By Nancy Samuriwo
PROMINENT social media personality Passion Java has stirred controversy and placed himself in the way of possible arrest for breaching provisions of the Police Act.
Java set tongues wagging after he was pictured wearing a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) female officer’s hat, with the unidentified policewoman watching akimbo behind Java.
The cop watched helplessly as Java took away her service hat and flipped it onto his head before getting his assistant snap a photo of him. The image has outraged some Zimbabweans who called for his arrest and prosecution for breaching a provision of the Police Act.
The law says any person who wears a police uniform, badge or button shall, unless he or she is a member of the Police, be guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Java, who styles himself as a preacher and prophet, recently had the nation talking after he was filmed being escorted by a police unit, a service accessible to anyone who can pay the fee for such escorts.
However, wearing a police hat or any regalia is prohibited for non-members of the law enforcement body. According to the Police Act:
Any person who wears any uniforms or distinctive badge or button of the Police Force or anything which might reasonably be mistaken for any such uniform, badge or button as to be likely to deceive, shall, unless — (a) he is a member of the Police Force entitled by reason of his appointment, rank or designation to wear such uniform, badge or button; or (b) he has been granted permission by the Commissioner to wear such uniform, badge or button; be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment. [Amended by Act 22 of 2001, with effect from the 10th September, 2002].
“That’s a clear breach of a very clear law and unless Java can prove he had been granted permission by the Commissioner to wear the Police service hat, any magistrate worth their salt will nail Java without thinking twice,” a Harare lawyer told this reporter, requesting anonymity for professional reasons.
The lawyer cited the 2014 case of Robert Boyiboyi, a Harare resident who was fined US$100 for criminal nuisance after pictures of him which were shot while he was in police uniform went viral.
This was after members of the Johane Masowe weChishanu allegedly assaulted police officers in Budiriro, Harare.
“We have a case of one Robert Boyiboyi was was convicted in 2014 for wearing a police uniform. A Harare magistrate found him guilty and ordered Boyiboyi to pay the fine or serve three months in prison. It’s a solid precedence for a case like this,” she said.
She added: “It will be a surprise though if he is arrested or even cautioned for that, given that politically connected individuals and institutions in Zimbabwe enjoy so much immunity from prosecution.
“But in a country where everyone is equal before the law, Java won’t get away with disrespecting the Police force in that manner. Will the police officer in question be even asked to account for the incident? You bet!”
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono appears particularly incensed over the photo, saying Java waa abusing his close proximity to President Mnangagwa and disrespectful State institutions.
“This fake prophet and clown continues disrespecting the State and its security organs using his proximity to the President of Zimbabwe.
“For how long will the President and his security continue allowing this to happen?” Chin’ono wondered.
He added that Java had reduced Zimbabwe to a laughing stock in the region, adding that “South Africans are laughing at this picture on social media”.
According to his Instagram account, which has over 500,000 followers, he is a prophet and CEO of Kingdom Embassy Church in Zimbabwe.
Java also founded the music label Passion Java Records which pushed back Urban Grooves problem child Roki back into the limelight.
Apart from being a prophet, Java’s other titles include being a socialite and a book author. He was born in Harare on October 29, 1987, and is the youngest of six children.
His mother, Buhera Cristine Rambanepasi Java, was a member of the opposition party MDC Alliance, and his late father, Charles Java, was also in politics.
It is said that when Passion was in Grade 4 in Chitungwiza, he prophesied his own father’s death, warning him not to travel to a memorial service. It was reported that the father disregarded the warning, only for him to die a few days after returning from the service.
Passion is from Java Village in Buhera Central, and his road to ministry started at his brother’s church Tabernacles of Grace, before starting his own church Kingdom Embassy in 2010.
He is known for prophesying and predicting phone numbers and ID numbers of audience members in services.
Passion is married to Lilly Java, and they have three children together.
His lavish lifestyle has previously grabbed the attention of Zimbabwean media, who have criticised his flamboyance and his relationship with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Passion is never shy to show off his tailored suits, designer watches, luxury clothes and sports cars. He also declared this week that he would donate US$5 million to the less privileged.
“This year I have set aside a budget of US$5 million towards helping the less privileged, widows and orphans in Zimbabwe. I will also be assisting entrepreneurs with business loans from this fund, beginning February 2022.
“My life is dedicated to being a blessing to my nation. I am investing in making Vision 2030 a reality, ” he wrote on Instagram.
- Additional reporting by Citizen.co.za