A 29-year-old witchdoctor and a 47-year-old woman have appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court for allegedly proposing destruction to Bethel Church on suspicion that there was a Mermaid (ilomba), in the church.

Steven Mwanza, an engineer and witchdoctor and Beatrice Sakala, a housewife, have been charged with one count of proposing violence or breaches of the law to assemblies.

The two have, however, denied the charge.

It is alleged that on January 12, 2020 in Lusaka, Mwanza and Sakala whilst acting together with others unknown, without lawful excuse, by implication, that it would be desirable to propose violence or do an act calculated to cause physical injuries to any person or class of persons or cause destruction to property of Bethel Church.

When the matter came up for plea before Lusaka magistrate Ruth Kapulo, Wednesday, the two pleaded not guilty.

After taking plea, Mwanza who is in police custody, applied for bail pending trial.

He said he has a family who all look up to him.

“And where I work, I left some solar panels and satellite dish. We are mounting Zamtel towers in Chama district,” Mwanza said.

However, State prosecutor Noah Mwanza informed the court that the accused had not provided proof of residence, adding that it would make it difficult for officers to find him should he decide skip court.

And ruling on the bail application, magistrate Kapulo said she had not denied him bail but would only grant it when he provides proof of residence and two working sureties.

“It is important that accused provides an address so that we can find you in case you skip court. I am not objecting to the application but if you find working sureties and address, I will give you bail,” she said.

The matter comes up on March 3, 2020 for commencement of trial.

According to a statement issued by Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo last month, an elder at the said church, 52, has a 30-year-old son who had been sick for some time.

According to Katongo, the elder’s son’s mother in-law took a witchdoctor to his house.

Whilst there, the witch doctor alleged that there was a Mermaid (ilomba) in the Church and that for him to cure the patient, he needed to go inside the Church to perform some rituals.

The Church elder refused to grant him access and this infuriated the mother in-law to the patient and the duo allegedly incited a mob that had gathered.

The mob stoned and set the Church ablaze and also razed down the perimeter wall of the church.

Police rushed to the area and managed to contain the situation but one police officer was stoned and he sustained a cut on the left cheek.

The Church building had its doors and windows damaged while the plastic chairs and some benches were burnt, and some were stolen.