The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has requested the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Officer Commanding Manicaland Province to disperse thousands of members of the Johane Marange Apostolic Sect who are gathered for their annual Passover in Marange in defiance of lockdown measures.
In a statement, the ZLHR said they also want the leaders of the sect to be arrested and charged for violating national lockdown regulations. ZLHR said:
We have written to [ZRP] Officer Commanding Manicaland Province complaining about cops’ complacency in enforcing COVID-19 regulations by not dispersing Johane Marange Apostolic sect worshippers, who are currently gathered at a vigil in Mafararikwa village.
We expressed concern over this neglect of duty by police as this public gathering is a super spreader of COVID-19 and a public health hazard with far-reaching consequences on the community of Manicaland.
We have asked [ZRP] to enforce the law impartially and to disperse the crowd and arrest and charge the church leadership for violating national lockdown regulations.
We have asked [ZRP] to rapidly respond within 24 hours failure of which we will sue the State for facilitating a public health hazard.
The Johanne Marange Apostolic sect gathering commenced on 3 July is scheduled to run up to 17 July. Reports suggest that some of the congregants have crossed borders to attend the ceremony.
Some observers have opined that the government has turned a blind eye to the gathering because the church’s leaders are political bedfellows with the ruling ZANU PF party.