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Pastors arrested in Zimbabwe for giving sweets to children

ICC Note

The officials of government of Zimbabwe is intimidating Christians by arresting their leaders.

By Michael Ireland

Thursday, June 14, 2007 ZIMBABWE (ANS) — Following a warning last month from President Robert Mugabe telling church leaders to steer clear of politics after Catholic bishops denounced the Zimbabwean government over its human rights record, three pastors were arrested in Masvingo, Zimbabwe by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) for distributing toys and sweets to children.

Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya, Pastor Peter Bondai and Pastor Mugondi were the clergymen detained and interrogated by state security agents for distributing playing and eating materials to the children on Sunday, June 10, according to Salem Voice Ministries News Service.

SVM says that in a bizarre case highlighting deep levels of paranoia in government, the agents of the Central Intelligence Organization accused the pastors that they distributed campaign material of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is Zimbabwe ‘s biggest opposition party.

Pastor Peter Bondai and Mugondi were released after they were interrogated for more than three hours while Pastor Chimbuya was kidnapped and dumped along the Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe highway hours after his arrest, SVM reported.

“We are living in constant fear after the harassment at the hands of the CIO agents,” Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya said to Paul Ciniraj, the Director of the Salem Voice Ministries (SVM) News Service by telephone.

“They just came to us and picked us one after the other. They asked us about the material we were distributing to various church organizations,” said the churchmen.

“One of us was kidnapped and was only released after they had proved beyond doubt that the items we were distributing were in fact toys,” the clergymen added.

SVM said the CIO agents also demanded that the pastors write down their sermons and present them to the secret agents for vetting before delivery.

SVM explained that State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for comment on the matter.