Mkhululi Ncube, chronicler
On Monday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) faced face-to-face violation of children’s health rights when it visited a family of the Johanne Marange apostolic sect in the village of Gwambe, Bulilima district, which believes in seeking medical care.
The Mazali family, who have lost four children in less than seven months to unknown illnesses, did not take the minors to any clinic or hospital.
The children belong to four Mazali brothers who are all in polygamous marriages, each with two wives.
The first to die was 16-month-old Mthokozisi Ncube, in September last year, followed by one-year-old Abednico on March 3 this year, then three-year-old Annabel, 13 days later, and the last eight-month-old Peter, who died on April 23rd.
The family did not inform community leaders about the first three deaths and secretly buried the children.
The last child died on a mountain near the property during a night vigil where he was taken to pray while trying to save his life.
When this failed, the women of the four brothers are said to have taken the body and thrown it into their mother-in-law’s bedroom.
They allegedly threatened to return to their respective families saying they were tired of losing their children without action being taken.
This forced the mother-in-law to report them to the village chief, who in turn reported the matter to Chief Kandana, who called the police.
Police took the body to Plumtree District Hospital to do it post-mortem and diagnosed the cause of death as “not thriving.”
A medical expert said not prospering means the child is not growing well.
A four-member delegation from the ZHRC commission led by Vice President Dorothy Moyo and Bulilima District Coordinator, Erica Makwindi’s executive assistant, visited the family property on Monday.
He was joined by Chief Takalinga and the chief of the village area, Bunyonyo.
Head of village Bunyonyo
The commission’s visits came after a story published by Chronicle, which exposed the family fleeing hospitals, vaccination and doctor-assisted childbirth.
The family, which supports polygamy and has as many children as possible, is adamant that death would rather end the whole clan than have one of them step on a hospital.
The ZHRC vice president and her team tried to convince the family of the need to respect children’s rights, as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
During the meeting it also emerged that there was a child who had never been to school and did not have a birth certificate, as his mother separated from one of the polygamous siblings due to his refusal to seek medical attention. .
The mother left three children on the farm; two have birth certificates, but the youngest does not.
A representative of the girl’s family and father, Mr Siza Ncube, who seemed baffled by the issue, said he will explain to her when she is mature why she did not go to school.
Mr. Siza Ncube
Another daughter-in-law of the family, who is pregnant, is said to have returned to her family last week in protest after the deaths.
Ncube told the delegation that the family is governed only by the Bible and not by the Constitution.
“We will never go to the hospital unless you stop us and chain us, but other than that it will never happen. Our desire is that you leave us alone to practice our religion in peace. We do not mix religion and medicine because, once we had done so, we would have abandoned our faith, ”said the bearded Mr. Ncube.
He said if a member of the sect goes to the hospital it will be a sign that they would not have been able to practice their region, which the family will not do even at the risk of everyone dying.
He also said the family interprets the commission’s visit as trying to force them to live “on their way”.
“If you don’t arrest us, leave us alone. You will never understand what we do because you are in the world and we are in the light.
We may talk all day, but nothing will change talking to us. All of these deaths that worry you are the consequences that the Bible clearly says we will experience in this life, ”he said.
Ncube said he regards the rights of children that ZHRC educated them about as the “gospel of the world” that has nothing to do with them.
He said that even if hundreds of reasons are given to change their minds about hospitalization or if all government departments congregate on property, they will not move.
The family matriarch, Mrs. Percy Ncube, who is the church’s midwife, said she can never deviate from the path her husband left her and the family.
“I have nothing to say that serves to inform you that I am without hospitalization. You are not the first to come here and we will never change. I will also continue to deliver the babies, ”he said.
After about two hours of conversation, the delegation left the house with the family still determined as always.
Ms. Moyo, vice president of the ZHRC, said it was sad that there are still sects that trample on children’s rights through their religious beliefs.
He said the next line of action will be determined through a report they will compile.
“We came to Gwambe Village because of the problem of this apostolic sectarian family of Johanne Marange who does not think she is taking her children to the hospital. The family is adamant that their religion does not allow them to do so.
“It is sad that we still have sects and communities that do not believe in hospitals. Nor do they believe the Constitution binds them. From here we will prepare a report that will determine the next line of action “, said Mrs. Moyo.
Chief Takalinga said the family is at high risk of being destroyed by treatable diseases.
The chief said traditional leadership is required by the Constitution, which gives the family the right to practice their beliefs.
He challenged the Government through its departments to enforce the law which deals with cases where the community is at risk of infectious diseases in case the family is infected.
The commission hired community leaders that included traditional and ecclesiastical human rights leaders at the nearby Magabha Mall. – @themkhust.