Tanzania: Sick Woman Dies After Six Day Fast

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - The Tororo Chief Magistrate's Court on Friday remanded a pastor to Morukatipe Prison on charges of starving a sick woman to death in the name of fasting and praying to get a healing.

Jane Asyepet reportedly died on July 2 in the house of Pastor Jomo Oyoo Obotho of the Apostles of Jesus Church in Gwara-Gwara Parish in Kisoko Sub-county in West Budama.

Asyepet was reportedly lured for prayers by the pastor with the hope that she would recover from her ailments through intensive prayers.

Tororo District Police Commander Gaudencio Okumu told The Citizen, that Pastor Oyoo starved Asyepet to death claiming that only prayers without eating or seeking medical attention would heal her.

"After she had died, he carried her body along with her photograph and dumped it at her house in Agururu in Tororo Municipality without informing any of her relatives or church colleagues,"Mr Okumu said. The Apostles of Jesus Church is said to be believing in only prayers and fasting by the sick to get a healing.

Pastor Oyoo uses his house as the church. Interestingly, the church has only two members - Oyoo and his cousin, Oloo Oketcho Obotha, who is now on the run.

Mr Okumu said that Pastor Oyoo kept Asyepet in his house from June 27 to July 2 when she died, purportedly praying and fasting to get healed.

Asyepet's relatives on Wednesday jammed Tororo Central Police Station demanding to have a glimpse of Pastor Oyoo. But Mr Okumu said the Police could not risk producing him for fear that they would lynch him.

"We only wanted to have a glance of him so as to know how he looks like,"Mr Francis Okiror, a nephew of the deceased, told The Citizen.

Mr Okumu said because the postmortem had established that Asyepet died of hunger, the Police preferred Rush and Negligence charge against Pastor Oyoo.

Pastor Oyoo however, denied the charges. In interview with The Citizen after he was remanded, he said he never starved the deceased to death.

He said that Asyepet died of her severe ailments. He also said he always had food for his family and patients to feed on during prayer time.

The pastor said he did not lure Asypet for prayer but that she looked for him to pray for her after learning that in their church they pray for patients for free.

"She told us that in the church where she had been, they ask for money before praying for the sick. But for us we do not charge anything," said Pastor Oyoo.

The Cititizen could not establish the church where Asyepet belonged before she went to seek healings from Pastor Oyoo. "My wife, a mother of four, always prepares food for our patients. I even had sugar and our patient was taking tea regularly. Only that when one is sick, he or she does not have much appetite for food," Pastor Oyoo said.

Asked why he dumped the body at the deceased's door at night, Pastor Oyoo said he feared her relatives would lynch him if he brought it during day.

Tororo District CID officer David Wamunyerere, told The Citizen that police were hunting for Oketcho Obotha.

Meanwhile a Court in Kamwenge District has sentenced a pastor to 48 months in jail after it found that the pastor stole USh90,000 from a parishioner in the district.

The Court, presided over by Kamwenge Grade 1 Magistrate, John Kategaya, on Friday heard that Pastor Vicent Wamala, who heads Zigote Miracle Centre in Mityana District, was visiting New Life Church in Kamwenge when he committed the offence.

Prosecution further convinced court that while praying at New Life Church on Kabuga Road on June 21, Pastor Wamala spotted a bag belonging to Ms Teddy Karungyi with whom they were seated together. The bag contained USh90,000 and a mobile phone.

Court heard that when the presiding pastor asked the congregation to close their eyes for a healing prayer, Pastor Wamala used the opportunity and took off with the woman's bag.

The flock mounted a hunt and later found the bag which was now empty in the urinals. They later mounted a thorough search for Pastor Wamala until they arrested him.

Reported by John Augustine Emojong, Tororo and Mariam Kabasongora, Kamwenge