Children raped at Kunonga churches

HARARE - Shocking details have emerged of widespread abuse of orphans at an orphanage and schools which were run by disgraced and dethroned Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, prompting human rights organisations to demand an investigation.

Yesterday, the Anglican Church Harare diocese convened a press briefing where the dastardly endeavours which happened in the past five years under Kunonga’s watch were revealed.

Kunonga was in charge of the institutions after he seized them from the Church of the Province of Central Africa, often using violence and help from the police.

Chad Gandiya, who is the bishop of Harare, told reporters in Harare that the Anglican Church, which won a landmark court victory on Monday, was carrying out an inventory that will ultimately lead them to their vast properties which had been turned into “lucrative business joints” by the ex-communicated Kunonga.

With more than 100 parishes and sub parishes in the diocese of Harare which encompasses, Mashonaland, East, West and Central provinces and hundreds of schools in the same diocese, Kunonga has not been settling electricity and water bills and an inventory would allow bona fide Anglicans to know the amount that the self-proclaimed Zanu PF supporter is supposed to pay.

Kunonga lost the case of control of the Anglican Church properties with costs at the Supreme Court and is supposed to clean his slate before he exits the buildings which he has personalised and even “desecrated” in the past five years.

Gandiya said on December 16 a cleansing ceremony will be carried out to drive out demons before the church gets to use its defiled sanctuaries.

But it is the issue of abuse of children which is most shocking, especially coming from men of the cloth.

Just like with other schools and hospitals, the Anglican Church lost Shirley Cripps, an orphanage to Kunonga, who violently kicked out nuns, some of whom had been running the place for more than 30 years.

Debauchery by Kunonga’s men was to follow, Gandiya said yesterday.

“The children’s home is very dear to us, last week we received information that children were being abused. The matter was referred to the police and we are happy a person was arrested. There is widespread sexual abuse at the orphanage.”

While Anglicans across the country are on cloud nine celebrating their victory, Gandiya expressed concern with the manner in which Kunonga’s supporters are deserting premises literally abandoning children.

“We are not there to fight anybody. If people are moving out they should inform us so as to ensure that children do not starve,” said Gandiya.

After leaving the Anglican Church, ostensibly over homosexuality, Kunonga an acclaimed supporter of President Robert Mugabe’s policies, went on to replace professionals at the institutions he had seized.
Standards have plummeted with children at the Anglican Church-run schools complaining of abuse while infrastructure is in a sorry state.

Officials say sexual abuses at Shirley Cripps are just a tip of the iceberg judging from the decadence of the moral fibre at institutions that had been in the hands of Kunonga.

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said his ministry will take stern measures against teachers who will be found to have abused children.

“We are certainly going to investigate. We will support the Anglican Church and they should give us any kind of allegation which they have so that we take it to the police commissioner-general. If we find that teachers abused children, then we will punish them severely,” said Coltart.

Irene Petras Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the Human Rights Commission which was recently given teeth after Mugabe signed the Human Rights Bill into law should investigate the matter along with the ministry of Education.

“Children just like everyone else should enjoy their rights. What happened when Kunonga was in charge should be investigated by the ministry of Education because the first mandate of education is to ensure that children develop in a proper environment.

This is something that the Human Rights Commission should also do,” said Petras.

Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she is still in the dark about the matter.

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