HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSexual abuse rife in local churches

Sexual abuse rife in local churches

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People think if a person is a preacher man, that person knows everything and yet some people are being led astray by these people.

Opinion by Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

On March 16, 2003, some police officers, court officials and prison wardens were assaulted and ran for dear life as pandemonium broke out at the Harare Magistrates’ Court soon after the conviction of prominent Chitungwiza spiritual healer Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira on seven counts of rape and one count of indecent assault. This was the first time such violence had happened at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.

Nzira’s followers, mainly women, loudly shouted: “You cannot do that to our god.”

Nzira was slapped with a 32-year prison term after being convicted of seven counts of rape and one of indecent assault involving two women at his shrine. Many other cases from that sect have not been reported.

I had the opportunity of listening to a sermon by Pastor Godwin Chitsinde of Spoken Word at his church in Belvedere last Sunday where he described some churches and likened them to religious fanatics like Alice Lenshina, the Zambian woman who made her followers drink urine and “fly” from trees before that country’s independence.

The truth was that she had tremendous hypnotical skills which convinced her followers that she truly was a woman of God! Some of the practices Lenshina’s people indulged in was the smearing of own human waste on the body so as to be purportedly invincibile against evil forces. Many people are believed to have plunged to their death from great heights on such “test flights”.

Pastor Chitsinde also spoke about Jim Jones who induced members of his temple in Jonestown, Guyana, where he had relocated from the United States, to drink cyanide, killing a total 914 people, 303 of them children. This resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the September 11, 2011 attacks. Jones raped and made women pregnant who later had the fetuses terminated all in the name of “love your God”. He had become their “god”.

Pastor Chitsinde also spoke at length about the emergence of so-called bishops, prophets and pastors who were fraudsters using the Word of God.

“How can I be quiet? Jesus did not keep quiet when His temple had been turned into a den of thieves where people have their money stolen. Why people are so gullible?

“Such “men of god” suffer from serious mental problems. They are no different from a tsikamutanda (witch hunter) who I challenged in Glendale in 2003. He claimed that he had found the limb of a buried dead child in the house of some well-to-do family.

“When DNA tests were conducted, it was revealed that the limb did not belong to that child. So whose limb was that?
The Daily Nation of Kenya reports that the wife of a self- proclaimed miracle worker, Gilbert Deya, recently pleaded for forgiveness after she started serving a three-year jail term for stealing a baby boy for a childless couple in their church.

“These are the miracle babies that the Gilbert Deya Ministries had become famous for, but anything that is not of God will surely be exposed in no time.”

However, a disturbing trend has been recorded in some of our local churches where “men of God” are sexually abusing women from their congregations and sending them for abortions.

The women are threatened with curses and even death as some of these prophets claim to have the power to kill dissenting voices if they report these cases.

A local bling bling prophet was cited as having impregnated a woman who was taken for an abortion in South Africa. Names of both prophet and victim were mentioned. Pastor Chitsinde said it was wrong for men of God to watch as these “men of God” violate women.

“I will not stop talking about these matters,” he added.

Apostle Benjamin Kwaramba, a Zimbabwean minister of religion based in South Africa, said on Facebook: “Why is it that we hate being corrected? Is rebuke not part of the Gospel? Is being rebuked not better than cheers that lead you into destruction? If I wrote as I have done many times prophetic declarations, I get amen after amen, but once as fathers we stand and rebuke or put order we are rejected, insulted and even threatened. What have we become? I believe in all gifts of the Spirit and they function in my life too, but my life must be aligned to Christ, not the gift for my own glory.”

Veneranda Langa, a NewsDay journalist, interviewed one woman who described how she also lost money at one mushrooming church.

She fell pregnant and was encouraged to abort the foetus by the pastor who impregnated her.

“I am a member of a church being run by a Congolese national (name supplied) and have been a victim of abuse. This pastor slept with me and has been doing that with several other young girls, widows and even married women,” she said.

Director of Women’s Action Group, Edinah Masiyiwa, confirmed she had received this report. Langa reports that Pastor Retina Mlambo of Return to Christ Ministries also said she had attended to several cases of widows and girls who had been sexually abused within the body of Christ.

She also reported that Temba Nzounhenda, the national organising secretary of Varume Svinurai/Madoda Vhukani, said his organisation has attended to cases of females and males who claimed they had been sexually abused by men of God.

  • rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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