Zim cops raid cult, take away starving kids

Harare, Zimbabwe - Police in southern Zimbabwe have raided members of a cult who were living in the wild and refusing to eat until Jesus Christ came, it was reported on Wednesday.

Police on Saturday took seven children who were severely malnourished away from the cults camp and placed them in the homes of Christian pastors in Bulawayos Luveve suburb, said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

Thirteen members of the cult, believed to be an offshoot of the popular Seventh Day Adventist Church, were also picked up and questioned by police, the report said. The cult members who would only give their first names were described as frail.

Some of the cult members were reportedly sweating profusely and coughing uncontrollably, said the newspaper.

They had been camped in a bushy area beyond Bulawayos Pumula South suburb, worrying nearby homeowners.

We picked them up after receiving complaints from Pumula residents who were not sure of the cults motives. The residents were afraid they could end up committing various crimes in the neighbourhood, said police spokesperson Langa Ndlovu.

The policeman added that the group was also removed for their own safety as they were frail, possibly due to starvation.

The cult members were told to go home, but police are doubtful they will obey.

Churches and sects have been gaining in popularity in Zimbabwe, where economic and social problems are biting hard. There has been widespread concern over the advertisements for so-called miracle crusades, where attendees are promised prosperity and healing from diseases.