Examples abound of women falling into the same trap, as it seems prophets are using this method to solicit for sex from desperate women, fitting perfectly into the phrase that renowned writer, William Shakespeare coined to describe what he saw as an apparent weakness in women.
With social problems mounting over the past decade, many people have taken to religion as an escape route out of their troubles and the unfortunate have fallen victim to the wolves in sheep skin who take advantage of such situations.
The most infamous person, who reportedly took advantage of women’s desperation should be Godfrey Nzira who was convicted of raping seven women, taking advantage of his lofty position in one of several apostolic sects.
Nzira was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2003, but was released seven years later on a presidential pardon, in what many claim was because of his close links with Zanu PF.
Most of these cases border on craziness, only serving as an illustration of the low levels of desperation people would have reached, that they are willing to do anything to get help.
In one bizarre case a prophet is reportedly said to have led to the separation of a family that was seeking help because they faced marital problems.
The prophet, Emmanuel Musonza allegedly invited the couple to his home for counselling, where he told them that the spirits were against their marriage and they should separate.
Unbeknown to the couple, the healer’s main target was to sleep with the wife and now Musonza faces rape charges. In another case self styled prophet told a family that their 16-year-old daughter was possessed by evil spirits and should be brought for exorcism immediately.
Since the “Man of God” had spoken, the lass was taken to the prophet, with the parents oblivious to the fact that their daughter was like the proverbial sheep being led to the slaughter house.
Aaron Mutsemu, the false prophet, reportedly told the girl that if she dared report that she had been abused, the family would suffer bouts of ill fortune.
The victim, however, took the chance and reported the case leading to the prophet’s arrest. But in some cases the women do not report and instead the cases only come out when they have been infected or passed the diseases to their spouses.
A leader of an association of apostolic churches, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described pastors who took advantage of their flock as fake.
He said a register of such preachers should be created so they should not be allowed to preach.
“There should be a list of such fake pastors and they should be barred from preaching,” he said. “Some countries have sex offenders registers and that could act as a deterrent.”
The pastor said it was difficult to control the number of prophets or register them as new sects mushroomed daily.
Vimbai Njovana, an advocacy officer at Msasa Project, said they had received a number of such cases and all they could do was to raise awareness and encourage the women to report the abuse.
“No one should be subjected to such treatment, we have to raise awareness so that they report such cases,” she said.
Njovana conceded that it was difficult for abused women to report rape cases to their spouses because of the patriarchal nature of society.
As the philosopher Karl Marx said “religion is the opium of the masses,” many more women, probably led by “blind faith” are likely to fall into the lures set up by false prophets.
POLICE MUST INVESTIGATE THE CROOKS- CHAVHUNDUKA
Leader of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (Zinatha), Gordon Chavhunduka described such healers as “crooks and unprofessional”.
“In such cases we bring in the police to help with investigations as these people are crooks and are unprofessional,” he said.
Chavhunduka said in such cases healers were summoned to disciplinary hearings and in most instances were expelled from the association.