Mystery as 20 women from Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine found hiding at secret location

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By Staff Reporter 

CONTROVERSY surrounds the discovery of 20 young women holed up at a house in Harare’s Marimba suburb after they were suspectedly transported from underfire apostolic sect leader, Madzibaba Ishmael, who is under police investigations.

The mystic cleric, whose real name is Ishmael Chokurongerwa, is leader of an apostolic sect, Johanne Masowe eChishanu which has made headlines in recent weeks following his arrest for violating children’s rights and conducting illegal burials at his shrine, Canaan, situated in Nyabira, Mashonaland West province.

In a post on X, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) confirmed the latest twist in the unfolding saga.

“The ZRP is investigating the circumstances in which 20 young women believed to have been taken from Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine in Nyabira have been found hiding at a secret house in Marimba, Harare this afternoon.

“More details to be released in due course as police officers are currently attending the scene,” said ZRP.

Although it could not be independently verified how the 20 women ended up at the Marimba house, it is believed they were whisked away from Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine to conceal evidence of the child marriages and child labour reportedly rampant at the site.

Police are investigating why and how the women were taken from the shrine, who owns the Marimba house and what purpose it served, and those responsible for hiding the young women there.

By time of publishing, specific details about the circumstances leading to the women’s ‘relocation’ — how and why they ended up in Harare remains a mystery.

It is suspected that Madzibaba Ishmael is calling the shots from behind bars and instructing his henchmen to conceal all potential evidence that could nail him.

The powerful clergyman and his seven co-accused, who are jointly charged with two counts of contravening sections of the Burial and Cremation Act and the Children’s Act are languishing in remand prison after Norton magistrate, Christine Nyandoro, recently denied them bail.

His co-accused are Shingirai Ngawafune (42), Takavengwa Gwenzi (55), Zebedia Sigudu (49), Devlodge Katsande (47), Aaron Chokurongerwa (47), Wonder Kabaya (41) and Siribinio Chikurunhe (53).

The group, represented by lawyer Purity Chikanganise, was remanded in custody to April 4 for routine remand.