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Hubby accuses male church elders of mutilating wife's private parts

by Mafu Sithabile
09 Jul 2011 at 07:26hrs | Views
A Gweru man, Isaac Katunga allegedly visited the offices of Gweru's state controlled newspaper Chronicle, accusing Zion Christ Church (ZCC) Windsor Park branch elders of mutilating his wife, Precious' private parts in an incident which he alleged was done for ritual purposes, Chronicle reported on Thursday.

ZCC Windsor Park heads of the church, Minister Obert Marapira, went to Chronicle offices on Wednesday in the company of other church elders, dismissed as false reports that the church is in the habit of conducting operations on female members' private parts as a way of exorcising demons.

Minister Marapira, however, acknowledged that the church uses elderly church women to attended to women who develop some growths on their private parts.

He said the procedure was not done for ritual purposes but health reasons.

"If a church member has a problem, he or she will be attended to by the relevant people. If female she will be attended to by females and if he is a male, he can only be attended to by males. It is taboo in our church and even in African culture for a male member to attend to a female member who has a problem on her private parts like what is being alleged by this Phiri whom we don't know in our church," said Minister Marapira.

The church minister disowned "Prophet Phiri" who was said to have conducted the surgical operation on the concerned woman, Precious.

Minister Marapira said the church had many Phiris, who were, however, ordinary church members.

"Our church does not even conduct surgical operations unlike other sects. We actually refer our church members with ailments that need surgical operations to the hospital," he said.

Minister Marapira also dismissed Mr Katunga's claims that they had a meeting with him and said he could have been duped by "Prophet Phiri" into believing that the surgical operation was done with the church's blessings.

"The fact that Mr Katunga indicated that we promised him to call our bishop in Harare raises questions because our bishop is actually based in Mbungu in Masvingo," he said.

According to Chronicle its Gweru office was on Wednesday inundated with calls from different people who developed interest in the story.

The members of the public gave different views on the matter, with some saying the operation which was done on the woman by the church was normal.

They said it was a normal procedure which was done on women who develop some growth known as Sare in Shona on women's private parts, which they alleged could cause infertility.

"I have read one of the stories which you published in your paper today [Wednesday] and I wonder what's the fuss. The procedure is normal in African culture. When a woman develops a growth on her private parts, it may bring with it some misfortunes and it has to be trimmed like what happened to this woman," said one Mr Joseph Mkoka who said he was a traditional healer from Mkoba Village 11.

Mr Mkoka said what was only abnormal on Mrs Katunga's case was that she was attended to by a male adult.

Another traditional healer who only identified himself as Mr Dube, also from Mkoba suburb, said the procedure was common in many cultures.

"This thing is common with all cultures across the world but it only depends on how different cultures address it.

In our culture when one develops sare, it has to be cut off by elders or an inyanga.  If it is not trimmed, the woman will either give birth to children who will not see the light of day, that is if that woman is lucky to have been married in the first place, or she will never bear any children," he said.

Some, however, argued that the move by the church was uncalled for and should be investigated by the police.

Mrs Wadzanai Savanhu said she has seen a lot of women whose private parts had been tampered with.

"I think this man (Mr Katunga) needs to be educated that there is nothing unique about what happened to his wife. It's very normal. I know a lot of women who underwent this operation after they developed some growth on their private parts," she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Sithembile Ndebele from Musasa Projects, said the incident was a disgrace to the church and should be condemned.

"If such an incident happened, then that church is a disgrace. The fact that this woman was attended to by a male member, is more worrisome. As Musasa Project we have planned a workshop with various church leaders, especially in the Midlands where we have received a large number of women who are being abused at churches," she said.

Source - Chronicle Newspaper