A HARARE couple is set to re-do its marriage vows after what appeared to be a marriage ceremony for the pair was solemnised by a bogus pastor, who has since been slapped with a 12-month prison term for masquerading as a marriage officer.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The convict, Philip Tsoka, was yesterday slapped with an effective eight-month jail term after snubbing an option to undergo community service.
“The court looked at the video where you performed the marriage officers’ part and, particularly, the time you made them exchange vows, you were not sober at all as you were under the influence of some intoxicating substance,” Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe said. “The couple lost $3 800 in the fake marriage ceremony and they now have to redo the same exercise.”
Tsoka, however, left the court in stiches when he pleaded with Mahwe to have his jail sentence commuted to community service after apparently having initially refused to go to the community service office for vetting.
In passing sentence, Mahwe said cases of bogus pastors were becoming more prevalent, hence the need for deterrent sentence.
“Cases of fake pastors are on the rise and yesterday (Wednesday) you expressed unwillingness to perform community service and now you have left the court with no option, but to jail you,” Mahwe said.
“You are, therefore, sentenced to 12 months in prison, of which four months is suspended for five years, on condition that within that period you don’t conduct an unauthorised marriages.”
Tsoka was convicted of purporting to be a marriage officer whereupon he solemnised a marriage knowing that he was not a registered marriage officer as required by law.
Immediately after being sentenced, Tsoka told the court he had a request to make.
“I don’t know what possessed me yesterday (Wednesday) when you asked about community service. I made a mistake, can I do that now, considering I have a wife and four children in addition to my ailing mother who all depend on me,” he said.
But his request was not granted. “The court has already made a decision, it will not reverse it,” the magistrate said.
The magistrate also castigated Tsoka for failing to be contrite even during his cross-examination of the State witnesses.
“You did not show any contrition during the trial and that you caused the holding of a full trial when you did not have any defence at all. In addition you showed arrogance in the manner you cross-examined the witnesses,” he said.