The fight over control of Anglican Church properties reached frightening proportions yesterday when the Nolbert Kunonga-led faction evicted caregivers at an orphanage in Murehwa, leaving over 100 children in a quandary.
Three caregivers at Shearly Cripps Children’s Home were reportedly forced out of the institution for aligning themselves with the Chad Gandiya diocese, which lost the court battle for the control of the church’s property last year.
According to one evictee, Dorothy Makwarimba, a messenger of court arrived at the orphanage yesterday morning, brandishing a court order for them to vacate.
“The messenger of court ordered us to move out immediately. He had court papers which said the property now belongs to Kunonga and since we are refusing to worship under his diocese, we had to go,” she said.
Reverend Clifford Dzavo of the Bishop Gandiya faction confirmed the evictions yesterday, saying the three were now stranded at Juru Growth Point with their belongings and had been offered accommodation for the night by Good Samaritans at the growth point.
“The orphanage’s matron, librarian and a caregiver who looks after the orphans were evicted today (yesterday). Five other general hands have been given 24 hours to vacate. We now fear for the well-being of the poor orphans who are definitely devastated by this madness,” said Dzavo.
He said teachers at St John’s Mission, under which the orphanage is administered, were also being targeted.
“We understand teachers at the mission who do not worship under his (Kunonga’s) diocese have been told to vacate. This is very disturbing as people should have the freedom of worship. I wonder what the ministries of Education and Social Welfare are thinking about this sad development,” said Dzavo.
Contacted for comment, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Tracy Mutinhiri said the evictions were unacceptable.
“This is very wrong. The differences they have with the other faction have nothing to do with institutions like orphanages because it’s the children who will suffer at the end of the day. Police should intervene to stop Kunonga from disrupting activities at the children’s home,” said Mutinhiri.
However, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said they were not aware of the Shearly Cripps saga. “Nothing has been brought to our attention. I am not aware of this development,” he said.
The Anglican Church evictions started last year when Kunonga won a Supreme Court order to take control of the church’s properties.
Since then, the Zanu PF-aligned bishop has been on a crusade, evicting and replacing priests aligned to Gandiya.
However, the clampdown on institutions like orphanages signals a new dimension in the whole saga.
Strenuous efforts to obtain comment from the Kunonga faction were fruitless yesterday up to the time of going to press.