1 February 2013

Tanzania: Ponda Supporters to Meet Over Their Leader's Fate

Photo: Tanzania Daily News
Aftermath (file photo): Religious leaders attacked in zanzibar.

A SECTION of people believed to be followers of Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda yesterday circulated some leaflets calling upon all Muslims to meet on Sunday afternoon in Temeke District in Dar es Salaam to discuss the fate of their leader.

Sheikh Ponda, who is the Secretary General of the Council of Islamic Organization, is in remand prison waiting the conclusion of his trial alongside 49 others, pending at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in the city. He has been denied bail on grounds of national security.

"All Muslims are called upon to meet at Nuurul Yaqiin area at 2pm near Mwembe Yanga grounds on Sunday, February 3, this year," one of the leaflets circulated at the court premises shortly after the adjournment of Ponda's case reads. The leaflet further states, "Our sheikhs are being denied even their rights for bail simply because of defending Muslims' properties.

Let us all meet to show our solidarity and give a common position on what should be done. Justice must be done to all. Send this information to your colleague."

Before circulating such information, the situation at the court premises changed all of a sudden when Ponda supporters started cheering at their leader, while chanting a Muslim slogan, "Taqbir Allah Akbar," as he was being returned to remand in heavily guarded prison vans.

Sheikh Ponda could be seen waving at the crowd while in one of the prison vehicles taking him back to Segerea Prison until February 14, when his case will be mentioned. In the case, Ponda and his alleged followers are charged with conspiracy, trespass and criminal possession of property owned by Agritanza Limited on a plot situated at Markaz, Chang'ombe area in Temeke District.

Other charges, according to the prosecution, include stealing building materials from Agritanza limited including 1,500 bricks and 36 tonnes of aggregate and iron bars, all worth 59.6m/-.

During Thursday's court proceedings, the prosecution called two witnesses to give their testimonies, with one William Milanzi, accounting how on October 12, last year, a group considered to be Muslims invaded the plot, which is claimed to be the centre of dispute in the case.

While the second witness, Hamis Salum, a mason narrated that Ponda came at the area five days before it was invaded and directed all those who were doing some developments on the plot to stop as the area was in dispute. Hearing of the case continues on February 18.

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