The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Saturday claimed that there was no unusual gathering of members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect in Manicaland in violation of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The ZRP said that those who are said to have gathered for an annual festival were actually permanent residents at a shrine there.
This comes after activists urged the police to act against the thousands that allegedly congregated at Mafararikwa in Bocha as they were violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Thousands of Johane Marange sect members are said to have been gathered since 3 July and only started dispersing last night.
Police, who have been saying they were not aware of what was happening at the shrine, on Saturday said there was never a gathering. National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said:
As far as the police is concerned, there are no people gathered in Marange except for those who are permanent residents at the shrine.
Police have deployed officers on the ground to monitor the situation.
Police in Marange, Manicaland, in their findings said there are no people gathered in Marange.
Last week the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) wrote to the police demanding action to disperse the church members, raising COVID-19 fears. The police did not respond to the 12 July letter.
Manicaland-based Bocha Diamond Community Trust chairman Moses Mukwada also gave police 48 hours to act, but there was no action.
There are fears within the Marange community that there could be a COVID-19 outbreak as the shrine was overcrowded.
Mukwada claimed that there were political bigwigs, who were in support of the gathering.