A 14-year-old girl is reported to have died while giving birth, in a case that has threatened to reveal rampant abuse of young girls in some Apostolic Churches (sects) in Zimbabwe.
Social media platforms went ablaze with an image that was said to be of the young girl Memory Machaya.
Memory Machaya died while giving birth at a Johanne Marange church shrine in Bocha, Mutare.
She died after giving birth to a baby boy.
Memory’s mother, Shy Mabika was allegedly denied access to her when she was giving birth. After Memory’s death her mother went through further agony as she was denied access to her daughter’s burial.
Bizarrely, in an attempt to cover up the death of Memory and perhaps other abuses in this church, Memory’s mother and family relatives were forced to remain silent and were not allowed to mourn her.
Zimbabweans of all walks of life have expressed utter disgust at the abuse that young girls are suffering at the hands of the leaders of these apostolic sects.
Many have taken to social media calling on the police to find the man that impregnated the young girl arguing that this was a clear case of statutory rape.
Report Focus News spoke to Pastor Stephanie Chiyangwa, senior pastor at Cornerstone Church, and sought her comments on the sad events that have enraged many Zimbabweans across the world. The following was her statement:
“Over the last few days, I have watched in horror as the images of a young girl from Zimbabwe (14 years old) circulated following her untimely death during childbirth. Upon further investigation it has been revealed that this girl was a member of the Apostolic sect and she was married off to a grown man at the age of 13 and he immediately impregnated her.
It is not only horrific, but it is also Ungodly. I cannot begin to imagine the pain, trauma, and suffering that this young girl went through during the 1 1/12 years she was this man’s victim masqueraded as his wife.
The abuse of girls and women in the church has been something that many have not spoken about and yet it is something that is highly prevalent. The church has damaged many young girls and women and scared them for life.
What is saddening is that this is supposed to be an institution that provides healing, refuge, and protection for all those who seek it. Many men of God have and continue to groom, abuse, and violate young girls. What is more saddening is that these rapists and paedophiles have manipulated scriptures such 1 Chronicles 16 vs 22 as a cover for their sins.
If I were to leave out the part played by those around these “men of God” to pimp, scout, cover and facilitate these abuses I would not have shed enough light on this issue. Many men and women know about these abuses, many of them are facilitators and they have also taken part in silencing victims, this must come to an end.
Those that have watched, silenced, assaulted, insulted, and facilitated for the abuse of girls and women in the church are just as culpable as those who are committing these atrocities. God is not blind to your evil deeds.
As a woman of God, I would like to say this to the women and young girls that have been abused by the church, I am sorry.
I am sorry that certain individuals have chosen to use the most important and most sacred institution to abuse you, to manipulate you, to rape you and to violate you. You are loved by God, and it is not in his will that you must be exposed to a life of sin and a life of trauma in his house, in his name and by those who claim to represent him.
As a ministry, we felt it incumbent upon us to facilitate a platform via the charity arm of our ministry Help Us Help Ourselves to support victims and families of those that have been victimised particularly in a sexual way and those abused in emotionally and financially in general.
We have also sought the support of various psychologists, social workers, advocates, and legal practitioners to support victims and the families of those going through these traumas.
I personally in my individual capacity, and as a leader and a woman in ministry, call upon the authorities the Zimbabwean government to address this particular issue and many others that are emerging.
One behalf of my church and ministry I express utter disgust and disappointment that such atrocious acts are taking place in Zimbabwe and little in terms of justice seems to be done. There seems to be no deterrents to such vile acts, and indeed this is not only worrying but a grave cause of concern.
The government of Zimbabwe and all the authorities that are designated to have oversight on such matters, have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable and must account to all citizens. Your silence on this and many other similar matters seemingly appears as though you are condoning these atrocities.
More needs to be done. Indeed, Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.”