Kudzai Chikiwa, Showbiz Reporter
“We were madly in love. She was my girlfriend. I didn’t rape her, we had sex several times and she wanted it too,” said Johanne Masowe weChishanu prophet, Simon Dabengwa, when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Mafios Moyo for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl recently.
The court heard that the man of the cloth tried to buy the teenager’s silence with $5 before threatening to kill her.
It makes society uncomfortable when “prophets” who are ideally meant to be shepherds become predators. Instead of wiping the tears of helpless congregants, these “prophets” are now becoming the thorn in the flesh of feeble women.
A few days ago, a video clip of a woman accusing Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries founder, Walter Magaya, of raping and impregnating her daughter went viral on social media, sparking debate on various platforms about the allegations.
Whether it is true or not remains a matter for debate but there is no smoke without fire. It appears as if the 40-year jail term for Independent End Time Message Church founder, Robert Martin Gumbura, set the pace for the new generation of “prophets” to prey on congregants as these self proclaimed prophets continuously appear in court on rape charges.
Social and religious analyst Brian Moyo said most people who fall prey to the cunning “prophets” are those who see the leaders as second Pauls who have crucified their human nature together with Christ.
“I’m not against prophets or religious leaders but my problem is with those who put all their trust in a human being as if they are God. These so-called pastors don’t live in spirit and they’re not immune to sin. I have a problem with a parent who sends their girl child to a prophet without supervision,” Moyo said.
He said once prophets realise that someone is desperate, they take advantage.
“People have become so desperate that when a pastor says I’ll spend the night praying for you, they comply.
“This thing of wanting blessings has overtaken the act of actually worshipping God. Such perpetrators should be held accountable,” he said.
Bulawayo resident Thembelihle Nkala said “prophets” threaten to curse congregants if they report them, which in turn causes them (victims) to keep crimes against them a secret.
“These people have become so tactical and they abuse their offices. Many times, even if you sit in court, you hear victims saying the prophet threatened to curse them. And you know what happens when you become deeply religious, the prophet becomes your commander,” she said.
The principal of the Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ) who is also a board member of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), Dr Ray Motsi said it is sad that church leaders have lost their ideal role of being shepherds.
He said church members are vulnerable and prone to abuse because they have invested their trust in church leaders instead of God.
“Ideally, a pastor is meant to be a shepherd that protects. Sheep are known for being vulnerable and prone to attack by wild animals like hyenas hence God designed a fellow man to protect the flock from such predators. It’s sad how the shepherds have suddenly turned into the hyenas and are preying on congregants,” he said.
Dr Motsi urged pastors to accept that they are not angels and avoid finding themselves in compromising situations with people of the opposite sex.
“We’re not angels and we’re prone to sin. It’s not proper to schedule a counselling meeting with a woman in an office, just the two of you. Seek for a third party to avoid evil appearance,” he said.
He said anyone who violates the law of the land should be punished and held accountable.
“Elderly people shouldn’t judge congregants when they come with reports. Sit down with them and never rush to defend your prophet,” he said. — @tamary98