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Condemn Killing of children “in the strongest terms possible”: Catholic Leader in Zimbabwe

Logo of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Zimbabwe/ Credit: CCJP Zimbabwe

The Diocesan Coordinator of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo Diocese has denounced the killing of children in the country and called on the people of God in the Southern African nation to condemn the criminal acts “in the strongest terms possible.”

“The killing of children must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. I think the government must enact a law or amend existing ones so that offenders are punished heavily and potential offenders are deterred by the stiff punishment attached to such murders,” Simon Parwaringira has been quoted as saying.

In the Monday, May 24 report published by Catholic Church News Zimbabwe, Mr. Parwaringira urges Church leaders in the country to “enact child safeguarding measures that protect the interests of children from such kind of abuse and to raise awareness on the importance of protecting children.” 

Cases of murder have long term effects on children including fear, he says, and adds, “Being socialized in an environment of fear does not only affect them psychologically but can affect even their conduct and behavior in the community thereby leading to a culture of perpetual violence.”

“The immediate effect however is that some children might feel unsafe and drop out of school,” says Mr. Parwaringira in the report published under the title, “Who shall save the children from ritual sacrifices?”

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Zimbabwe has been experiencing an upsurge in cases of child abuse and murder in recent months. 

In his address during the May 21 National Cultural Commemoration Day, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa condemned the killings, which seem to be ritualistic saying that such criminal acts have no place in the Southern African landlocked nation. 

President Mnangagwa added that the State values human life, unity, peace and tolerance, describing these as values that are essential for national development. 

In the May 24 report authored by Br. Alfonce Kugwa, Mr. Parwaringira says that “the rate at which the murders are occurring may also suggest that there is an increase in the percentage of people who are facing economic difficulties and with limited opportunities.”

“There seems to be a belief that performing rituals can improve one’s economic status particularly in our African context,” he further says. 

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In the reported, the Education Secretary for Mutare Diocese, Lawrence Chibvuri, echoes Mr. Parwaringira’s viewpoint saying, “Ritual murders are strongly embedded in a ‘get rich quick’ mentality backed up by black magic.” 

Mr. Chibvuri further says that children are easily lured by murderers because of their trust in adults and the inability to defend themselves.

The Education Secretary in Mutare Diocese calls on the leadership of the Church to come up with policies that protect children.’

“Child protection issues and strategies must be discussed and implemented from the Parish and Small Christian Communities and coordinated by appointed child-safeguarding officers,” Mr. Chibvuri says, adding, “Child safeguarding committees must be set up at all levels.”

He goes on to call on the government “to take issues of child murders seriously and consider it as a matter for discussion in Parliament and Cabinet.”

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The Education Secretary also challenges those at the helm of Education in Zimbabwe “to promulgate a policy compelling parents to escort learners to and from school.”

Cases of murder “must be dealt with thoroughly and communities should be informed about when and how they are concluded so as to instill confidence in the people,” Mr. Chibvuri is quoted as saying in the Catholic Church News Zimbabwe report.