THERE was drama at the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church in Marlborough, Harare on Thursday after gun-toting security guards allegedly hired by the church’s splinter group led by Reverend Cossam Chiangwa fired gunshots at the Reverend Amon Madawo-led group in a bid to take over the house of worship.
This was despite last week’s High Court judgement which ruled against Reverend Chiangwa, in favour of Reverend Madawo, whom the courts recognise as the legitimate leader of the church. The shooting occurred in the dead-of-night after security guards aligned to Rev Madawo had resisted attempts by Rev Chiangwa’s security men to take over control of the premises.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident, saying investigations were underway.
He said representatives of both church factions had made counter-reports to the police.
“Police are investigating the matter. The problem started when the Chiangwa faction hired a security company (name supplied) to guard the premises in Marlborough and they found that there was another security company (name supplied) hired by the Madawo faction. The Chiangwa security guards tried to enter the premises and they were dispersed by dogs.
“After that, the Chiangwa faction’s security guards phoned their command section which deployed reinforcements. One of these reinforcements fired the shots. The case of assault was reported to Marlborough Police Station by the Chiangwa guards and the Madawo faction’s security guards also made a counter report of the shooting. This is the case the police are investigating and all is emanating from the church fights.”
Giving his church’s side of the story, board member in charge of security for Rev Madawo’s camp, Mr Reggies Nyandoro said:
“I received a call from one of the security details at church advising me that there were armed men outside the gate. They wanted him to open the gate so they could guard the church because Pastor Chiangwa had engaged them to do so. I advised the guard to alert his Control Office and to call ZRP Marlborough,” Mr Nyandoro said.
He said after about 10 minutes the guard called him, advising that the armed men were now very agitated and threatening to shoot him.
“I asked him to put me on speakerphone and spoke to one of the gun-wielding man. I asked him his name and he refused to divulge. He shouted that they had been engaged by Reverend Chiangwa to guard his church and that I should ask the guard to open the gate. He continued to insist on getting the gate opened and I asked our guard to terminate the call. I later heard that they fired gunshots,” he said.
Contacted to give his side of the story yesterday, Rev Chiangwa referred questions to his deacon Mr Thomas Gwatidzo who was at the scene of the incident. Mr Gwatidzo said:
“The matter is currently under police investigations, so I do not want to give too much information that could jeopardise investigations or give ammunition to the other party (Reverend Madawo’s group). I think it is best to leave the matter in the hands of the police for now. All I can say is that this is a small matter. No one was harmed. I think you also understand that it is legal to fire warning shots if one is under attack.”
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