Sex tutor Mai Gunguwo runs illegal home

HARARE - Her sermons on love matters have turned her into a popular sex tutor, with people, particularly women, flocking to her church for steamy sessions.

But Lucia Gunguwo, widely-known as Mai Gunguwo, could be in trouble with the law for running an illegal children’s home.

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale in Harare, the home is an eyesore, with dozens of children crammed in squalid conditions.

Gunguwo is also a leader of Eternal Word Ministries International, under whose auspices the unregistered home is operating.

Government officials say the home is unregistered, hence should cease its operations.

“I don’t know about that home. It is not registered with us. We have 18 registered homes in Harare and we do not have any in Borrowdale. We are going to close that home. It is illegal,” said the provincial social work officer for Harare who only identified herself as Mrs Ngani.

A Daily News on Sunday crew visited the home in Borrowdale last week.

Situated at Number 5 Guildford Road, the place looks unkempt.

There was no visible security at the main entrance and no sign announcing the home.

A man who appeared like a gardener opened the gate and told our crew that Mai Gunguwo was not on the premises as she was preaching at her church at 150 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare.

The man said the home housed 72 children and most of them were in nearby Hatcliffe attending primary and secondary schools.

Two young girls joined the man and one of them said she was orphaned and came from Masvingo.

The Daily News on Sunday crew later managed to gain access to the premises.

A main house stands at the centre and on the other side is a compound housing the children.

The buildings looked too small to accommodate 72 children. Our crew learnt that the children share four toilets. There was no running water at the facility and some young girls were seen collecting water in buckets from a source at the house.

Mai Gunguwo said the home is indeed unregistered but was operating under the auspices of her church business.

“We are registered as a Private Voluntary Organisation and one of our objectives is to work with children in the communities we work with. We are paying fees for a number of orphans in communities.

“What does one do when children are suffering? One looks after them. Legally the home is not registered but the social welfare requirements are so many, they need reports and a change of use of our residential place into a children’s home but we have been facing challenges,” she said.

Gunguwo, who is also a marriage counsellor, said she did not send the children away after she failed to meet the requirements because they were so vulnerable with nowhere to go.

She said a child indeed died at her place recently.

“A girl died at our place she was 17. She started vomiting and she died, my employees reported the case to the police who ordered a post-mortem. Unfortunately the girl had an ageing defect, she was prematurely getting old. With her condition it was by the grace of God that she reached her age,” she said.

Gunguwo said the children were from rural areas where her church has a strong presence: “We have 350 churches around the country and sometimes we discover vulnerable children who we bring to our home. It is difficult to ignore suffering children when you are head of the church.”

Officials from the social welfare department paid a visit to Gunguwo’s home on Thursday after being alerted by the Daily News on Sunday.

“Social welfare people came to my house and I explained to them that I have been looking after these children and seven are in university as we speak. I also told them that the social welfare department used to refer abandoned children to my home, those that would be waiting to be adopted,” said Gunguwo.

Mai Gunguwo said social welfare authorities informed her that they would facilitate registration of the home.

In contrast to figures given by her gardener, she said the house accommodated 42 children and only 25 were remaining at the premises. She has sent some of the children back to their families.

The church leader said the home is financed by her church and friends.

A social work consultant, Msekiwa Makwanga, said according to the Zimbabwean law the department of social welfare require certain skills from staff looking after the children.

He said government is responsible for ensuring all children are living in stable homes.

“In terms of the Children’s Act, the government needs to account for every child kept in a home. I understand some of these children came from outside Harare and these are not accounted for as this place is unregistered. They are acting outside the law, anything that happens at the home, the owners are actually liable.”

Gunguwo is a preacher and counsellor well-known for her explicit sexual teachings. Her teachings are a huge hit on social networks and some people like activist, Betty Makoni, say her teachings border on pornography. - Margaret Chinowaita, Community Affairs Editor

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