More than 300 members of the Johanne Masowe apostolic faith, who worship at an open space in Dzivarasekwa section 2, are being evicted by a local Housing Cooperative from their worshiping place.
The housing cooperative which is run by former liberation war fighters, Nehanda Housing Cooperative, at the weekend wrote a letter to the apostolic sect summoning the church leaders for an eviction meeting.
The Church leader, Francis Chibanda, also known as Madzibaba Petros, attended the meeting which was addressed by the housing cooperative’s security officer one Nkala, where the church was given marching orders.
Seeking justice, Madzibaba Petros on Tuesday went to Dzivarasekwa police station with the complaint.
“The police was very accommodative and summoned a representative of the housing cooperative. The police at the meeting made it clear to Nehanda housing cooperative that it should stop forthwith interfering with worshipers,” Petros told RelZim in Dzivarasekwa soon after attending the police meeting.
Madzibaba Petros said they had been worshiping at the place since 1997, way before the establishment of the Housing Cooperative.
“This place was a rubbish dumping area in the late 1990s when we discovered it. We cleaned all the garbage and made it our worshiping place .To us the area belongs to the Harare City Council not the Nehanda Housing Cooperative.”
The area’s Councilor, Herman Tonderai Karimakwenda, said the housing cooperative does not own the disputed land.
“Hearing the sad development which to us is a clear violation of freedom of worshiping we wrote to the housing cooperative advising them that the land was not in their jurisdiction. In fact what happened is that the housing cooperative had connected its water from the area, and erected a guard room where it placed a security guard responsible for manning their main water connection pipe.
“That is where these people have been worshiping. Now that the housing cooperative has erected its guard room they are now accusing the church members of tempering with the water connection pipe. They are also saying when these people gather for worshiping they will be making noise to their guard.
“This is unacceptable and we are not going to let it happen”, Councilor Karimakwenda said.