via Zim parents jailed in UK over baby’s death – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 12, 2015
Nottingham, United Kingdom — An “emaciated” baby died in the United Kingdom after her Zimbabwean parents left her in the care of a churchgoer with “supernatural healing powers” because their extreme religious beliefs banned modern medicine.
Brian Kandare (29) and Precious Kandare (37) have been jailed after admitting the manslaughter of eight-month-old Rebecca, who died from pneumonia in January last year.
She stopped breathing at her parents’ Apostolic Church of God, where a 20-strong congregation held prayers in a converted garage in the back garden of a house.
At the time of her death, Rebecca weighed just 5,24kg.
There was no trace of food or milk in her stomach and she was suffering from the worst case of rickets an expert has seen in his 33-year career, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Her parents had inadequately fed her for months, leaving Rebecca “morbidly thin” as she “wasted away”.
In the weeks and months leading up to her death, the couple repeatedly eschewed the help available to them from the National Health Service in favour of “faith healing, ritual and the power of prayer”, the court was told.
Three days before their daughter died, they then handed over responsibility of her care to a church midwife under the belief that she had “supernatural healing powers”.
Justice Edis jailed Brian for nine-and-a-half years and Precious for eight years.
Prosecuting, Jonas Hankin QC said Rebecca was “significantly underweight and severely malnourished” and that she weighed as much as a three-month-old when she died at the New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton.
He said: “Her illness was treatable and her death was preventable.
“It is highly unlikely that Rebecca would have died if she had been presented for medical care more than 24 hours before she collapsed.”
Their church, the Apostolic Church of God in Wolverhampton, had strict views on modern healthcare with members of the congregation encouraged to speak to the church’s “midwife”, who had no formal qualifications, before seeking further help for medical problems.
Members could also be excluded from certain church activities if they went to a doctor without permission, the court heard.
The Kandares became members of the Apostolic Church of God, based in a house in Nine Elms Lane, Wolverhampton, in 2010, a year after they met at a different church in the West Midlands.
Their church — a form of Pentecostal Protestant Christianity — adheres to a strict interpretation of certain rules, including not allowing modern medicine, instead entrusting followers’ well-being to God.
The court heard the church had a congregation of around 20, with prayers taking place in a converted garage.
Prosecutor Hankin said both male and female members were required to shave their heads, and to attend wearing white clothing.
Women also had to cover their heads with white headscarves.
Hankin said the Kandares’ particular church had become “increasingly strict in the interpretation of religious teachings”, with some members leaving, citing a “hardening of attitudes in the leadership of the church as the main reason”.
“Members of the congregation were undoubtedly encouraged to speak to Constance Machangara, known as the midwife, before seeking medical help, but the choice whether or not to seek medical assistance, ultimately, was theirs and theirs alone.
“If a member of the church seeks any sort of medical treatment or help then they would have to be ‘cleansed’ by the pastors with prayer before being accepted back into the church.”
Hankin said until a member had been “cleansed”, they would not be allowed to start their own songs in the church, and there were extreme examples of people being expelled.
The court heard that in 2011, Brian became a pastor at the church and undertook his role “with gusto”, becoming a “rigourous adherent of its practices and teachings”.
Precious had arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe at the age of 24 and claimed political asylum after opposing President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.