The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zimbabwe has revoked the refugee status of three self-professed satanists who were last year placed in Harare Remand Prison after they applied for permission to start a satanism church at a refugee camp in the country.
The three, George Rene Longange and Ngezi Ngendo Bragston from Congo, and their Rwandese counterpart Busy Mana Thenetse, were arrested last year after they filed an application with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to start a satanism church at Tongogora Refugee Camp. They have been awaiting deportation since their arrest.
They came into the country as official refugees after fleeing civil war and persecution in their countries.
Zimbabwe Prison Services spokesperson Superintendent Elizabeth Banda confirmed the development.
"The three are still amongst us but their refugee status has been revoked.
"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is now facilitating their deportation to a country of their choice and as soon as the process is complete, they will leave," she said.
Despite pleas by both prison officials and the country's director-general of Zimbabwe Prison Services Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi that the men were sowing fear among other prison inmates and prison staff, they could not quickly be deported due to their refugee status.
Under UN regulations, refugees must stay where they are or find a third country willing to take them if it is not safe for them to return home.
Though they spent months amidst fellow inmates, the three are now in seclusion.
She said prison authorities were putting pressure on the UN to expedite the deportation process.
During a recent Prisons' Stakeholders Conference, Rtd Maj Gen Zimondi pleaded with church leaders to help rid Harare Remand Prison of the three.