NOTHING could illustrate more succinctly the lawlessness that now appears inherent among some sections of society than the dramatic images of wild members of a little known Apostolic sect bludgeoning anti-riot police squads in broad daylight in Budiriro on Friday.
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The police had accompanied officials from the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) and journalists to the Mapostori’s shrine in Budiriro 2, where a sect led by one Madzibaba Ishmael, worships. The purpose of their visit was to educate and dissuade members of the sect from their wanton abuse of women and children.
ACCZ executive president, Bishop Johannes Ndanga who in an interview after the horror encounter recounted what happened on that day said the abuse, including prohibiting members from receiving medical attention and denying children education, and the determination by Madzibaba Ishmael and his followers to resist any interference, had resulted in the ACCZ seeking to ban the sect.
“There is massive abuse of women and children in this sect,” Ndanga said.
“Girls are forcibly subjected to virginity tests administered by men using their fingers and children are barred from going to school because the church leader, Ishmael Mufani, has convinced members that schools teach children the ways of the devil. All church members have been banned from accessing newspapers, radio or television and are strictly prohibited from using cellular phones. Violation of any of these rules, they are told, results in death.”
So, in order to effect the order to ban this nefarious grouping, Bishop Ndanga, under whose organisation all apostolic faith churches fall, enlisted the services of the police.
He said the decision was collectively made after multi-sectoral consultation between the Education and Culture ministry, the police’s Victim Friendly Unit and the women’s organisation, Msasa Project.
It is difficult to understand how, in this era where most Apostolic sects have come to appreciate the wisdom of educating their children and taking the sick to hospital, there could still be a group of people so primitively dangerous to their own lives.
It is for this mysterious lack of basic commonsense — and the violence propensity exhibited in the bloody bashing of uniformed police officers — that the ACCZ and other stakeholders have justifiably concluded that Madzibaba Ishmael’s outfit is nothing but a group of criminal miscreants masquerading as a religious organisation.
All hell broke loose after Ndanga addressed the over 1 000 white-robed members of Madzibaba Ishmael’s Mapostori, advising them that their “church” had been banned henceforth and that they should immediately stop congregating.
It is said women and girls wept as Ndanga explained some of the reasons for this action — the virginity test scandals — and the requirement that every woman of the sect that got into wedlock after losing their virginity, had the obligation to find a virgin girl for her husband!
All of a sudden, hundreds of men in white robes and armed with knobkerrie-like shepherd staffs rose and started beating up the police, ACCZ officials, journalists and anybody suspected to be part of the visitors to the shrine.
They sang songs of war while their women reportedly fell into trances, praying in tongues as the war raged.
Police, trained in riot control, tried all they could to quell the wild Mapostori but, needless to say, they were overwhelmingly outnumbered and overpowered. Bloodied and badly injured, they fled to the nearby Budiriro police station where they barricaded themselves inside — in case the marauding Mapostori followed them!
While it is known that violence is common among members of the Apostolic Faith sects — there are many an occasion where we have seen them substitute their Bibles for rocks in bloody wars over possession of shrines, names, ownership of property or even of dead bodies of their founders — but never in this country have we ever heard of incidents where officers of the law had to run for their lives, battered by knobkerrie-wielding Mapostori!
What happened in Budiriro should be condemned by all right-thinking citizens and perpetrators of such heinous acts ought to be punished severely enough to make them appreciate the folly of their evil deeds.
It is not just the act of beating up elderly religious officials like Bishop Lameck Chitope who survived the horror with blood flowing down from his head like a slaughtered lamb that must invoke revulsion — but the reason that pushed these criminals into this dastardly act.
The desire by these men to continue with their evil acts of poking their dirty fingers into little girls’ private parts and then deny them health care and education!
Madzibaba Ishmael’s dubious apostolic outfit must be removed from society in order to save the thousands of girls and women that have been enslaved in this sleazy and criminal organisation led by killers, paedophiles, sex perverts and thieves.