FARAI MATEBVU/FUNGAI MUNYORO -CHINGAIRA
MUTARE- Leader of a controversial sect Johane Marange once accused of targeting underage girls for marriage in the Eastern highlands, Mutare Noah Taguta Momberume has died.
The Sect’s High Priest died yesterday afternoon at his Marange Shrine after a short illness. His actual age has not been established but believed to be in his 80s and 90s.
Provincial Secretary for Manicaland Affairs and Devolution Edgar Seenza told a local daily last night that he was still to get finer details regarding Momberume’ death.
“I also received the same message but i’m yet to receive finer details. I have no contacts within the family” said Seenza last night.
But close sources within the church who declined to be named confirmed the death and said their High Priest had not been well of late.
“We are mourning, we have been robbed of our leader. His death is kept secretive until all modalities are pursued. We are not supposed to make public pronouncements of the church affairs. It is the role of the church’s spokesperson” said a source.
Assistant Manicaland Provincial Police Spokesperson Wiseman Chinyoka could neither confirm nor deny the death.
“I have seen that on social media and in a local daily state paper. I’m sure I will give you the correct details later today after the Independence celebrations. We are with the Minister at Sakubva Stadium and promise to call you back” Chinyoka told The Mirror in a telephone interview.
Momberume’ s death has been kept a secret since last night with his close aids and relatives refusing to comment on the matter citing church protocols and procudures.
His son Oscar who is the church’s spokesperson is reportedly away in South Africa and The Mirror could not fetch a comment immediately.
Momberume’s Johane Marange church grabbed headlines for wrong reasons when police arrested Hatirarami Momberume (26) believed to be closely related to the late for merrying a 15 year old Anna Machaya who later died at a secluded shrine during child birth.
Anna Machaya, died and was burried in July at the church shrine in the Eastern region of Marange in Mutare district. The case that attracted outrage among citizens, human rights activists and international media exposed massive exploitation of minors at the sect and most are forced to abondon school to get married.
Anna’s parents who are also congregants at the sect received criticism of pledging yet another 9 year old daughter to Momberume as replacement.
Recently government developed strategies at ending child marriages, a vice threatening the development and wellbeing of young girls
According to Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) 33.7 percent of girls aged below 18 are married off
The strategy is designed to empower women and enhence their participation in the fight against child marriages
A land mark 2016 constitutional Court judgement declared child marriages unconstitutionaland set 18 as the minimum marriage age for girls and boys without exemption. https://chipingetimes.co.zw/