The mysterious happenings of Musogwezi River of July 16, 2021 will forever remain etched in the memories of the people of Jongwe Village, Machiti area under Chief Mapanzure in Masvingo Rural District.
Self-styled Prophet Amos Chituri (49) of Agness Access Apostolic Church (AAAC) stood there uneasy, hands shaking uncontrollably as he tried to come to terms with the events of the past seven days.
Three people drowned and disappeared under his watch as he tried to conduct baptism at a rocky pool at the foot of Mavara hills. The three were not seen again until on the seventh day when their bodies resurfaced one after another.
The mystery got deeper!
There were trembling sounds that tore through Mavara Hills and down into the pool as the three drowned. These sounds were heard many kilometers away and they continued intermittently for the next week.
“I am shaken. I am beside myself. This has never happened in my life and I do not know how to tell people about this including my own relatives,” said Chituri in an interview with The Mirror.
It all started at around 6am on July 16, 2021, when Chituri, a prophet from Manyangadze Village under Chief Mutasa in Manicaland visited the Chivi family in Tazvigwira to attend to a child who is mentally ill. He was met by the village head Victor Tazvigwira for purposes of village protocols.
Chituri however, took Tazvigwira aside and made a prophesy on him. He prophesied that Tazvigwira once came across human bones while walking in the hills. The spirit of that deceased person was haunting him and needed to be cleansed.
The two agreed to go to Musogwezi River for exorcism and baptism. They were accompanied by Tazvigwira’s wife, Chivi, his wife and two children and some youth members of AAAC from Silas and Ratisai village under Chief Shumba making it a group of about nine people.
At the river, the group stood about 10 metres away and removed their shoes as they prepared to get closer to the pool for the baptism. The pool is less than 3m wide and locals say it’s not deep as kids always play and swim there. That pool is also used for baptisms by many other indigenous churches.
Chituri paced close to the pool where the group was preparing for the ceremony. The nine or so started speaking in tongues and like the biblical possessed pigs in the new testament they ran and plunged into the pool. There was a huge trembling noise from the pool and the hills above. Forces they could not understand shoved and pushed them under the water.
“We could see each other as we struggled to escape from the bottom of the pool. Surprisingly we never bumped against one another and we never gulped any water. I raised my hands to try and alert those outside of our predicament. After a while I mysteriously found myself thrown out of the pool and lying on the ground. I still don’t know how I came out,” said Tazvigwira.
Five others also mysteriously found themselves out of the pool, lying on the ground. Chituri attended to them and in particular Tazvigwira who seemed to be almost dying.
As they got back to their senses, they realised that some members of the group were missing.
Missing was Cosmas Mvicha, Witness Chirombo of Silas Village and Fungai Berevedzai a 14-year-old Form 2 girl at Mapakomhere High School who according to some relatives was taken by mermaids on two occasions before.
The stunned group spent the whole day from around 8am praying for the three who had disappeared hoping that they would come out alive. They believed that they had been snatched by mermaids.
At around 4pm they lost hope and alerted the rest of the villages.
Tactics were changed. They agreed to dump the Christian approach to the rescue operation and village heads, chiefs and spirit mediums of the area were called in. For the next week, vigils were maintained near the pool but to no avail.
A spirit medium only identified as Mbuya Juliana performed rituals and as she completed them, the trembling noise was heard once again and it repeated itself three times.
On the seventh day, on July, 22 the first body belonging to Witness Chirombo was spotted at around 9am floating on the surface. Fear-struck villagers could not go anywhere near the pool. At around 2pm on the same day, The Mirror crew arrived at the pool and an adventurous photographer Tony Phiri was the first to see the second body of Cosmo Mvicha emerging out of the water almost in a sitting position.
The following day on Friday July 23, the body of Fungai Berevedzai finally emerged out of the water.
The question that has gripped Mapanzure people is, what went wrong with the baptism process? Why would the gods not allow baptism to take place this time? Why would the pool which is a playing ground for young boys suddenly become a death trap for devout Christians?
The speculation was that Village head Tazvigwira had goblins. The Mirror confronted him with the question. He was stunned and all he could say was please help me.