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Zimbabwe. The religious sect hid more than 40 children's graves under tomato and potato beds

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A religious sect in western Zimbabwe hid dozens of children's graves under flower beds. The macabre discovery was made by medical services after verifying reports of ongoing cholera, mumps and measles epidemics in the region. “Every morning, the villagers saw new vegetable gardens and green flower beds, unaware that under the fertile soil there was another dead child who had been denied medical attention,” said Celestino Dhege, head of the province's medical services.

Families belonging to the apostolic community in Hurungwe (Western Mashona province) in western Zimbabwe secretly buried over 40 children and turned the graves into patches of sweet potatoes and tomatoes to cover up the traces, said Celestino Dhege, head of the province's medical services.

Zimbabwe's medical services discovered the hidden burials when they reported that there had been an epidemic of cholera, mumps and measles in the region for some time. Neighbors of families belonging to a religious sect pointed out that their children were losing playmates every day.

“Every morning they saw new vegetable gardens, unaware that there was another dead child beneath the soil.”

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Within a few days, five children aged 1.5 to 12 disappeared from one household. Back in May, when the first cases of the epidemic appeared, a family lost seven children without informing anyone.

“The villagers saw new vegetable gardens and greening beds every morning, unaware that beneath the fertile soil lay another dead child who had been denied medical attention,” Dr. Dhege said during a meeting with provincial authorities in Chinhoyi last week.

They kept sick children at home. When they died, they buried them at night

An investigation by the provincial medical chief found that some members of apostolic communities kept their sick children at home, denying them access to medical care. When they died, they secretly buried them at night and immediately planted tomatoes or sweet potatoes on their graves.

– For them, the death of a child is not as significant as we think. They refuse vaccinations and treatment, and expel those who oppose them from the community. Recently, a 23-year-old mother was abandoned by her husband, disowned by her parents and thrown out of the church by the community because she sought medical help for her dying nine-year-old child, Dhege said.

Local authorities have called on lawmakers to pass laws to protect children from parents who shun modern medicine. “It is high time to take punitive measures to deter potential criminals and protect children,” Dhege said.

Main photo source: Tawanda Kapikinyu/Shutterstock



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