Zimbabwean police violently disperse religious group in Harare

May 5th, 2008 - 7:26 am ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, May 5 (DPA) Zimbabwean police violently dispersed a group of people aligned to the new head of the Methodist church who were attending a service in Harare Sunday and arrested a clergyman who was presiding over the service. About 20 armed riot policemen had descended on the group aligned to the new head of the Harare diocese, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, and ordered them to disperse before arresting Reverend Farai Mutamiri. They bundled him into a police truck and drove him away.

Those who tried to resist the order were beaten up with batons. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment regarding the reason for the arrest of Mutamiri and his whereabouts.

Recently High Court judge Rita Makarau ruled that both church members aligned to axed bishop Nolbert Kunonga and Bakare must share the St Mary’s Cathedral church.

Kunonga’s faction had attended the service early morning inside the church building and the Bakare faction was scheduled for mid-morning in the church courtyard.

Kunonga has not made secret his sympathy for President Robert Mugabe’s government and its policies, which handsomely rewarded his support by giving him a farm seized from its former white owner.

He has resisted his expulsion from the church and formed a splinter church group after his ousting.

Since the wrangle started armed police have been called to disrupt church services in Harare, arresting at least three priests and a number of parishioners opposed to Kunonga who fell for the police bait and openly challenged the decision to allow the disgraced bishop to take over against the will of the people.

There was also a heavy deployment of secret security agents to attend the Bakare faction services.

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