Tragic reality continues to be the order of the day in Domboshawa, as members of Marange Apostolic church have developed a makeshift maternal “clinic” to help expecting mothers and cure disease.

The clinic, situated just a few meters away from the main road linking Bindura and Harare, is surrounded by plastic houses that are in the small compound. Expecting mothers are seen hanging around the compound and children of different ages are also seen playing at the compound. The village head Maurice Muringai said he is troubled by the death of children at the place. “It’s too much — there are many deaths of children. Last year we buried scores of children, I don’t have the exact figure. But after forcing them to report every death they will come twice or thrice weekly to report the death of children who are part of the church. You can estimate how many would have died by the year end.”

Muringai added, “EMA [Environmental Management Authority]  came here and tried to encourage them to split saying the place is too small and can not accommodate that number of people but they were adamant. Personally, I have failed to deal with them. Maybe only the government will be able to deal with them. The sad part of this is that they are protected by someone in authority.” But a member of the Apostolics who talked to The Standard reporter dismissed the allegations saying it is a homestead of someone hence it was wrong to ask any questions.

In the meantime, a police officer, who cannot be named for professional reasons, said that the police cannot move against the Vapostori sect because they fear reprisals from the top. “We cannot arrest them even though we are aware of the abuses that they are perpetrating against women and children. If you try to do anything against these people then you will be victimized, so we just leave them alone and hope that the government will act.”

Design Masengu, a youth in the area, said the makeshift clinic pains him because his best friend died of gonorrhea as he was being given holy water and not allowed to go to clinic.

Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister, Douglas Mombeshora, said the problems are there but his ministry is engaging the leaders of the sects “We have theses programmes where we are actually trying to engage their leaders, I actually visited them and talked to their leaders for three hours during the night and they allowed us to immunize children. It’s a process and the numbers are increasing. It is a complicated issue that needs a tactful approach.”

According to a survey that RelZim quoted recently, the key informants lamented the low uptake of modern health services and poor immunization coverage among religious groups such as Johanne Marange, Madhidha and conservative segments of Johanne Masowe.

See related article: Domboshawa Vapostori stifle government’s mother-to-child-transmission campaigns