Sect conceals 40 graves under sweet potato beds Following a detailed report by Mashonaland West medical director, Dr Celestino Dhege, during the Government’s provincial heads meeting held in Chinhoyi recently, the Government, which is still conducting investigations and looking for solutions to end untimely deaths of young ones as parents, ardent believers of apostolic sects, deny them access to medical health care, is aware of over 40 secret burials conducted in Hurungwe district.

Conrad MupesaMashonaland West Bureau

THE Government now believes over 40 undocumented burials were conducted in deep-rooted apostolic communities in Hurungwe, where the graves were turned into sweet potato and tomato beds.

Following a detailed report by Mashonaland West medical director, Dr Celestino Dhege, during the Government’s provincial heads meeting held in Chinhoyi recently, the Government, which is still conducting investigations and looking for solutions to end untimely deaths of young ones as parents, ardent believers of apostolic sects, deny them access to medical health care, is aware of over 40 secret burials conducted in Hurungwe district.

The communities of Maronda/Mangate, Shumba, Village 5, Chakaraya and Dzokamushure Villages in Hurungwe District have seen sprouting vegetable gardens and beds each morning unaware that underneath the fertile soils lies a child denied medical attention.

“We are told that over 40 secret burials were conducted in Hurungwe area, where parents would then plant sweet potatoes and tomatoes on top to conceal evidence of their bad acts. Investigations are ongoing and we will get to the bottom of this.

“As a province, we are working towards giving the communities knowledge regarding the dangers of various diseases that the nation faces. 

“My office was briefed by health officials that in the Hurungwe area, where these deaths and secret burials occurred, there was an outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases, mumps and measles,” said Dr Dhege, adding that a household in Ward 22 had lost children aged 12, nine, seven, three, one and half years within a short space of time.

Dr Dhege said there was a need for legislators to come up with laws that protect children from inconsiderate parents amid revelations that many were succumbing to measles, cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

Wards 4 and 22 of Hurungwe Rural District Council were the most affected by cases of mumps and measles and Dr Dhege said it was high time punitive measures are put to deter would-be offenders to protect the children.

“On a sad note, apostolic (Marange) communities hide these incidents. 

“Where we have outbreaks like cholera and measles, some apostolic members bury their children at night after denying them access to medical care.

“To conceal the horrendous act, they plant sweet potatoes on top of the graves.” 

Dr Dhege added that even traditional leaders were in some cases not informed of the deaths.

“To them, the death of a child is not as significant as we think. They believe children are like bricks, more will be moulded,” he said without divulging the number of children who died from the outbreaks.

Dr Dhege said although there was a challenge with the sect, some churches were now secretly approaching health officials to have their children vaccinated.

A 23-year-old mother Tariro Gambe who was recently divorced and ex-communicated by her parents for seeking medical attention said she took the bold step after losing lost her nine-year-old child in March this year.

The President’s Office has since engaged the church with Mutare West legislator, Nyasha Marange to spearhead the campaign to encourage members of the sect to seek medical attention.

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