Church blasts Vapostori over Biriiri High cleansing . . . chief’s actions described as ‘offside’

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THE United Baptist Church, the responsible authority at Biriiri High School, which was in the eye of a Satanism storm, has come out guns blazing at members of an apostolic sect who held an unsanctioned cleansing ceremony at the school at the behest of the local traditional leadership. A mysterious ailment has been affecting female learners at the United Baptist Church-run institution. The affected learners’ legs would suddenly start shivering, leaving them bed-ridden.

Recently at least 28 learners were reportedly affected and a cleansing ceremony was held at the mission under the supervision of Acting Chief Saurombe. It was during the deliverance rituals when one of the girls allegedly uttered the names of a UBC cleric and four senior teachers as the Satanism ringleaders at the institution. However, the church through its spokesperson and secretary-general, Mr Innocent Dube, said it did not subscribe to the cultic activities that were forcibly done at the school.

“The move was ignominious. United Baptist Church beliefs have no allegiance to the occult practices of ‘Mapositori sect’ who forcibly stormed our station without any permission from us. They carried out their cleansing rituals in an unwelcomed fashion. Despite the tepid response they got at the station, they called a few students to perform their cleansing rituals. The event was very disgraceful as it violated our basis of faith.

“Biriiri Mission is a privately owned property which belongs to the United Baptist Church and no one has the right to trespass into our boundaries. We do not advocate the notion of undertaking unauthorised entry into our premise regardless of the ranks people may occupy. While we respect our visitors, it is not within their jurisdiction to forcefully get into the station to deal with issues in a manner that goes against our faith,” said Mr Dube.

He added: “Our doorsteps should always be neighbourly and seeing to it that the culture of our civilisation coincides with our brother’s culture to enable us to have a friendly co-existence. The civilisation of our culture should not be a stumbling block to other brothers’ ways of addressing matters.

Under fire . . . Chief Saurombe

Time shall come when progress of communities shall be judged neither by the splendouur of their shops nor by the population of their residents, but by the well-being and disposition of their people. We are neighbours by geography and by cultural affinity. Therefore we should preach peace everywhere.

“If people have a case against any of our members in the mission, they are supposed to invite the accused outside without interfering with the mission’s set-up. Members can be subpoenaed as witnesses outside the mission station. People should respect the school as well as the responsible authority and when there are issues, people should fully utilise the relevant structures as guided by the station head. It is not proper to frog- march the mission residents as well as our students.”

On the alleged implicated members, Mr Dube said they do not hold cases against them until sufficient evidence is obtained.

“We, however, continue to investigate if there can be any one of them with such a devilish practice. However, if deemed present, the responsible authority will not at all condone such behaviour. We will take necessary steps to get rid of them from the station.”

Mr Dube said the ailment affecting the female learners at the school was not unique to Biriiri High School as other schools across the country also had similar experiences before.

“The disease is believed to be common among female learners, which is also the case with Biriiri students. The ailment is believed to be a psychologically contagious viral condition. However, such a disease is not unique to Biriiri High School alone since boarding schools and day schools around the country have also grappled with that untimely challenge.

“In the ugly face of such a challenge, the responsible authority, United Baptist Church head office has not been just watching from Harare as published in your recent edition. We have never folded hands on this matter. The office has been addressing both the spiritual and medical dimensions.

“However, we could neither sound a siren nor sound a bell as an alarm to notify the passers-by and traditional leaders to come and witness our indoor activities. The fact that people did not know what was happening in our station does not guarantee anyone to trespass our boundaries. The fact that we did not invite anyone to witness our indoor activities should not be considered as a breach to the law.”

He said the church’s chairman, Reverend Austin Mabhena, and vice-chairman Rev Irvine Moyo had conducted interviews with students and members of staff to establish the source of the problem.

“Pastors and church members from nearby church districts such as Mhakwe, Rusitu, Mutare, Ndima, Chipinge and Chimanimani were asked to converge at Biriiri for prayers. Some of the students were healed. Bishop Dr Joshua Dhube, one of our church advisors and retired church chairman, conducted a spiritually enriching weekend revival and a number of students gave their lives to Jesus Christ,” said Mr Dube.

Pastors from nearby church districts, he said, have been coming in their large numbers to pray for the students and staff. The responsible authority also declared Friday as a fasting and prayer day for Biriiri Mission. This was followed by an all-night of prayer as a national event at the station.  Many students were delivered. The education board members led by Mr Collen Mtisi have been meeting too in a bid to have the problem addressed. Mr Dube said all affected students had been medically examined.

“Affected students were referred to the hospital and a number of them were cured. The gesture is in line with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s expectation that if a student is ill, he/she shall be referred to a medical practitioner.

“We deployed medical practitioners to the school and were led by one of our hospital doctors, Dr Mugari, to try and rescue the situation. The doctors had time with our students and some were helped.

“Hostels were disinfected to try and kill the pathogenic elements, which also helped to some extent. Parents were allowed to take their children for further medical attention, while the church also deployed a well-qualified nurse to help the students,” said Mr Dube.