Johanne Marange sect's bizarre rituals

MUTARE - Dogs, chickens, goats and cattle have better chances of survival than humans, a hard-pressed Johanne Marange Apostolic Church member vending locksets and glue at Sakubva Bus Terminus conceded.

“We are not forbidden by the church to medicate our livestock but such an edict is clear and strictly enforced to humans,” he said further admitting that diseases claim more people than livestock.

This however, is not surprising if the Daily News on Sunday investigations into the church’s “medical” institutions are anything to go by.

The entry of one of this church’s healing prophets into its healing mission earned him a madman’s tag.

“Many people who knew me before this calling actually still think I’m mentally disturbed, but my patients bare a different testimony,” Thomas Mashava said from his healing shrine near the confluence of Mupudzi and Odzi rivers in Dzingirai Village, some 40 kilometres south-west of Mutare.

“This is not a profession I learnt. I work under God’s instruction,” a soft-spoken Mashava said.

This prophet has transformed his homestead into a hospital with a wide range of patients admitted into the small huts littering the yard.

“My arrival, however saw everyone disappear into their small bunkers, some only waist high,” he said.

Mashava said he treats malaria but first forcing his patients to down five litres of holy water in one sitting, an exercise that would induce vomiting thereby cleaning the upper digestive system.

“I will then insert a pipe through the anus and pour more water to clean the lower digestive system,” he said.

“After pouring a certain amount of water, the patient would instantly pop, clearing the whole digestive system,” Mashava said with a reassuring smile.

This revered prophet, who attracts patients from as far as Harare and Bulawayo, says injecting water through the anus was also his God-inspired remedy to constipation as he has seen it clear waste as hard as that of a donkey.

With the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect commanding over 1,8 million followers, this implies more than 10 percent of the country’s population depend on this institution for medical care.

But the healing shrine is also the “anointed” maternity facility for white-garment apostolic church.

“I saw a 15-year-old who camped there recently looking for a fruit of the womb which meant she was failing to conceive,” said a local who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.

Mashava admitted that he sometimes attends to underage married girls but said the practice was in the decline.

The sect’s “High Priest” outlawed the practice and most men no longer marry underage girls, he said.

The local village head, Baiso Dzingirai (83) also said the practice was no longer common in his area of jurisdiction since he made an announcement outlawing the practice in line with the country’s laws.

“I said I don’t want to see that, child-pledging and child marriages will be punishable because you would have violated a child’s rights and limited their potential,” Dzingirai said.

But for girls who come to deliver at the shrine, Mashava said they would advise them to sit in warm water every day to relax their muscles and eliminate any risk of obstructed labour.

“We will be acting under God’s instructions and so far we have not had any maternal mortality incident since we began in 1999,” Mashava said.

The shrine records an average of seven births a month but one of his wives, whom he said was at a church conference takes the lead on gynaecological issues.

This helped him evade giving an explanation as to why they give a popular beverage to new-born babies.

“I’m not sure if that is also inspired by the Holy Spirit but if my wife was around she could have explained that part,” Mashava said.

Mashava said they do fairly well in managing many childhood diseases. They were however, failing to find a solution for what he said was locally referred to as buka or convulsions which were claiming many children.

“It cheats us and claims most of our children,” Mashava said.

With child marriages rampant it also means more girls give birth in these shrines than anywhere else and the cases of maternal and infant mortality are difficult to ascertain.

But Manicaland province has the largest number of followers and also holds the highest infant mortality rate in the country.

Manicaland provincial medical director Tapiwa Murambi said his ministry has not yet done a scientific study to ascertain the extent of the sect’s religious objections to professional medical services in the province.

“You have to have their cooperation to produce a valid study,” Murambi said.

Murambi however, said a negative impact of the general outlook of maternal and infant mortality in the province was inevitable.

“Obviously, if people are involved in these practices we think are not effective and even harmful it has a negative bearing on the health state of the province,” he said.

Some of the church’s members, Murambi said, were now clandestinely seeking professional medical help with the only problem that they were presenting themselves late.

“In our clinics, we keep baby cards, immunisation record cards and family planning cards of members of the sect who come for medical services but cannot keep them in their homes,” Murambi said.

“But with regard to other illnesses, the problem is when they come we only notice that they would have delayed.

“In most cases if someone has delayed their chances of recovery will be lessened.”

Murambi however, said the Health ministry was facing challenges emanating from politicians at a very high level who make statements that feed a fanatical section of the sect who then resist medical services for themselves and their families.


Comments (10)

May Bernard Chiketo tell us which of the above is a bizarre ritual ?

Bystander Martin - 14 January 2014

the bizarre practice is that they can by veterinary products to treat their livestock yet they cannot use medicine for treatment.

lionel - 15 January 2014

Kuisa hosepipe kumashure kwemunhukadzi zvanzi ndange ndichimurapa malaria, CHII ICHOCHO? This is human abuse and witchcraft coin it SATANISM in Vapostori sects countrywide!! Chihuri naNdanga ban these Apostoric SECTS!!!

SATANISM KA IYO NDANGA - 16 January 2014

chihuri is a member of johane masowe wechishanu

harare - 16 January 2014

So meaning they have freedom and shall never be arrested coz the Big boss from the mafia police is a member of their church....Matsotsi ......vakomana muchamhanya

Clemence Tashaya - 16 January 2014

This is a punishable offence.Mashava deserves to answer why he was forcing people to drink five litres water and iserting pipes on people's backs which is neither scriptual or medical method of combating malaria.These so called prophets and pastors are finding loopholes for committing adultery with women in their churches.How do he insert that pipe to a married woman?Well a Doctor can do it because he was certified by the Ministry of Health to do it what about Mashava?

Bird's Eye View - 20 January 2014

He was certified by who,this is a democratic country hence do not tell what to do,you are very stupid,how many nacked woman have you seen yourself are you certified you hure.

DAVID - 23 January 2014

Mwari wona!

jb - 25 January 2014

would t be forcing someone when the person came to his homestead and they are willing to do so? lets make informed statements and judgements ladies and gentleman. this is a country where one has the right to chose what or who to believe in. leave people and their beliefs alone!

ps - 3 February 2014

We might not like some of the practices of Johanne Marange but I see nothing to scream about their enema administration which is an alternative health therapy technique used world-wide to stimulate stool evacuation. Such liquid treatments, similar to laxatives, are most commonly used for colon cleaning to help relieve severe constipation. It might sound unusual to some but it works, medically, to clear the refuse in our stomach linings (fecal impact) which cause all sorts of poor health conditions...although not sure if it treats malaria.

Observer - 3 February 2014

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