Gender Commission to re-invite submissions against Magaya
Harare (New Ziana) -The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) plans to re-invite submissions from witnesses who could have fallen victim to sexual abuse by Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader, Walter Magaya, after those who had previously come forward withdrew their cases.
The ZGC had in October last year said it was going to start its investigation into complaints of sexual abuse against the man of cloth after the Supreme Court had dismissed his appeal against the intended inquiry.
Magaya had approached the Supreme Court challenging a 2019 High Court ruling that authorised the ZGC to investigate allegations of sexual abuse levelled against him.
Following a deluge of complaints against the cleric, the ZGC in 2019 issued General Notice 1444 inviting victims to come forward as part of its investigation to ascertain how widespread the allegations were.
Magaya approached the High Court seeking an order to bar the ZGC from conducting the inquiry, arguing that it did not have the mandate to do so and that it was a violation of his constitutional rights.
The High Court ruled in favour of the ZGC continuing with its investigation, prompting Magaya to approach the highest court in the land.
In her judgment, Justice Anne-Marie Gowora said the High Court ruling should be upheld, since barring the ZGC from conducting investigations would be a violation of the law.
However, nine months after the SC ruling, the ZGC says it has not been able to open the inquiry, after the witnesses who had responded to its 2019 General Notice withdrew their cases against the man of cloth.
“We are arranging to re-advertise, inviting witnesses to come forward. It has been a long time since we gazetted and the witnesses who had come up have since withdrawn,” said ZGC chairperson Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe.
Sangarwe said the commission had initially agreed to summon Magaya for a hearing but decided against it, since there were no witnesses.
Asked when the commission would re-advertise for submissions, Sangarwe said; “It is going to be sooner rather than later, but that is something that is in the process.”
Magaya has been embroiled in sexual impropriety scandals involving several of his female congregants over the past few years, including the 2019 deluge of complaints which prompted the ZGC to issue the General Notice announcing its intention to investigate him.
His tribulations began in 2014, when Denford Mutashu slapped him with a US$500 000 damages lawsuit for allegedly being involved in an adulterous relationship with his wife.
Magaya reportedly coughed up US150 000 to induce Mutashu, who later divorced with his wife, to withdraw the lawsuit.
In 2018, Magaya appeared in court facing rape charges, unlawful termination of pregnancy and obstruction of justice after the victim, a former Midlands State University student, later withdrew the charges.
When the state began processes to proceed with the trial, saying it had evidence showing that he transferred $100 000 into her account in order to buy her silence, Magaya appealed to the Constitutional Court against the decision.
He argued that the state could not proceed with the trial after losing the complainant and sole witness, but the apex court dismissed the application for being faulty.