CONTROVERSIAL Leader of the Johanne Masowe Penyera Nyika, Madzibaba Ishmael, real name Ishmael Chokurongerwa, has been slapped with fresh charges and when he appeared again at the Norton Magistrates’ Court.

Chokurongerwa (54) was arrested several weeks ago together with other seven members of his sect. They were charged with violating the Burial and Children’s Act, respectively.

He is now facing five counts of “having sexual intercourse with a minor”. Prosecutors allege that Chokurongerwa engaged in sexual relations with 5 minors between 2018 and 2024. These are

a) 15-year-old, resulting in the birth of an infant

b) 13-year-old, resulting in the birth of 1 infant

c) 14-year-old with whom he now has two children

d) 15-year-old with whom he has a child

e) 16-year-old, resulting in the birth of another infant.

Chokurongerwa was last week granted bail by the High Court after spending almost two months in remand prison on previous charges.

The Court ruled that there was no longer any risk that Madzibaba Ishmael would interfere with witnesses, hence the decision to grant him bail.

Apart from an order to deposit US$ 1,000 with the clerk of court Norton Magistrstes’ Court, the High Court also barred Chokurongerwa from conducting any church gatherings anywhere until the matter is finalised.

He was also ordered not to interfere with witnesses directly or indirectly until the matter is finalised and to report to the police three times a week.

Chokurongerwa’s co-accused; Shingirai Ngawafune (42), Takavengwa Gwenzi (55), Zebedia Sigudu (49), Devlodge Katsande (47), Wonder Kabaya (41), and Siribinio Chikurunhe (53) were granted bail early this month by the Harare High Court.

The trial for all eight individuals will commence on May 7, 2024, at the Norton Magistrates’ Court.

The State alleges that Chokurongerwa and his associates conducted funeral services for Hazel Chikunhire and Winlet Kabaya without obtaining proper burial orders for the deceased.

Furthermore, the sect leaders, who acted as guardians for the children residing at the church’s compound in Nyabira, are accused of neglecting, abandoning, and exposing the children to conditions likely to cause unnecessary suffering