In a distressing incident in Chimanimani, a local church bishop has been exposed for hiding his paraplegic son in a locked room for an appalling duration of two years. The bishop, Namatai Nemaramba, belonging to the Zion Sabbath Christian Church, subjected his son, Joseph Nemaramba (21), to a life devoid of basic necessities such as food, water, clothing, and medical care.
When Joseph was eventually rescued by the community, led by Acting Chief Saurombe, he was found in a deplorable state. Malnourished, filthy, and bearing wounds all over his body, Joseph had been confined to a room by his own father. As a result of the severe neglect, he was unable to speak or walk. His limbs were contorted, and he appeared to have suffered from years of starvation and mistreatment.
In an interview, Joseph’s aunt, Mrs. Susan Mukocheya Nemaramba, revealed that she had not seen her nephew for years. The family had presumed Joseph to be deceased and secretly buried. Joseph’s paralysis had manifested while he was in Form Two, after which he disappeared from public view.
Mrs. Mukocheya Nemaramba expressed her concerns to her grandson about Joseph’s whereabouts over the years. She was informed that Joseph was now residing in Harare, but she had also begun to suspect that he might have passed away and been buried in secret.
The revelation of Joseph’s captivity came about when one of Namatai’s daughters accused Mrs. Mukocheya Nemaramba of bewitching her brother. As a result, she tipped off Acting Chief Saurombe, who was hosting a live show on Chimanimani FM at the time.
After the show, Acting Chief Saurombe joined forces with other villagers and confronted the Nemaramba family, which fell under Chief Mutambara’s jurisdiction, demanding to see Joseph. Initially, Namatai and his other children vehemently denied Joseph’s presence and locked room, but as they threatened to break down the door, they heard Joseph’s cries and whimpers. The conditions in which Joseph was found left everyone appalled. He was emaciated, covered in dirt, and bore bruises and scars all over his body.
Subsequently, Namatai was summoned to Acting Chief Saurombe’s court, where he confessed to holding his son captive for a harrowing two-year period. He claimed that the objective behind this atrocious act was to enhance his spiritual powers and attract more members to his church.
Namatai surrendered his church items, including woollen belts that he allegedly employed in rituals that caused Joseph’s condition. However, he later changed his stance, alleging that his confession had been made under duress.
Acting Chief Saurombe condemned this horrific and inhumane act, emphasizing that it deserved condemnation from all segments of society. He stated that no child should endure such abuse and neglect, especially at the hands of their own parents, particularly someone who claims to be a religious leader.
Village Head Stephany Nemaramba, who is Namatai’s brother, disclosed that the family had assumed Joseph was either deceased or residing with his siblings in Harare. They were still grappling with the startling revelation of the manner in which Namatai had treated his own son. Despite numerous prayer sessions held at the homestead, the church pastors claimed ignorance about Joseph’s situation when questioned over the years. The room in which Joseph was confined remained locked at all times.
Members of the Zion Sabbath Christian Church offered support and prayers for Joseph’s recovery. Pastor Edwin Mukuche stated that it was disheartening to discover that their leader had imprisoned Joseph for two years. He called for Namatai’s resignation from the bishop’s position, emphasizing that someone who could abuse their own child in such a manner was unworthy of leadership. The congregation felt deceived and betrayed.
The police were alerted to the matter, and Joseph was referred to Mutambara Mission Hospital for medical attention. However, Namatai has yet to be arrested. Inspector Norbert Muzondo, the Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, confirmed that they had not yet received the report. Acting Chief Saurombe adjourned the case to the upcoming Sunday, with plans to accompany traditional healers on a visit to Namatai’s homestead to retrieve his other ritualistic tools.