Cult Leader Ishmael Chokurengerwa Released on Bail Amid Ongoing Investigation

April 28, 2024
Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa 1200x670 1 | Report Focus News
Cult Leader Ishmael Chokurengerwa Released on Bail Amid Ongoing Investigation

Apostolic sect leader Ishmael Chokurengerwa has been released on bail after spending weeks in custody. The High Court granted the controversial figure US$1,000 bail following an appeal against a lower court’s ruling that had denied him bail.

Chokurengerwa’s initial request for bail was rejected by Norton magistrate Christine Nyandoro, who cited the risk of witness interference due to his significant influence within his church. However, after a successful appeal, he is now back at his home, with strict bail conditions in place.

As part of these conditions, Chokurengerwa is prohibited from conducting church gatherings. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said, “The court ruled that there was no longer any risk of interference with witnesses.” He must also remain at his registered address until the conclusion of his case and is required to report to the police three times a week.

Chokurengerwa, along with seven other accomplices, is charged with multiple counts, including violations of the Burial and Cremation Act and the Children’s Act. The charges stem from a police investigation at his Nyabira farm, where authorities found 246 out of 251 children without birth certificates. These children, who were below 18 years old, were allegedly used for various physical activities to benefit the sect’s leadership.

Additionally, the NPA revealed that none of the children of school-going age attended formal education, and they were subjected to work as cheap labor under the guise of learning life skills. Furthermore, 16 unregistered graves were discovered at Chokurengerwa’s shrine, Canaan. The graves included nine adults and seven infants, all buried without proper registration or burial orders, violating the country’s burial laws.

The police suspect that Chokurengerwa was running his church like a commune, isolating his followers from the outside world and promoting the belief that the end of the world was near. Members were allegedly prohibited from seeking medical attention or formal education.

Authorities continue to investigate Chokurengerwa’s sect, with exhumations of two bodies already conducted to gather further evidence. The case remains ongoing as the court prepares for the trial.