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Shut down cult abusing women, girls — says village headman angry over apostolic church

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By Staff Reporters


A TRADITIONAL leader from Mashonaland West province is pleading with authorities to intervene and immediately shut down Madzibaba Ishmael’s apostolic church, which allegedly wantonly tramples on children’s rights to education, health and accessing birth certificates.

Members of the Johanne Masowe eChishanu sect led by Ishmael Chokurongerwa, popularly known as Madzibaba Ishmael, are currently languishing in remand prison facing multiple charges ranging from child abuse to violating the birth and deaths registration laws of Zimbabwe.

Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, headman lnzwanai Musonzwa of Mhondoro village at Nyabira, Mashonaland West province said government must step forward and enforce laws, which protect and fight for the rights of children and women.

He highlighted that Madzibaba Ishmael’s questionable church allows child marriages and abuse of minors, which are affecting many underage children in the village.

The traditional leader expressed his dismay during an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com sister outlet, Destiny TV.

“There are child marriages happening at the church, therefore l am asking for the protection of children from abuse. Many underage girls are being married off and falling pregnant, with some dying at the shrine during childbirth since they are not allowed to seek medical attention at hospitals,” the headman lamented.

Rampant abuse at Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine comes after the  controversial exhumation of Hazel Chikurume’s remains following her suspicious death at Lily farm while delivering.

Allegations are rife that Chikurume’s rushed burial was a cover up by the apostolic church, which is accused of abusing women and allowing child marriages among congregants.

The headman emphasised that the religion is allowing abuse of women and girls since it permits polygamy.

He said the practice allows polygamous marriages where men are allowed to marry as many wives as they desire, and awkwardly sleep with all of them in one bedroom and be openly intimate.

Alice Chapungu, wife to the headman who is also a village health worker, echoed her husband’s sentiments and called on the Ministry of Health and Child Care to make sure all minors get the healthcare they needed.

“The church forbids children and adults alike from going to hospitals when they fall sick and this is leading to early and preventable deaths, mostly among children.

“As a village health worker l fight for the rights of the children. I want every child to be safe, healthy, and able to attend school.

“So if we get help from various government arms, things will normalise for children in the Nyabira area,” Chapungu said.

Meanwhile, two women from Madzibaba Ishmael’s apostolic sect recently appeared in court facing allegations of human trafficking and were released on US$50 bail by Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei.

Allegations are that Danai Tigere (56) and Veronica Chitanda on March 13, 2024 Chokurongerwa and his seven accomplices were arrested by police for contravening the Burial and Cremation Act and Children’s Act at Plot Number 6 Lily Farm, Nyabira.
It is further alleged that on March 28, police received information that the duo was harbouring people suspected to be from the  sect at house number 40 Ngamera Street, Mufakose Harare.
On March 29 at 3am, a raid was conducted at Tigere’s residence where Previous Zogara (20), Precious Tichaona (20), Memory Matanga (19), Rutendo Chimuti (24), Vimbai Mufani (21), Melody Chirinda (20), Nomusa Tichaona (18) and two minors were rescued by the police.
On being interviewed, the duo failed to give a satisfactory answer as to why they were keeping the nine, leading to their subsequent arrest.