Cult scandal deepens: Second body to be exhumed at Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine


THE body of a child, who was buried at Madzibaba Ishmael’s shrine without the knowledge of the mother, is expected to be exhumed today at Lily Farm in Nyabira.

Memory Mukanairi pleaded with authorities for the body of her child to be exhumed.

It will be the second exhumation of a body at the shrine.

The exhumation of the body of the late Professor Itai Muwati, who died in unclear circumstances at the same shrine, was the first.

Professor Muwati’s brother has since made sensational claims that the late professor was murdered and accused Madzibaba Ishmael, and a number of his followers, which he has named, for the murder.

Professor Muwati is said to have been killed after he decided to leave the cult because he no longer agreed with some of the things which were happening at the shrine.

A big police presence is expected at Lily Farm today for the exhumation process just in case there is resistance from some of the cult members.

Some families, who have various complaints against the cult and its leadership, have also indicated they will take advantage of the big police presence to visit the farm.

“We will take advantage of police presence to go and visit our relatives who are being kept there.

“It used to be a no-go area but police have assured us of our security,” said one of the family members.

A number of people have been calling H-Metro to enquire whether they will be safe if they visit the farm to look for their relatives, especially young women, who are believed to have been given into marriage to Madzibaba Ishmael’s men.

Madzibaba Ishmael was denied bail at the High Court yesterday on a day when seven of his members were granted bail.

He will remain in custody until their trial gets underway on May 7.

He was arrested together with church leaders Takavengwa Gwenzi (55), Siribiniyo Chikunire (53), Wonder Kabaya (41), Devlodge Katsande (47), Zebediah Sigudu (49), Aaron Chokurongerwa (47) and Shingirai Ngavafume (42).

However, Justice Rodgers Manyangadze said the magistrate, who denied Madzibaba Ishmael’s seven accomplices bail, erred in adopting a dragnet approach and failing to identify who was the cult leader.

Justice Rodgers Manyangadze allowed the bail appeal to succeed on the seven accomplices while denying Madzibaba Ishmael’s release.

Madzibaba Ishmael and his accomplices stand accused of contravening Section 3 (1) and (2) of the Burial and Cremation Act 5:03 and Section 7(1) and (5) of the Children’s Act 5:06.

The trial of the eight men did not get underway yesterday before Magistrate Christine Nyandoro after the hearing turned into a contest between the State and defence lawyer Purity Chikangaise.

Prosecuting the State applied for a month to complete all its investigations, indicating that the docket was almost complete, but needed to follow up on a request by the Registrar General.

The Registrar has indicated that there is a possibility to add more charges on the two counts the cult leaders were facing.

It also indicated that it was still facing challenges in estimating the ages of more than 200 minor children who were being enslaved at Madzibaba Ishmael’s farm in Nyabira.

The State said it could only be ready for trial on May 7 and was compiling sufficient evidence and could not proceed only based on the Form 242 on record.

This did not go down well with Madzibaba Ishmael’s lawyer, Purity Chikangaise who claimed that the State was deliberately delaying the trial.

Chikangaise argued that the State had made an undertaking on the previous remand date that it will proceed to trial before changing its stance yesterday.

She queried why the docket was not at court and with the National Prosecuting Authority.

The application for postponement was granted and the matter was remanded to May 7 for trial. HMetro.

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