Violence erupted early Friday at a Johanne Masowe Echishanu shrine when church members attacked riot police and Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) leaders, who were trying to engage the church over alleged human rights abuses.
The ACCZ also did not bear good news for the men of the cloth. They announced the church had been banned as a result of the alleged abuses. This did not go down well with the congregants who quickly turned their walk sticks into weapons.
ACCZ director of information and publicity Joseph Paganga said eight people, including five police officers, were injured and taken to Harare central and Parirenyatwa hospitals while some were attended to at Budirio Clinic and discharged.
The apostolic sect, led by one Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani, is accused of, among other things, denying children the right to go to school, forcing girls into marriages, conducting virginity tests and forcing women to provide their husbands with virgin girls if they were not virgins when they got married.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she could not comment on the issue since she was in a meeting.
But ACCZ’s Paganga said the attack took them by surprise as they did not expected such behaviour that from ‘Christians’.
Meanwhile, journalists from different media houses on Friday staged a belated World Press Freedom Day march in Harare, demanding improved working conditions and better pay.
The commemorations, originally set for May 3, were re-scheduled after police blocked journalists and other activists from marching on the streets.
The event was organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Editors Forum and the Ministry of Information.
Deputy Information Minister, Super Mandiwanzira, pledged government support to prioritize the welfare of journalists.