Noah Taguta leads members of the Johane Marange Apostolic Sect in song during a Passover Conference at Mafararikwa July 2015

Memory Machaya’s death: Ziyambi says church members refuse to cooperate with police

By Nancy Samuriwo

JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has disclosed that police were having a tough time establishing what happened to 14-year-old Memory Machaya who died during childbirth at the shrine of the Johan Marange Apostolic Church in Marange.

The apostolic sect’s members were evev refusing to tell detectives where the deceased was buried, Ziyambi told Parliament. This was after MDC-T legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga had asked that Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs must issue a statement on what happened to the girl and what the Government was doing about it.

“For some of us that have been in women’s rights for a long time, we are particularly concerned that the issue of Marange and the abuse of children within that particular sect, has been on the table for more than two decades and it has been known that this is what is happening,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

“It is worrisome that even today when something has happened so publicly, we have since not heard what is going to happen vis-a-vis the perpetrators.

“I therefore would ask, through you Mr. Speaker Sir, that the Minister of Home Affairs comes to this House and gives a ministerial statement to explain what happened in terms of this child, and what is happening in terms of the abuse that we all know is happening within the Marange sect so that we can at least understand and appreciate that Government is indeed doing something to protect our young girls.”

Ziyambi responded: “It is not as straightforward as Hon. Misihairabwi is trying to say. Indeed, Government is doing a lot. Investigations were started and it goes to the root of the culture of that particular community.

“Initially, there was total lack of cooperation from the whole community, to the extent that the police were not even told where the girl was buried. Investigations which include trying to engage the community are ongoing.

“So it is not correct to say that Government has not been doing anything. It is something that goes deep into the culture religious practices of that community.

“The police are trying to get to the bottom of it, but they are faced with resistance from the whole community, and they are working on it.

Ziyambi, who is the leader of Government business in Parliament, admitted that detectives were receiving a cold shoulder from the church members such that police were not even told where the girl was buried.

“It is not as straightforward as Hon. Misihairabwi is trying to say. Indeed, Government is doing a lot. Investigations were started and it goes to the root of the culture of that particular community.

“Initially, there was total lack of cooperation from the whole community, to the extent that the police were not even told where the girl was buried. Investigations which include trying to engage the community are ongoing,” Ziyambi said.

He added: “So it is not correct to say that Government has not been doing anything. It is something that goes deep into the culture religious practices of that community.

“The police are trying to get to the bottom of it, but they are faced with resistance from the whole community, and they are working on it.

“At this juncture, I think it is too early for the Minister to come with a ministerial statement because they are doing something. Once they have managed to get to the bottom of it, then he will be able to give a full and informed statement to the House.”

This would be contrary to what the church’s coordinator and spokesperson, Nyasha Marange, said on Saturday. In a statement published by hourlyhits.com, Marange said as a church they abided by the laws of the land and would not stand in the law enforcement agents’ way as they probe the case.

“It is true that Memory was married to Evans Momberume. The police should probe the case to its logical conclusion. She died after giving birth and her baby is with the Machayas in Kwekwe.

“As the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church, we will not protect any of our congregants being investigated by law enforcement agents for any criminal offence, be it murder, rape or marrying a minor.”

Marange denied that the girl was buried at the church.

“There is no graveyard at our shrine. If a congregant dies during our gatherings, arrangements are made to ferry that person’s body to their place of origin. The shrine is only used for gatherings and Memory’s body was not buried in the shrine as alleged.

“We do not have a secret graveyard as the shrine as this violates the country’s laws,” he said. READ MORE about this at: https://hourlyhits.com/2021/08/13/memory-machayas-body-cant-be-located-church-denies-burying-her-at-shrine/

Activists fear that the investigations into the death, which occurred 15 July, have dragged on for far too long as police continue being moved from pillar to post. – HOURLYHITS.COM □

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