The arrest today of a 26-year-old man within Zimbabwe’s Apostolic Church in Marange over the death of a 15-year-old girl who died trying to give birth at church shrine has exposed horrors of child marriages and the church’s barbaric practices that have been allowed to go on for far too long.

Police said they have arrested Hatirarami Momberume (alias Evans Momberume) on rape charges over after the death of Anna Machaya (not Memory Machaya as initially reported).

Anna, born on 5 July 2006, died on 15 July 2021 trying to give birth. Momberume had illegally married her.

Meanwhile, police have also charged Anna’s parents Edmore Machaya and Shy Mabika for trying to obstruct the course of justice by lying about the age of their late daughter in a bid to protect the man who married the minor and impregnated her, leading to her horrific death during labour.

Anna’s parents had claimed she was born on 2 January 1999, using an ID of her sister who is daughter to her uncle, Ernest Machaya. Edward and Ernest are brothers with daughters named Anna Machaya.

Memory Machaya (22) is alive and married to Lameck Makonye (Sigodla) in Mhondoro.

The attempted cover-up of the scandal shows how parents and church leaders are collaborating in perpetrating child marriages in violation of the law, morality and norms of common decency.

In a landmark judgement in 2016, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court banned marriage for both boys and girls under the age of 18. The age of sexual consent is 16.

But Momberume had been having sex with Anna who was below 16, which is statutory rape; sexual intercourse with a minor. -Newshawks