Church refuses to bury veld fire victims

Church refuses to bury veld fire victims

27 September 2016

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Zimbabwe —  Family members of three victims of a veld fire in Chitomborwizi, Mashonaland West Province, yesterday refused to bury the other two because they were taken to hospital against their religious beliefs. Devout members of the Johane Marange apostolic sect, the Kore family and church members only participated in the burial of one of the victims who was not taken to hospital since she died on the spot.The other two victims were buried by members of the community. Tension characterised the burial yesterday at Kore Farm in the Matoranjera area of Chitomborwizi resettlement scheme as family and church members “disowned” two of their members.

They vowed not to participate in the burial process and allowed other non-Johane Marange sect members and the community to go ahead with the burial. Tragedy struck the Kore homestead on Friday afternoon when a raging veld fire led to the death on the spot of Germina Sotera (35) who was entangled by grass knots while trying to escape the fire.

They had teamed up to prevent the fire from spreading from a nearby farm.

Her husband Peter Kore (39) tried to help Sotera and was also engulfed by the fire while a distance away, their niece Edith Gwite (27) was also caught up in the fire.

Kore and Gwite were alive when they were rescued and were later taken to Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.

This was after the intervention of local Member of the House of Assembly Cde Kindness Paradza who called an ambulance after four hours.

The family had sought to keep the two at home in line with their religious beliefs that they should not use conventional hospitals and medicine.

“We will not have anything to do with the two (Kore and his niece Gwite), as they became tainted by agreeing to go to the hospital,” said one church leaders whose name could not be established.

Cde Paradza who facilitated the ambulance that ferried the two to Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, said it was not their fault.

“They had no choice because we just organised an ambulance for them after realising that they had been kept unattended for up to four hours,” said Cde Paradza.

He implored the community to work together to fight and avoid veld fires.

Cde Paradza torched a storm when he told the gathering that inasmuch as they could not bury their members, they should immunise their children.

They refused saying it was against their religious beliefs, arguing that the country’s laws allowed religious pluralism and theirs was no exception.

Cde Paradza said the sect leadership needed to be engaged so that unnecessary loss of life was avoided.

“The issue of immunisation is a serious one, which requires that we engage the church leadership including Madzibaba Noah Taguta. There is need to educate them on the importance of immunising their children,” he said.

Government is on record saying all children should be immunised.

Mashonaland West Provincial Administrator Mr Mike Mazai also said communities should take seriously conservation issues. The villagers teamed up to put out a fire that had been started by one Fransisca Koche (69) of the nearby Chiota farm when she wanted to clear her farming land.

The fire spread to three other farms, leading to the destruction of at least three huts, household property and about 500ha of land.

Environmental Management Agency Mashonaland West spokesperson Mr Munyaradzi Nhariswa said Koche is expected to appear in court on Wednesday facing charges of contravening sections of the Forest Act.

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