Zimbabwe: Four 'Prophets' Arrested Over Drowning

Harare, Zimbabwe - Police in Victoria Falls have arrested four prophets from a local Apostolic church for allegedly causing the drowning of a Chinotimba man in a cleansing ceremony that turned fatal in front of his family.

Police confirmed the incident, which they said happened on Sunday at about 5pm at Masue River just outside the resort town along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo road. The name of the deceased has been withheld as police investigations continue while the prophets, including the church leader, were in custody helping with investigations.

According to sources privy to the drowning, the deceased, who had been ill for some time, was taken to the river after the "holy spirit" told the church leader that he needed cleansing from evil spirits that were causing his endless illness.

"After falling ill in February this year, he approached a prophet from this church who prayed for him. After the prayer sessions, the prophet told him that he needed to be cleansed from demons and the only way was through water baptism in the river they call Jordan," said one of the church members who was at the scene.

The source said the deceased agreed to be baptised and a date was set.

"Yesterday (Sunday), the prophets came to his home where they prayed before making a trip to the river in the company of his family including his wife and brother.

"At the river, the prophets helped him to get into the water, which was chest-high. "Three of them then held him together, dipping him about seven times after which he started resisting, maybe indicating that he was suffocating," he said. The source said the leader then instructed the now deceased to kneel in the water but he could not as the water level was high.