Zimbabwe: Defiant Churches Face Prosecution

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Churches that breach the lockdown regulations by holding face-to-face services run the risk of being prosecuted, police have said.

A number of churches have either resumed face-to-face services or never stopped their regular gatherings, in direct violation of national regulations aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19.

The Herald has also established that some especially apostolic sects have also begun holding night vigils despite a curfew that bans people from being outdoors after 6:30pm, except for those offering essential services.

Last Friday, police in Chitungwiza arrested two people, Clyton Makavi (35) and Tendai Zhakata (30), for leading a Johane Masowe church service at an open space in Zengeza 5 Extension with approximately 23 members in attendance.

The church members were also arrested and fined.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said it was worrying to note that people were continuing to engage in such practices countrywide. "The Zimbabwe Republic Police warns the public against breaching Covid-19 regulations by holding church services.

"On July 23, 2021, police in Chitungwiza arrested Clyton Makavi (35) and Tendai Zhakata (30) for leading a Johane Masowe church service at an open space in Zengeza 5 Extension, Chitungwiza with approximately 23 members comprising men and women," he said.

Asst Comm Nyathi said criminals were also targeting people holding all night vigils, especially in secluded places.

Under the lockdown regulations, all public gatherings are banned except for funerals where not more than 30 people are allowed to attend. Early this month, Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches and Zionists in Africa (UDACIZA) secretary-general Reverend Edson Tsvakai urged all apostolic members to adhere to the national lockdown regulations.

"We cannot win the fight against Covid-19 when we still gather to worship, we should obey and follow what our Government is saying about this disease which is continuing threatening the lives of majority of people in the world," he said.

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