Bishop Locks Son Away For Two Years
A shocking case of abuse has been unearthed in Chimanimani where a local church bishop hid his paraplegic son in a locked room for two years, while also denying him basic necessities like food, water, clothing and medical care.
Joseph Nemaramba (21) was found in a deplorable state — malnourished, dirty and with wounds all over his body — in a room that he was kept captive by his father, Namatai Nemaramba.
Namatai is a bishop under the Zion Sabbath Christian Church. When Joseph was rescued by the community, led by Acting Chief Saurombe, he could neither talk nor walk.
His limbs were crooked and he looked like he had been starved for years. In an interview, Joseph’s aunt, Mrs Susan Mukocheya Nemaramba said she last saw her nephew years ago.
She said the family assumed that Joseph had died and was secretly buried. Joseph, the aunt said, was doing Form Two when he became bedridden and disappeared from the public.
“He went to school with my son years ago and then shockingly became paraplegic. From then onwards, he was kept indoors. He stopped talking. He was not allowed to have visitors or enjoy fresh air.
“Over the years I would ask my grandson about Joseph’s whereabouts. I was told that Joseph was now staying in Harare, but also concluded that he might have died and was buried secretly.
“I am actually the one who tipped off Acting Chief Saurombe about the issue because one of Namatai’s daughters accused me of bewitching her brother,” said Mrs Mukocheya Nemaramba.
Upon his rescue from his father’s captivity, Joseph was taken to Biriiri Mission Hospital before being transferred to Mutambara Mission Hospital where he received physiotherapy medical care and psychological counselling. Joseph’s condition has since improved as he now conversing with doctors and learning to walk.
“I still have chest pains, but I am now feeling better. I am now learning to walk at the physiotherapy ward,” he said with a smile. In an interview, Acting Chief Saurombe, Mr Raymond Saurombe, said he rescued Joseph after receiving a tip-off while he was live on Chimanimani FM.
After the show, he teamed up with other villagers and approached the Nemaramba family, which is under Chief Mutambara’s area, and demanded to see Joseph. “As we tried to open the door to the room where Joseph was locked, we heard his cries and whimpers. This was after his father and siblings had vehemently denied that Joseph was locked in one of the rooms.
“We threatened to break the door and that is when they unlocked it. We were shocked with the horrific conditions he was living in. Joseph was malnourished and dirty. He had bruises and scars all over his body,” said Acting Chief Saurombe. Nemaramba was later summoned to Acting Chief Saurombe’s court where he confessed holding his son captive for two years.
He allegedly confessed causing his son’s illness. He said he believed that keeping him locked up and denying him access to the outside world would enhance his spiritually powers and woo more church members.
Nemaramba later surrendered his church items which included woollen belts. He said he used the items in the rituals that caused Joseph’s condition. However, he later shifted goalposts and alleged that he made the confession under duress.
Acting Chief Saurombe said the horrific and inhumane act deserves the strongest condemnation from all sections of the society. “No child should be made to suffer such abuse and neglect at the hands of their own parents, especially someone who claims to be a man of God.
‘‘He confessed to his wrong doings and on Sunday we are teaming up with traditional healers to go to his homestead to retrieve his other tools of the trade,” said Acting Chief Saurombe.
Village Head, Stephany Nemaramba who is Namatai’s brother, said they thought Joseph was either dead or staying with his siblings in Harare. He said as a family, they are yet to come to terms with the way in which Namatai treated his son.
“Over the years, when we asked some of the church pastors why they were not conducting prayers for Joseph, they professed ignorance over the issue. This is despite having endless prayer sessions at the homestead.
‘‘The room in which Joseph was kept captive was always locked,” said Village Head Nemaramba. The ZSCC sect members also expressed shock at their bishop’s stone-heartedness and offered support and prayers for Joseph’s recovery.
A pastor, Mr Edwin Mukuche said it was shocking that their leader had locked up Joseph inside the house for two years. “Joseph is recovering well. His condition could have been much better if he had been exposed to proper medical care early. ‘‘It is disheartening to know that someone that we respected and acted as our spiritual father would abuse his own child like this.
“He is not worth being a leader and should step down from the bishop’s position. It is clear that he was using his son for rituals to increase his flock. We feel cheated and betrayed,” said Mr Mukuche.
The matter was reported to the police who referred Joseph to Mutambara Mission Hospital. However, Namatai has not been arrested. Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Norbert Muzondo said they are yet to receive the report.
Acting Chief Saurombe adjourned the matter to this Sunday