CHAOS reigned supreme at the late Mugodhi Apostolic sect leader Tandewu Mugodhi’s burial in Wedza on Saturday after two factions clashed over the burial site and the appointment of his son as heir apparent.
Three police officers, who were at the site, had a torrid time quelling the chaos as sect members exchanged harsh words, while some shouted unprintable words as the leadership wrangle within one of the biggest apostolic sects in the country escalated.
A faction opposed to the elevation of Mugodhi’s son Washington was left seething with anger after he was ordained sect leader against a High Court ruling which recognised vice-bishop Tonnie Sigauke as the bona fide successor.
High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu made the determination on September 4, 2019, after sect members petitioned the court, seeking an order to interdict Tandewu from appointing Washington the acting vice-bishop and to act on his behalf.
Justice Tagu further said Tandewu’s move was a breach of the sect’s constitution.
In his ruling, Justice Tagu said: “The first respondent (Tandewu) be and is hereby interdicted from carrying out his duties until he has been cleansed in terms of the applicant’s constitution.
“The first, second, third and fourth respondents (Tandewu, Washington, Innocent and Enock Mugodhi) together with their families be and are hereby interdicted from interfering in the operations of the applicant (Sigauke).
“The pronouncement by the first respondent that the second respondent is now the acting vice-bishop be and is hereby declared unlawful. The vice-bishop Tonnie Sigauke be and is hereby confirmed as acting bishop.”
There were also frantic efforts to bar Tandewu from being buried at the sect’s headquarters.
The disgruntled sect members tried to use traditional leadership in the area to stop the burial without success.
Tandewu was buried at the sect headquarters where his father Elijah Mugodhi, who died in 1971 is buried.
Giving a speech during the burial ceremony, one of the leaders revealed that all was not well within the sect as some members were jostling for top posts.
A family member, who preferred anonymity, told NewsDay that there had been efforts by the anti-Tandewu faction to take over the leadership long before his death.
“There have been efforts to seize leadership from the Mugodhi family. This is why there was chaos at the funeral wake. They tried to bar him from being buried at the sect headquarters despite other bishops being buried there. Some of the members feel that the family should not be involved in the church leadership, which is wrong. They are against the elevation of Washington and it is not looking good. When Tandewu was no longer feeling well, some of his enemies changed the constitution without his knowledge as they were trying to stage a coup,” the family member said.
Tandewu died last week after a long battle with cancer.