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Catholic priest under probe for harassing teachers, corruption

by Simbarashe Sithole
08 Jan 2023 at 08:56hrs | Views
A Catholic resident priest at St Benedict High School, Fr Innocent Mangwiro is at loggerheads with the mission's authority and is now under investigation over allegations of misconduct, corrupt tendencies and harassment of the school's staff.

His misconduct has allegedly seen an exodus of experienced teachers and has also hampered any progress at the school.

Last year alone, at least seven teachers are alleged to have left, with more expressing intentions to leave – as they run away from verbal and physical harassment.

Government has since opened a live investigation into the matter through the provincial education office.

Manicaland Provincial Education director Mr Edward Shumba confirmed the case and said they have since received the letter from the School Development Committee (SDC).

 "These are serious allegations which we cannot take lightly. These are still allegations and I have instructed the audit team to leave no stone unturned until we get to the bottom of the issue.

"The team said they need at least three working days to do their work and it is up until they compile the report that I will be in a position to give you facts on the matter," said Mr Shumba.

 He said the matter ,might be erroneous or an issue of infighting between the Priest and the SDC so there is no need to rush into conclusions.

"Whenever a report is made, we evaluate on the possible causes which might be disgruntlement amongst the interested parties and general infighting," he said.

In a letter dated November 21, 2022, to the Provincial Education Director, the School Development Committee raised several allegations against the man of cloth.

"The priest made payments amounting to slightly over US$29 000 without authority of the SDC and Finance Committee.

"He also bulldozed his way into school finances, forcing the school to pay him a monthly salary, even though the church, through the bishop, advises schools not to pay Priests and only remit the 15% levy from where the church will cater for all Priest's welfare," read the letter.

The letter further stated that the man of cloth made life hard for the headmaster, Mr Ceaser Chakara until he facilitated his exit from the school.

In an interview with, Mr Tatenda Chidakwa, one of the teachers who left the school due to unfavourable treatment at the hands of the priest said life was like hell back then.

"Working with the priest was like hell. When he came to the school, he wanted to change almost everything on the pretext that he said we were doing things wrong.

"The headmaster we had back had a developmental mindset. He is the one who facilitated the purchase of the school bus and truck but when the priest came, all of his ideas were shot down.

"Anyone who seems to be siding with the headmaster automatically became the priest's enemy," said Mr Chidakwa.

All the money, Mr Chidakwa said, was now supposed to come through the hands of the priest who would spend it at his will.

In a separate interview, another male teacher who spoke to Bulawayo on condition of anonymity - who is now teaching at another school after he succumbed to the pressures of the priest said the man of the cloth is ruining the school gradually.

"St Benedict High School has its squabbles created by the coming in of the new priest. When I was still there, the moment I conflicted with his way of running the school, the priest created negative stories about me only to pacify me," he said.

He said the priest went on to accuse him of witchcraft, the accusations which had no evidence until he decided to leave the school.

Mr Davison Mawire, School Development Committee vice chairperson, claimed that the man of the cloth was a stumbling block to any development that needs to take place at the institution.

"He is a known drunkard, at one point he assaulted a security guard on duty, while drunk.

"The video even went viral on social media. Many people thought it was a skit or something, but it was a true incident at our school," said Mr Mawire.

Mr Mawire said, when the 2022 grade seven results came out, the priest was away, and he called to stop the deputy head to suspend enrollment form one student until he returns.

"This is a move which hampered our efforts as a school because when we later started enrolment, the best students with the best results had been enrolled by another school.

"This means we had to compromise our cut-off margin," he added.

The Priest's bad habit is not limited to school premises, it is alleged that whenever he gets intoxicated with alcohol, he becomes a nuisance to people he encounters.

At one point he is accused of indecently harassing one Eneresi Chachoka a young woman who used to be a shopkeeper working at the nearest Kapiya business centre.

When contacted, Chachoka was evasive to the questions.

"Haah ndezvakudhara, zvakangoitika ka1 chete, I think kudhakwa (it is the story from long back and I think it was caused by drunkenness)," she said before terminating the call.

The SADC vice chairman Mr Mawire confirmed that the audit team concluded their task on Friday and the report is expected to be released this week for the wayfoward.

"The audit went well despite the fact that the Priest snubbed the audit team although he had promised to come when they called him to the school.

"However, the acting headmaster, Mrs Nyakonda sent us message on our committee WhatsApp group saying that there is communication made from the Diocese that whenever we have any need, we contact another Priest identified as Fr Nyakatsari," he said.

"When auditors came, they called Fr Mangwiro to come but he never arrived until the time of their departure despite having promised to come," he said.

Efforts to get a comment from Fr Innocent Mangwiro were fruitless as his mobile number went unanswered and he did not respond to questions sent to his mobile phone however the results of the audit are expected soon after the compilation of the report is complete.

Source - Byo24News