Priest arrested for preaching peace

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A Lupane Roman Catholic Church priest, Father Marko Mabutho Mnkandla, was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly holding a Mass in memory of victims and survivors of the Gukurahundi massacres.

The Mass, which was celebrated on Wednesday afternoon, was attended by Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the co-Minister in the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation.

Mzila-Ndlovu and the priest’s lawyer, Matshobana Ncube, confirmed the incident on Thursday, but said they were not yet sure of the charge preferred against the priest.

Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Trust Ndlovu could not, however, confirm the arrest saying he was yet to be briefed by police in Lupane.

“I have just learnt that my host, Father Mnkandla, has been arrested for conducting the church service. He is being held at ZRP Lupane,” said Mzila-Ndlovu.

Ncube said he had received instructions to represent the arrested priest and was yet to establish the charge.

“I was instructed to attend to him but I am yet to verify what the charge is. I spoke to the officer in charge of Law and Order in Lupane, one officer by the name Chakaoma, but unfortunately he is with me here in Victoria Falls and is yet to find out what the charge is,” he said.

“I have been in touch with (minister) Mzila-Ndlovu who told me that he (the priest) has been transferred to Hwange, which means that I will only be able to see him tomorrow morning.”

During the church sermon, whose audio copy is in NewsDay’s possession, Mnkandla preached about the need for national healing.

“What we want is healing of the wounds in our souls. Only the truth can heal us. You don’t hope to see the people who killed and harassed us here to apologise. That was in 1983. Some have died. How will they come and apologise when they are dead?” he asked rhetorically.

“We want the truth of what happened to be acknowledged and accepted by the whole nation. We want the nation to admit that they know what happened at Silozwi (village) and to acknowledge it so that we heal. We want to be allowed to talk about our pain. That is freedom.”

Mnkandla added: “If we have the bad habit of hiding the truth in Zimbabwe, we are going to remain in perpetual slavery, perpetual oppression. Since I am in God, I fear nothing because God is above everything. Those who oppress me will die, just like me. Do I need to fear them anymore? No, I don’t,” the priest said.