IN a bizarre incident, a prominent church in Kwekwe has come under the spotlight after it was found in possession of a coffin, a human skull and other human remains which its leaders claim are used for ritual purposes.
The church leadership has also failed to explain the source of the remains. The national leader of Masonic Temple of the MacDonalds’ Grand Master, James Chigwedere, revealed that it was their religion’s requirement to keep human remains in temples throughout the country.
In a statement recorded by police, Kwekwe church leader, Marthinus Pretorius also agreed with Chigwedere that their religion prescribes that they keep human remains in the church.
“Police received a tip-off from an anonymous caller that Ian Annandale was keeping smuggled goods at Masonic Temple of the MacDonalds in Newton, Kwekwe. A search was conducted and the team discovered an empty wooden coffin, a skull and two radius bones on top of the cabinet in a room at the back of the church. Annandale referred police to Marthinus Pretorius.
"He was contacted on his cellphone and indicated that the skull and bones were for religious purposes left by previous Masonic Temple of the MacDonalds church members. He said the remains were over 75 years old. Pretorius referred police to James Chigwedere the Grand Master of all Masonic Temple of the MacDonalds churches in Zimbabwe who stated that it was their religion’s requirement to keep the skulls and bones in their temples,” reads a police statement.
Pretorius was dragged to court last Thursday facing charge of violating a corpse. He appeared before Gweru magistrate, Mr Phineas Murandu. He pleaded not guilty and the matter was remanded to 7 May for trial. For the State, Mr Fredrick Macheza alleged that the church was found in possession of human remains whose source is not known. He said in 2016, police received a tip-off from an anonymous caller that Ian Annandale was keeping smuggled goods at Masonic Temple of the MacDonalds in Newton Kwekwe. A search was conducted leading to the recovery of the human remains. The remains were taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where they were examined by pathologists who confirmed that they were human remains. This led to Pretorius’ arrest.