent deceased defended himself in terms of the law as he is entitled to. He cannot be held criminally liable for the unfortunate eventual death of the deceased,” she said.
Justice Mwayera said the late Makatare authored his demise which was propelled by himself, his brother and the prophet at the shrine.
Sachakaza was found not guilty and acquitted after the court noted that Makatare’s death “was as a result negligence of the religious, fanatic extremists”.