Cult members back in court

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - THIRTY-TWO members of a cult believed to be a breakaway from the Seventh Day Adventist Church were yesterday back at the courts for their routine remand.

However, the women continued with their defiance by refusing to appear in the dock.

Clad in green prison garb, the women refused to come up from an underground aisle that leads to the dock and continuously sang from there.

The men, including some juveniles, who included three females, were cooperative as they appeared in the dock and even gave their names to the court, but the women led by cult leader, Patience Hama Ncube, did not budge.

Rodrick Mbano (19), Thembelani Dube (23), Thabani Mguni (21), Theo Bekezela Mkandla (20) Darlington Ndaba Chiwara (19), Hloniphani Sibanda (31) Antony Mkandla (18), Thabani Edgar Dube (22), Shamiso Dube (19) and four juveniles, three of them girls aged 17 and 15 and a boy who is 14, whose addresses were not given, were again not formally charged with contravening the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act, when they briefly appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Mr Lizwe Jamela.

The juveniles were remanded out of custody, while the rest were remanded in custody to 27 February, for the court to verify their names and addresses.

Allegations against the group are that on 25 January, their leader, Ncube went to a building society in the city to withdraw all the money in her account.

She allegedly also wanted to close the account on that day.

Ncube was then asked to produce her identity card, but she refused and allegedly claimed that her church did not allow her to use an identity card.

A bank official who served her advised that she could not help her if she did not possess the document.

The State alleges that Ncube was not amused and she refused to leave the banking hall and was referred to the branch manager.

The court heard that the bank manager, a Ms Daphine Lorraine Rodrigues, also told her that the bank could not assist her under those circumstances.

Ncube allegedly told Ms Rodrigues that she would not follow the bank procedures as she had been instructed by God and was doing His will.

When Ms Rodrigues refused to budge, Ncube threatened her and all the bank’s staff with death. She allegedly told them that they would be reduced to ashes if she did not get her money.

It was alleged that she went out of the banking hall and phoned her followers, who arrived at the bank and allegedly congregated on the pavement.

The group started singing religious songs, in the process disrupting the bank’s business.

Police were then called in and took them to Bulawayo Central Police Station.

At the station, the court heard the cult members stood at the main entrance, blocking traffic while singing on top of their voices. Mr Thando Ncube, for the State said the group was advised to leave the police station or risk being arrested but did not give in.

They instead threatened that God would drop a stone at the station, which would strike all the policemen to death.

Mr Ncube said the police asked for the group’s leader so that they could reason with her, but no one came forward.

The group allegedly started poking police officers, who were trying to stop them from being rowdy. They were then arrested but none of them gave his or her name, hence the docket was taken to court without names on it.