Woman dies during baptism ceremony

HARARE - A woman died during a baptism ceremony at Nyaure River in Cheza Village in Domboshawa on Sunday, a Harare court heard yesterday.

The ceremony was being held by New Johanne Masowe Echishanu leader Masimba Chirayi, who appeared in court facing culpable homicide charges.

Chirayi appeared before Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande and was released on $50 bail under conditions that he continues residing at 2498D Overspill, Epworth and not interfere with witnesses until the case is finalised.

Shirayi was represented by Vincent Mazhetese of Mazhetese and Partners.

Prosecutor Ropafadzo Bosha alleged that on April 14, Chirayi convened his church meeting at the banks of Nyaure River.

The court heard that he intended to cleanse and baptise his members during a spiritual ceremony in the river.

It was alleged that when it was Wendy Masuka’s turn, Chirayi submerged her into the river and she drowned.

However, Chirayi claimed that during the baptism, Masuka resembled an evil spirit forcing him to push her deep into the waters.

The State has lined up witnesses who saw the incident unfold and are going to testify against their cleric.

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