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8 Psychiatric Patients Seeking Spiritual Healing Disappear in Zimbabwe

  • Michael Kariati

FILE - Patients undergoing a modern rehabilitation program draw during a therapy session.

FILE - Patients undergoing a modern rehabilitation program draw during a therapy session.

Some Kadoma residents in Mashonaland West province are trying to come to terms with the disappearance of eight mentally ill local men, who are said to have been taken away by members of the Apostolic Faith sect for healing sessions in October this year.

The men were allegedly taken away by people claiming to be members of the Apostolic Faith Church to Norton after promising to cure them.
But three months later, nothing has been heard from the Apostolic Faith members about the healing sessions.
Kadoma resident, Phillip Gavaza, says he witnessed the incident in which one of the most popular mentally ill people in the town only identified as Zuze was put into a truck.
Gavaza says he later heard that Zuze was being taken to Norton near the capital city, Harare, for a healing session.
Another resident, Isaac Tope, says he is surprised that Zuze and his friends have not yet been returned back home.
Even Malvais Songo, the father of one of the missing mentally ill people, Sitefani, knows exactly when his son was taken away.
Chipo Nyangoro, who grew up in Kadoma and currently stays in Harare, says she is disturbed that no-one has bothered to take action on this issue.
According to Songo, he has not taken the matter to the police as even three months down the line he still has faith in the men who took the initiative to offer assistance to his son and several other local people.
One of the Apostolic Faith members, Madzibaba Willard Mhandu, left his mobile phone number soon after they took Zuze.
Studio 7 spoke to Madzibaba Mhandu who said he is just a member of the church and is not involved in the healing process.
When asked how far they have gone with the healing of the men taken from Kadoma, he said he has not been to the masowe gathering for sometime now and is not aware of the progress made so far.
Madzibaba Mhandu confirmed they are based in Norton but refused to say where exactly they are conducting healing sessions, noting that reporters are not allowed at the place of prayer.

Mental illness is traditionally associated with witchcraft in Zimbabwe. According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms.

The WHO says the symptoms are generally characterized by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

Some examples are schizophrenia, depression, intellectual disabilities and disorders due to drug abuse. Most of these disorders can be successfully treated.

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