Apostolic Sect Under-Fire Over Child Marriages
25 September 2021

By A Correspondent-The government, through the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of girls and child marriages in various Apostolic sects around the country.

ZGC chairperson Mrs Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe announced the commencement of the investigation in yesterday’s Government Gazette under General Notice 2733 of 2021.

“The ZGC intends to investigate complaints of the institutionalisation of sexual exploitation and abuses of girls and child marriages in the Apostolic sect, Zimbabwe,” she said.

“Further to the above notice, an invitation is hereby given to any victims or witnesses to any act of sexual exploitation and abuse and child marriages by members of any Apostolic Church to present to the Commission written complaints, witnesses statements and any other supporting documents or evidence which can assist in the investigation. “Oral hearings will commence thereafter on dates to be advised by the commission.”

She said any person who wishes to make any submissions regarding the investigation should visit the Commission Offices in Harare at First Floor Pax House and/or submit them in writing before October 25.

There was national outrage following the death of 14-year-old girl, Memory Machaya during childbirth at a Johane Marange Apostolic Sect shrine in Mutare in August.

The girls husband Hatirarame Momberume has since been arrested on murder charges and having sex with a minor.

Her parents, Edmore Machaya and Rachel Mabika have also been arrested on obstruction of justice charges after they lied about the girl’s age in an attempt to protect Momberume.

Meanwhile, the ZGC will hold its 2021Annual National Gender Forum on November 23.

Mrs Mukahanana-Sangarwe made the announcement under General 2732 of 2021 in yesterday’s Government Gazette.

The proposed agenda for the Forum is “Action towards the eradication of harmful practices which breed child marriages and sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls.”

She said organisations and individuals with interest in gender equality, gender equity and gender mainstreaming to submit suggestions of topics to be included in the agenda for discussion at the forum.