HARARE – Six juveniles, including a one-year-old, died in a baptism ritual that went horribly wrong in the district of Chikomba, Mashonaland East Province in the early hours of Wednesday, police say.
The baptism ritual that was being conducted by two self-styled prophets has left villagers in the usually peaceful district in shock.
In a statement, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the horrific incident occurred after the “prophets” Maud Dzvuke, 30, and Jane Ruvinga, 34, took nine juveniles for baptism in a stream known as Mutorahuku.
Police have identified the deceased children as Tafadzwa Dzvuke, 5, Tinotenda Dzvuke, 3, Emmanuel Dzvuke, 7, all of Tiyemba Village, Patience Pfumbidza, 9, Shamiso Pfumbidza, 4, both of Muriwo Village and Blessed Muvadi, 1, of Dzvuke Village.
The children were from different villages under headman Mutengwa in Chief Neshangwe’s area.
Charamba said the matter came to light after Tony Kondo,17, met one of the children aged four as he ran away from being baptised and took him to the stream where he found six others frothing from the mouth while the so-called prophets watched.
“After realising the condition of the children, one of the self-styled prophets started speaking in tongues as if she was possessed and ordered Kondo to ferry the children to her shrine for prayers. Six juveniles died at the shrine while the other two were ferried to Sadza District Hospital where they were admitted in serious condition,” Charamba said.
She added that the “prophets fled the area after realising that their “patients” had died.
The two were later arrested and are being charged with culpable homicide.
“We would like to warn members of the public to desist from engaging in dangerous practices under the guise of freedom of worship because the law will descend heavily on them,” Charamba warned.