By Marie Taruvinga
EIGHT prophets of the apostolic sect Vadzidzi vaJeso reportedly drowned in the Mazowe River in Rushinga on Saturday as they attempted to retrieve a sacred staff from deep water in a ritual to select a new Baptist.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Development Coordinator Timothy Tigere confirmed the incident.
Only three of the prophets survived. The deceased have not yet been identified.
Police spokesman Deputy Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was not yet in a position to comment.
However, Tigere said the provincial civil protection unit was mobilizing resources to purchase coffins, fuel and food to help bereaved families.
He added that the leader of the apostolic sect Vadzidzi vaJeso was on a mission to select a Baptist from among the gathered prophets and threw a rod into the river before informing the prophets that whoever succeeded in retrieving him would become the new Baptist.
Eleven of the prophets jumped into the river and eight drowned.
One witness to the sad development said: “Saturday was our last day to meet in church and traditionally we baptize ourselves before Passover Sunday.
“We went to the river and around 10 am and stood in formation as is our standard when we pray. The prophets stood in front and we began to sing.
“The prophets fell into a trance and jumped into the river and drowned. The case was reported to the police and the bodies were taken to the morgue at Chimhanda Clinic.