A fight erupted at Mugodhi Apostolic Faith Church headquarters in Wedza, Mashonaland East on Friday as the battle for the control of the sect rages on.
The sect has been embroiled in bitter wars following the death of leader and founder Thadeu Mugodhi in 2019.
In 2019, one Tonny Sigauke who claimed to be the rightful heir, according to the church constitution, dragged the late Mugodhi’s son Washington to court for clinging on to the throne.
Sigauke also filed another application stating that Aaron Munodawafa was the substantive bishop of the church with him as the deputy.
In September, 2021, High Court judge Justice Esther Muremba ruled Sigauke does not have authority to represent the church while Washington’s appointment was declared null and void.
Since then, the fight for the control of the church between Washington and Munodawafa has been raging.
On Friday, church members wielding, iron bars and stones clashed as they sought to take control of the shrine for the annual passover service.
Both camps were recently given access to the church buildings pending a court outcome on the legitimate leader of the shrine.
The spokesperson of Munodawafa camp, Reverend Mike Mukarati said the fight started after they were denied access to the church building to conduct morning prayers.
“We gathered together as a group and moved to enter the building.
“They hired hooligans, some with dreadlocks calling themselves security from Washington’s camp and denied us access.
“Suddenly, they started throwing stones, sharp objects, and logs into a crowded congregation injuring more than 20, some seriously.
“We retreated when we realised there were bound to be fatalities.
“Police arrived 30 minutes later and statements were taken and the injured were rushed to St Mary’s hospital in Wedza.”
Mugodhi and Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson Simon Chazovachi were not available for comment yesterday.
A few months ago, violent clashes occurred at the same shrine during a gathering known as Synod resulting in malicious damage to property including the church building.
More than 15 congregants were arrested and charged with assault among other charges.
Washington had brought bouncers to block the Munodawafa faction, but they were overpowered by the congregants who went on a rampage destroying church property.
The bouncers had their hands tied and assaulted before police were called to quell the violence.
The factions are both claiming total control of the perceived holy ground.