A ZANU PF activist found with a firearm at a church function attended by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko stunned the court on Wednesday when he claimed that he was protecting his $2 and R5 cash.
Sweet Sweet, who is also a Nyamandlovu farmer, made the remarks when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Merilyn Mutshina to defend himself after his application for discharge was dismissed last week.
Sweet was arrested on April 4 at the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM Sengwayo) church’s 60th anniversary in Pelandaba suburb after one of Mphoko’s bodyguards, Vumani Ncube, saw a pistol protruding from his jacket.
He had 14 rounds of ammunition. Sweet argued the event was a public gathering and told the court that he was a member of the church.
However, a pastor, Philisani Nkala, indicated that Sweet was not a member of the church, but his parents were.
He said Sweet was caught conducting ushering duties, the job which was assigned to deacons.
But Sweet disputed Nkala’s statement, maintaining that he was a bona fide member of the church.
“In our church, we do not have a register and if someone is baptised, we do not keep records,” he told the court.
“It is not true that I am not a member and I was assigned by the elder and manager of the church, Samson Mukono, to conduct ushering duties.
“I did not even see Nkala on the day, so I do not know where he is getting all this from, as he was not even there when I met
Vice-President Mphoko, (Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister (Eunice Sandi Moyo) and overseer.
“I only dealt with senior pastors and he is just a junior pastor.
“I had cash on me, I had $2 and R5,” Sweet said adding that he had the right to keep the firearm to safeguard the money.
“I went to the VP’s officials and asked them how many they were, so that I could organise chairs for the VIPs
“After organising seats, I went outside and met the VP, minister and overseer getting into the church. I was assigned to be close to the VP.
“I was then called by two VP’s office officials who asked me why they did not get the scarfs.
“I told them that I had given the scarfs to one of the VP officials to give them and they said it was possible the officials could be keeping the scarfs for their wives.”
He said while sitting with the VP’s officials he looked for someone he could entrust with his gun since he had been assigned to sit close to the VP and it was not proper for him to do that while carrying a gun.
“One of the officers said I must produce my gun and I produced it with the magazine which was separate,” Sweet said.
“On giving him the gun, another asked if I was a police officer or army personnel.
“I said, I was not but a farmer and businessman. He asked me why I had a gun similar to those used by the police.
“I said I did not know because I obtained the gun 19 years ago and I did not know if it was similar to the ones he was referring to.”
He said the officer asked if he had a licence and he told him he had, but it was not in his possession on the day.
He said other officers indicated he should not leave his gun with them because they would not know if it had been used in committing crime.
The officers called their boss telling him there was someone with a gun and were advised to take him to the police. Sweet said his gun cabinet was in Nyamandlovu where he ordinarily keeps the firearm.