THE Marondera District COVID-19 taskforce on Wednesday besieged a Johane Marange apostolic shrine before destroying the tents and ordering the inhabitants to return to their homes.
The shrine, belonging to Ezekiel Chikoto (35), is situated in the Masomera area, about 25km from Marondera Town.
The taskforce destroyed 43 tents before ordering those who were at the shrine, including expecting mothers to leave.
There were about 110 people at the shrine with 66 of them being the family of the sect leader.
Chikoto has 30 wives and 23 children.
Addressing the sect members during the raid, Marondera District
Development Coordinator (DDC) Clemence Masawi, who is the chairperson of the taskforce said those being evicted can only return after the pandemic.
“We are here because of this pandemic and we are saying, go back to your homes. We will only allow the family to remain. Those remaining here are advised to practice social distancing among other hygienic rules. Once the pandemic is over, those who need spiritual assistance will always come back,” said Masawi.
The demolitions were effected with the assistance of the police.
Mashonaland East Province has recorded five COVID-19 cases with four victims already recovered.
Apostolic sects are traditionally known for shunning modern health practices.