By Desire Ncube
Jailed Johanne Masowe eChishanu Apostolic Sect leader Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani Chokurongerwa says he has repented from his evil ways, while also forgiving those he once accused of orchestrating his incarceration.
Madzibaba Ishmael is serving a four-year jail term at Chikurubi Farm Prison for leading attack on police officers, journalists and members of the Archbishop Johannes Ndanga-led Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe at his Harare shrine in 2014.
Archbishop Ndanga was trying to close down Madzibaba Ishmael’s sect over allegations of abuse of women and children by the latter’s followers.
Since being found guilty of public violence, Madzibaba Ishmael blamed Archbishop Ndanga and his followers for his incarceration.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail Religion at an inmates’ baptism service at Chikurubi Farm Prison last week, Madzibaba Ishmael said he had realised that holding grudges was a sin.
“When I came here I had a tough time because I had a lot in my heart, I had too many grudges. But through interacting with others inmates and prison officers, I have decided to be realistic.
“I came to a point of self-introspection and I realised that I did something wrong and I have to face the consequences. It’s difficult to accept, but that is reality.
“After all, I have accepted that everything in life happens for a reason. I have accepted my wrong doings and I have forgiven all those I have been accusing for my imprisonment,” Madzibaba Ishamael said.
He said the experience had helped his spiritual growth and development.
“I am now praying for everyone; even Baba Ndanga ndinovanamatira (I also pray for Archbishop Ndanga),” he said.
Asked about the abuse of children in his sect, which included barring them from attending conventional schools, Madzibaba Ishmael said they were in the process of correcting some of the wrongs when the ACCZ swooped.
“Zvimwewo hazvo zvaitaurwa pamusoro pekereke handizvo. Vana vedu vanoenda kuzvikoro uye vane mabirth certificate nezvitupa. “Takange tiri pabishi rekugadzirisa zvimwewo zvidiki pakaitika nyaka nyaka dzese idzi. (Some of the allegations pertaining to our church were not true. Our children go to school and have birth certificates. We were busy addressing the other concerns raised),” he said.
Madzibaba Ishamael, who will be released in 2018, said he was taking things one day at a time.“ 2018 is not far because we are taking one day at a time. We are doing everything we can to praise God while we are here and I am sure our chaplains can testify on that,” he said with a smile.
“There is freedom of worship here; we are free to conduct our prayers anytime. We were never compelled to join any other church be it Pentecostal or what we are happy about that too,” he said.
Commenting on the well-being of his sect without him, Madzibaba Ishmael said things were moving well.
“I am getting updates on how the church is performing … just now I was attending to some of our church members and they told me that the church is moving on well. As you might be aware, we are not a single-leader church. Believers are meeting in Budiriro (in Harare) and the gospel is being preached,” he said.
Madzibaba Ishmael was convicted along with 11 sect members who are serving four-year jail terms at Chikurubi Farm Prison in Harare. Vioence broke out after Madzibaba Ishmael challenged Bishop Ndanga to speak in Shona at his shrine.
He then led a song, “Humambo Hwepfumo Neropa” (“Kingdom of the Spear and Blood”), spurring his followers to assault police officers and ACCZ officials who had come to shut his operations down, as well as journalists covering the matter. The Sunday Mail