eSwatini: Two virgins rescued from 'religious slave house'

APA-Mbabane (eSwatini)

Two female virgins who were kept in solitary confinement in a 'religious slave house' in eSwatini for seven years have been rescued by Deputy Prime Minister, Themba Masuku, APA can report Monday.

The mother of Hleziphi Mphaphu (33) and Ncobile Mphaphu (37) said the confinement was as a result of an instruction by a spiritual voice which she said she believed was related to her religion under the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as the Shembe Church deriving from its founder Isaiah Shembe.

“I heard a voice which said I should keep my daughters away from the public as a way of preserving their virginity until they met their rightful partners,” she said during an interview on the day of the rescue early last week.

The scene which was declared unheard of by government, religious and traditional leaders revealed after the authorities of KaShewula, an area in the Lubombo region about 5km from the boundary that separates eSwatini from Mozambique, received a tip from a source.

The DPM was accompanied by the police, social welfare officers and nurses who quickly took the women into an ambulance and later on to the Good Shepherd Hospital where they are still admitted and receiving treatment for malnutrition, counseling and physiotherapy for one of them who has lost her ability to walk due to staying in the house for a long time.

When the women were removed from the house, Ncobile was able to walk while Hleziphi had to be ferried into the ambulance using a stretcher as her feet had literally twisted. 

She also covered her face using her hand as she could not bear the sunlight that hit her, probably after a long time without exposure to the sky.

The authorities KaShewula said they knew the two women were last seen years ago. 

Community Headman Slondokela Mavimbela said they were not aware that the women were kept in a house within their family compound until a neighbor tipped them off, after which they called the police.

The two sisters who are under tight supervision by government social welfare officers declined to have an interview when APA paid them a visit at the hospital on Monday, citing discontent at how the local media has been handling stories about them ever since the news was broken.

Elders of the Shembe Church have paid a visit to the Mphaphu homestead and have also visited the women in hospital; however, they denied that such spiritual instructions were related with their church practices.

Wikipedia states that the Nazareth Baptist Church is the second largest, African initiated church based in South Africa, founded in 1910. 

"It has approximately 3.2 million members. It reveres Shembe as a prophet sent by God to restore the teachings of Moses, the prophets, and Jesus."


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