SCORES of Johanne Masowe yeChishanu sect members who beat up anti-riot police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) in Budiriro 2, Harare on Friday are on the run, it has been established.
The brutal attack by marauding Johanne Masowe yeChishanu members and followers of a sect led by one Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani left nine police officers, two ZBC staffers and ACCZ official Lameck Chitope seriously injured.
They were attacked with rocks and shepherd’s staffs – the mapostori’s traditional prayer aid.
The attack followed an announcement by the ACCZ president, bishop Johannes Ndanga that the sect had been banned for among other reasons, denying their children education, allowing fathers to administer virginity tests on their daughters using fingers and wife battering.
Sources said yesterday that following the attack, police swooped on Budiriro on Friday night to arrest the perpetrators, but found out that most of them had deserted their homes.
An official close to the investigation said six members of the sect had been arrested by yesterday, but up to 50 more suspects were being sought after they were identified through photo evidence and witnesses.
“Most of the suspects have disappeared into thin air and their families are professing ignorance over their whereabouts,” the official who is not authorised to speak to the media, said.
National Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba was not answering her phone last night.
But she was quoted by ZBC confirming that more police officers had been deployed to investigate the issue.
“We have deployed more personnel to investigate the matter and to bring perpetrators of violence to book. So far we are still questioning the six members who were arrested on Friday,” Charamba was quoted as saying.
ACCZ chief registrar reverend Taurai Mbewe said sect members who were on the run after beating up police officers, should surrender and allow the law to take its full course.
He said Madzibaba Ishmael’s sect was more of a cult which indoctrinated its members who were not allowed to read newspapers and the Bible, watch television or possess cellphones.
“It’s most likely that they are not even aware that they were making headlines in the media after attacking police officers and journalists,” Mbewe said.
He said all the people who were hospitalised after the thorough beating, had now been discharged save for ZBC cameraperson Relax Mafruit who is still detained at West End Hospital.
Mbewe said ACCZ would this week start engaging stakeholders such as Childline, Unicef and the Primary and Secondary education ministry with the view to help children who were being abused by the sect members.