Detained Lupane Roman Catholic priest, Father Marko Mabutho Mnkandla, who was arrested last week for allegedly addressing a political rally in church missed his church’s Palm Sunday service on Sunday as he spent his fifth day in custody.
Palm Sunday marks Christianity’s Holy Week leading to Easter holidays.
Fr Mnkandla is now expected to appear in court tomorrow. He is accused, among other things, of holding a public meeting without police clearance. He was arrested after conducting a Mass for victims and survivors of Gukurahundi at his Lupane parish last Wednesday.
The alleged meeting was attended by Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the co-Minister in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
The minister has also been arrested and detained at Lupane Police Station over same allegations.
Mnkandla’s lawyer, Nikiwe Ncube, told NewsDay her client was being charged of convening an illegal meeting, publishing falsehoods against the state, publicising hate speech against Shona people in contravention of the Public Order and Security Act and possessing pornographic material.
Meanwhile, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Matabeleland, Archbishop Alex Thomas, yesterday said he was yet to get the full details surrounding the arrest of one of his priests.
“As far as I was informed he was arrested at Lupane after a church service. At present I do not have much detail. I am collecting information from the lawyers,” he said.
Thomas said it was normal for men of the cloth get arrested, adding: “There is no one who is above the law in a country.”
According to the Bulawayo archdiocese website, Mnkandla is a senior and influential priest in the archdiocese who sits in the pastoral coordinating team, diocesan consulters and the liturgical committee and is the coordinator in the Regina Mundi rural deanery.