By Mary Taruvinga
A Harare Magistrate Babra Mateko Monday granted top film producer and Theater in the park founder Davies Guzha along with four accomplices $200 bail after they appeared in court on charges of screening a film that has not been cleared by the Censorship Board.
Guzha is jointly charged with another film producer Tendai Maduwa, script writer Kudakwashe Brian Bwititi, and Theatre in the Park manager Peter Churu.
The State alleges their latest film, Lord of Kush is likely to cause conflict among religious groups particularly between Christians and Muslims.
Through their lawyers Moses Nkomo and Tinomuda Shoko of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the film makers complained that they were not informed of their charges upon arrest. They are accused of violating parts of the Entertainment and Censorship Act.
The court heard the four were held at Harare central Police station without any charges for nearly six hours before they were released and ordered to come back on Sunday morning.
“They were only advised of the charge when their legal practitioners arrived at the station. The accused believe the conduct of the police violated their constitutional rights,” Nkomo said.
Mateko ordered the state to investigate the complaints and report findings to the court.
Prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that Maduwa acting in connivance with Bwititi produced Lord of Kush.
On July 3, Maduwa allegedly advertised the launch of the film in a local publication without applying to a certificate to the Censorship and Entertainment Control Unit.
Mutizirwa told the court that police investigations established that the contents of the film were undesirable as they depicted the abduction of a Zimbabwean ambassador to Pakistan’s child by a certain religious group.
“It was also established that if launched and shown to the world, it would invoke conflicts among religious groups particularly the Christians and Muslims,” Mutizirwa said.
“Checks were made with the Censorship and Entertainment Control Unit who indicated that the accused had not applied for censorship certificate for the said film,” Mutizirwa said.
On July 27 and at Theatre in the Park, Harare Gardens Bwititi and Guzha allegedly approved the film’s launch and publicly exhibited it without approval by the censors.
It is the State’s case that on the same day, the four were approached by police leading to their arrest.