Dar es Salaam. There were conflicting reports last night on the health condition of controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda who was reportedly shot and injured by police in Morogoro.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander (RPC) Faustine Shilogile, however, said he had no information on the said shooting of the cleric whose whereabouts were unknown by the time of filing this report.
“I do not know if Ponda was shot although that rumour has spread in Morogoro,” RPC Shilogile told The Citizen on Sunday in a telephone interview.
But Mr Shilogile confirmed that armed police had attempted to arrest Ponda in the town, leading to a confrontation with his supporters who spirited him away in a motorcycle.
“There was a fracas as the mob blocked the police from arresting him, prompting them to open fire. They shot in the air to disperse the rowdy crowd,” said the RPC. Sheikh Ponda was addressing a religious gathering.
Reports that could not be independently verified suggested the cleric sustained bullet wounds during the confrontation and that he had been rushed to the regional hospital for treatment.
According to the reports, the people escorting him to the hospital sneaked him out to escape a police dragnet. Mr Shilogile denied knowledge of this information, saying neither the police nor the hospital officials had information about his whereabouts.
An arrest warrant was early in the week issued for the arrest of Sheikh Ponda over incitement in Zanzibar. The order was issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Ponda is on a one-year suspended sentence relating to a destruction of properties case which requires him not to commit any offence.