Lloyd Mbiba and Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Members of Madzibaba Ishamea Mufani Johane Masowe Church, who battered police officers and journalists using their shepherd’s crooks on Friday, have abandoned their shrine, with the church leader reportedly on the run.
When the Daily News crew visited the shrine yesterday, not a single person was in the vicinity, with abandoned shepherd’s crooks, dirty white garments, worn out shoes, and rotting food still stashed in lunch boxes lying at the shrine.
Fearful church members have abandoned the church, with roads leading to the shrine bereft of any human activity while other small churches in the vicinity went about their Sunday service.
The police have finally moved in to calm spiralling tensions surrounding the shrine following bloody violence on Friday.
Police have launched an initiative to resolve the impasse amid fears of further violence.
The vapostori have deserted the sacred shrine days after trouble flared following violent clashes which saw anti-riot police coming under attack and fleeing for dear life.
Police officers and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) were injured following protests against a decree to ban the church. The embarrassing assault of police officers has culminated in the arrest of dozens of sect leaders in connection with the violence.
It is thought that the ACCZ will attempt to broker a local resolution independent of the police, but maintain the church is banned.
Police have vowed to bring to book any person fingered in the violence. And as investigations continue, most of the church members have vanished.
The sect had to forego their crucial Sunday service, as law enforcement agents have turned on the heat.
Residents of Budiriro 2 said the tension that was created by the mayhem has since dissipated and were going about their business without any hindrances.
The ACCZ, whose ban message to the shrine delivered in the company of police and journalists incensed the vapositori, maintains it will not tolerate the abuse of women and children.
Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, head of the Administrative Court, said the church remains banned notwithstanding the members’ violent reaction.
“They have deserted their homes, but it should be understood that we are there to save the children because there is rampant abuse in this church,” Ndanga said.
“We are hunting for the church leader who has also fled his home and there is a prize.”
The vapositori accuse ACCZ of being provocative and interfering with their church business.
The church is said to have denied over 400 children of school-going age access to education.
“Further, the church practiced ‘operation recovery’ in which church elders were demanding that all girls married after losing their virginity must be sent back to their parents’ homes,” Ndanga said.
“You force your congregants to sell their properties so as to guarantee them entry into what is termed Canaan,” he said as he announced the ban of the apostolic sect.
“There is severe abuse of church congregants and their families or relatives by way of not allowing pregnant women to attend either ante-natal and or post-natal care from trained medical personnel as this is regarded as satanic.
“You coerce church members not to possess technological gadgets such as television sets and cell phones under unfounded religious claims where Madzibaba Ishamea is calling himself ‘God’.” Daily News