Zimbabwe: Mugodhi's Sons Defy Court Order, Face Imprisonment

18 February 2020

The sons of the late leader of Mugodhi Apostolic sect, Tadewu Mugodhi, risk imprisonment after they allegedly defied a court order barring them from interfering with the church's business until pending court cases are finalised.

The sons are Washington, Innocent and Enock Mugodhi who have been accused of causing problems in the church and claiming leadership following of the death of their father.

Tonnie Soigauke, a church member who was appointed acting bishop of the church following a successful court process last year, has hauled the three to court seeking their imprisonment after they went ahead with the coronation of Washington as the church leader despite existence of a court order barring them from doing so.

"The applicant seeks an order from this court to commit the respondents to prison on the basis that they have wilfully disobeyed a valid provisional order granted in this court under case number HC 9748/19," reads Sigauke's affidavit.

"This application is premised on the grounds that the first respondent (Washington) with the support of the second and third respondents (Enock and Innocent) installed himself as the bishop of the applicant at the applicant's national shrine in Wedza.

"This is a complete violation of the provisional order granted under HC 9748/19 in which the respondents were interdicted from interfering with the operations of the applicant," further reads Sigauke's application.

Tadewu had appointed his son, Washington the acting bishop when he was sick, but court ruled what he did was unlawful and in contravention of the sect's constitution.

Washington and his brothers appealed the High Court ruling at Supreme Court and the case is yet to be heard.

After the Mugodhi brothers appealed, Sigauke again successfully sought a court blessing to preside over the church until the case is finalised.

However, the brothers will not allow it and allegedly continue to manage church business as they wish.

Sigauke complained that Washington was on ZBC TV on February 1 this year urging all church members to attend the recent national day of prayer at National Sports stadium and also that his installation was broadcast on the same television channel contrary to the provisional order.

"The order required them not to interfere with the operations of the applicant but they wilfully disobeyed the court order by going ahead with the coronation of Washington as the bishop of the church," he said.

He argued that the effects of wilful non-compliance of the respondents with regards to the provisional order granted are that the constitution of the applicant continues to be violated and confusion continues to manifest within the congregants.

"I am advised by my legal practitioners of record which advice I believe to be true and correct that if a person is held to be in contempt of an existing and valid court order, they can be committed to prison which imprisonment may be suspended on condition that they comply with the order of court," said Sigauke.

He further submitted, "The first respondent's conduct masquerading as the bishop of the applicant is unlawful and shows that the respondents do not intend to comply with the provisional order granted by this honourable court and are therefore in contempt of court."

The application is yet to be heard.

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