The Johanne Marange Apostolic Church in Marange has apologised over the death of Anna Machaya, a 14-year-old married girl, who died on 15 July 2021 while giving birth at the church’s shrine in Bocha in the Marange area.
The alleged husband to Machaya – Evans Hatirarami Momberume – was arrested and has since appeared at Mutare Magistrate Court where he is facing rape and murder charges.
Magistrate Lucy Mungwari denied him bail and remanded him in custody to September 3.
In an interview with Zim Morning Post on Wedsday, The Johanne Marange Apostolic church spokesperson, Nyasha Marange, said the church regretted the incident describing it as ‘unfortunate.’ He said:
First of all, we are sorry of the incident and it was so unfortunate. But, we want to make it clear that our church abides and respect the laws of our government.
Our leader High Priest Noah Taguta and the followers of the church, we all respect the laws that govern Zimbabwe. We have high respect to our government and as a church, we also have our laws that clearly state that girls under the age of 18 are not married.
We make it a point that in every preaching sermon, our priests always preach the word against child marriages. It is one of our church doctrines that is against the practise of child marriages.
He said the case of Machaya was an ‘isolated case’ further claiming that “there are rogue elements within the church who might be practising child marriages and the church will deal with such cases accordingly.”
Anna Machaya’s death attracted massive criticism from local and international human rights activists and organizations including the United Nations.
Marange added that Church members don’t go to the hospital to receive any medication as they have prophets who “use our holy water and prayers.”
He added that the church has now put measures aimed at mitigating cases of child marriages.
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