Zimbabwe Police arrested the leader of an apostolic sect and seven other members of his church after finding 16 graves and at least 251 minors on their farm.of which the majority were being forced to carry out forced labor, the security forces confirmed this Thursday, March 14, 2024, to EFE.

As detailed to EFE by one of the spokespersons for the Zimbabwean Police, Paul Nyathi, the eight arrested after a raid on the farm on March 12 – including the leader and self-proclaimed prophet Ishmael Chokurongerwa, 56 years old – They are suspected of different crimes, such as child abuse.

“Investigations carried out by the Police established that 246 of the 251 children under the age of 18 found at the farm did not have birth certificates and were being used to carry out various physical activities for the benefit of the sect leaders,” Nyathi said in a statement. statement released last Wednesday.

“The Police established that all minors of school-going age were not receiving formal education and were subjected to abusesuch as (being used as) cheap labor, doing manual work under the excuse of learning life skills,” he added.

Likewise, in the facility, located in the town of Nyabira, in the province of Mashonaland West (north), 16 graves were found, nine were of adults and the other seven were of children.

“All burials were carried out without prior registration at the Registrar General’s office in terms of the Birth and Death Registration Act,” the spokesperson said.

According to local media reports, Children and women rescued from the farm were taken to the hospital to undergo medical tests and examinations to determine their health and whether they were abused.

“They are forcibly taking away our children and women. We don’t know where they are taking them,” declared one of the faithful, without identifying himself.

Among other teachings, the sect led by Chokurongerwa, known as the Apostolic Church of Johane Masowe (founder of the organization) and with hundreds of followers in Zimbabwe, It does not allow reading the Bible, accepting jobs outside the community or going to the hospital, in addition to imposing polygamy and allowing the early marriage of girls, as the Police detailed to EFE.

The news came while a case with similar characteristics is progressing in the courts of Kenya, where In April 2023, the leader of a sect was arrested. He allegedly persuaded around 430 people to fast until they died to meet Jesus Christ..

Pastor Paul Mackenzie and 94 other co-defendants face charges of terrorism, murder of 191 children and manslaughter of at least 238 people.

Mackenzie is the alleged perpetrator of what is known as the “Shakahola massacre”, in reference to the name of the forest in the coastal county of Kilifi where Authorities found most of the nearly 430 bodies of his followers, many of whom were children, in mass graves and tombs.

Although the religious leader, who has been deprived of liberty since April along with about 30 other detainees, allegedly convinced the faithful of his church to fast until death, the autopsies not only showed traces of starvation in all the bodies, but also signs of strangulation and suffocation in some.

On January 31, the Kenyan Ministry of the Interior designated this Kenyan sectthe International Church of the Good News, as an organized criminal group.

Source: https://www.noticiascaracol.com/mundo/en-zimbabue-capturan-a-lider-de-secta-cristiana-y-rescatan-a-251-ninos-que-eran-sometidos-a-abuso-cb20

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