SHAMED PAS­TOR ‘DROVE MOTHER TO KILL HER SON’

As preacher is found guilty of abuse, vic­tim’s dev­as­tat­ing claim:

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Vic­to­ria Allen and Rachel Wat­son

A FLAM­BOY­ANT cult leader who sex­u­ally abused his fol­low­ers was last night ac­cused of driv­ing one vul­ner­a­ble wor­ship­per to kill her own son. Zim­bab­wean Wal­ter Masocha, 51, set up his own church in Stir­ling, ap­point­ing him­self as ‘the prophet’ and as­sum­ing con­trol over t hou­sands of wor­ship­pers.

he faces jail af­ter be­ing con­victed of sex­u­ally abus­ing two of his fe­male fol­low­ers.

But one of the vic­tims, mother-of-four Jean Gasho, last night said she be­lieves Masocha is also re­spon­si­ble for the death of five-year-old Scott Chiris­eri, who was stabbed and hor­rif­i­cally mu­ti­lated by his mother Farai, who had be­lieved she was on a ‘spe­cial mission from God’.

Miss Gasho re­vealed how Masocha ac­cused the trou­bled mother of be­ing pos­sessed by the devil af­ter she de­cided to leave his Agape For All Na­tions Min­istries In­ter­na­tional church, and then de­lib­er­ately broke up her mar­riage to hus­band Tichakunda.

She said: ‘he said she had the devil in­side her. he gave Tichakunda to an­other woman mem­ber.

‘Farai is left com­pletely on her own, and watches an­other woman take over her hus­band. Farai is de­monised by Wal­ter Masocha and church mem­bers. She ob­vi­ously gets

se­ri­ously de­pressed, there is no help out there for her.

‘Right now Agape are at­tack­ing Farai, call­ing her mad and an evil woman. But I don’t see her that way. I don’t con­done what she did but I see her as a woman who has trag­i­cally lost her beloved son.

‘My opin­ion still stands to­day – was it not for Agape For All Na­tions Min­istries In­ter­na­tional, I be­lieve lit­tle Scott Chiris­eri would still be here to­day.’

Yes­ter­day, the preacher, a for­mer uni­ver­sity lec­turer who con­vinced fe­male wor­ship­pers his hugs were ‘anointed’, was found guilty by ma­jor­ity of sex­ual abuse.

His name will be added to the sex of­fend­ers’ reg­is­ter and he faces a po­ten­tial pri­son sen­tence.

It is un­der­stood there are other vic­tims who may now come for­ward fol­low­ing the guilty ver­dict.

Dur­ing a dra­matic six-day trial, the court heard how Masocha, a mar­ried fa­ther of two, used the threat of de­monic pos­ses­sion to prey on a young girl i n his con­gre­ga­tion.

His 15- year- old vic­tim was mo­lested in late 2013 in a games r oom at Masocha’s s evenbed­room home in Stir­ling.

She said: ‘He waved me over. He placed his hand round my lower back and moved his hand down un­til he got to my un­der­wear, and he sort of pinged my un­der­wear.

‘ He re­peat­edly pinged my un­der­wear, ran his hand down my bot­tom and grabbed and pinched my bot­tom.’

The sec­ondary school pupil, who is now 16 but can­not be named for legal rea­sons, ques­tioned Masocha on why he had done it.

He claimed he had seen ‘demons and things that shouldn’t be there’ in her un­der­wear and was clear­ing them away.

She said: ‘I just broke into tears be­cause I thought I had been do­ing things wrong with­out re­al­is­ing. I felt like I had been bad.’

In an­other in­ci­dent, when she was 13 or 14, the Stir­ling­shire teenager said Masocha had been giv­ing her ad­vice about school, when he sud­denly said, ‘You’ll al­ways be mine’, and kissed her on the lips.

Taught that ev­ery­thing Masocha did was a bless­ing from God, she was happy but said she now feels dis­gusted.

Masocha started Agape in 2008 af­ter re­ceiv­ing a ‘di­vine visi­ta­tion’ and is said by for­mer mem­bers to have seized con­trol over their lives.

Masocha, who de­manded con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers pay 10 per cent of their earn­ings ev­ery month to his church, drove a Jaguar, owns three prop­er­ties and lives in a three-storey man­sion in Sauchiebur­n, Stir­ling.

The con­verted wa­ter tower was re­port­edly once on sale for £1mil­lion, although he bought it af­ter it was re­pos­sessed for just un­der £380,000.

A f ormer trea­surer of the church, who asked not to be named, said he made around £10,000 a month from con­gre­ga­tion dona­tions, de­spite his claims in court to earn be­tween £30,000 and £40,000 a year.

For­mer church mem­ber Miss Gasho said de­vout fol­low­ers were con­vinced even Masocha’s sweat was ‘ holy anoint­ing oil’ and bought him up to £ 1,000 of gro­ceries ev­ery month, while strug­gling to feed their own fam­i­lies.

The 32-year-old for­mer dea­coness, whose brav­ery in com­ing for­ward brought Masocha to jus­tice, told Falkirk Sher­iff Court he groped her af­ter claim­ing he was pray­ing for her to re­cover from a stom­ach com­plaint.

The court heard on one oc­ca­sion in 2012 he hugged her ‘very in­ti­mately’, ca­ress­ing her back and kiss­ing her around her neck.

Miss Gasho, who was mar­ried, said: ‘I felt con­fused, I felt vi­o­lated. He was say­ing, “re­ceive my love”. At one point I felt his man­hood against me.’

On an­other oc­ca­sion, she went to his of­fice in Melville Ter­race, Stir­ling, with a stom­ach com­plaint. She said: ‘He said he was go­ing to pray it away. He touched my tummy, then his hand went down my body, onto my pri­vate parts.’

Sob­bing, she said: ‘It was like he was feel­ing me. I was so shocked.

‘At that time I saw him as some­body who could never do any wrong be­cause that was what he used to teach us.’

The trained men­tal health nurse was told she was pos­sessed while at the church and sub­jected to a vi­o­lent eight-hour ex­or­cism.

Af­ter flee­ing the church and her mar­riage, she de­scribed Agape as a ‘cult’ and has writ­ten a blog, called ‘He was my “daddy”’ about the abuse she suf­fered at Masocha’s hands.

Last night, she wrote on a so­cial me­dia web­site: ‘I am a win­ner! A fighter! My God is a God of jus­tice!’

A jury of seven men and seven women took less than 30 min­utes to find Masocha guilty by a ma­jor­ity of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing Miss Gasho and sex­u­ally touch­ing the girl aged 15.

Masocha, wear­ing a hand­made suit with vel­vet col­lar, stood blank-faced as the ver­dict was an­nounced and re­fused to com­ment af­ter the trial.

His wife Ju­dith, who is known as the ‘prophet­ess’ within the church, ap­peared to dab her f ace with a tis­sue.

Sher­iff Ken­neth McGowan will sen­tence the cult leader on May 19, fol­low­ing an as­sess­ment of the risk he poses to other women and girls.

He was cleared of two fur­ther charges. How­ever, it is un­der­stood more women have made ac­cu­sa­tions.

Muz­vare Betty Makoni, a Zim­bab­wean women’s ac­tivist in­volved in the case, said: ‘This is the tip of the ice­berg. There are many more women abused by this man who I know won’t come out, out of shame and em­bar­rass­ment.

‘But sto­ries com­ing out in the com­mu­nity show that a lot of women may have fallen vic­tim and there must be a way to help them come for­ward.’

Ear­lier this month, Farai Chiris­eri, 32, was ac­quit­ted and sent to a medium- se­cu­rity psy­chi­atric unit, the Or­chard Clinic in Ed­in­burgh, for treat­ment af­ter the Crown ac­cepted a spe­cial de­fence that she was un­able to ‘ap­pre­ci­ate the na­ture and wrong­ful­ness’ of her son’s death.

A con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist, Dr John Crich­ton, told the court she suf­fered from ‘schizophre­ni­form psy­chotic ill­ness’, con­sist­ing of delu­sions and hal­lu­ci­na­tions, and her con­ver­sa­tions were of ‘ ab­nor­mal re­li­gious con­tent’.

He said she needed su­per­vi­sion for the ‘fore­see­able fu­ture’. TO his de­voted flock he was more than a mere bringer of the mes­sage of God. Wal­ter Masocha was prac­ti­cally a de­ity him­self.

When he walked to his pul­pit, he trod over a car­pet of his wor­ship­pers’ jack­ets. When he de­liv­ered his ser­mon, a team of mop­pers at­tended to the sweat on his brow.

And when the ser­mon was over, the soiled hand­ker­chiefs be­came prized sou­venirs at the Agape For All Na­tions Church. Con­gre­gants be­lieved t hey were im­bued with holy anointed oil. The con­clu­sion of a court case in Falkirk casts a very dif­fer­ent light on 51-year-old Masocha, the Zim­babwe-born preacher who liked to be called Daddy. This was no prophet; he was a con­fi­dence trick­ster us­ing his so- called holy sta­tus to ex­ploit im­pres­sion­able church mem­bers for his own sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion and fi­nan­cial profit.

Most of those who have left the church now re­alise they had bought into a re­li­gious cult – one with lit­tle ap­par­ent pur­pose but to serve the de­praved ends of its leader. Those who are still part of it, sadly, may re­main in de­nial for much longer.

But a Mail in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found Masocha’s ma­lig­nant in­flu­ence on his church mem­bers in Cen­tral Scot­land ex­tended much fur­ther than the two sex­ual of­fences a jury found him guilty of com­mit­ting yes­ter­day.

Most dis­turbingly, he is said to have played a key part in the cir­cum­stances lead­ing to the hor­rific death of five-year- old Scott Chiris­eri last year.

Scott was stabbed to death and then hor­ri­bly mu­ti­lated by his mother Farai, 32, at their home in Alva, Clack­man­nan­shire, in De­cem­ber. She be­lieved she was on a ‘spe­cial mission from God’.

She was charged with mur­der but later ac­quit­ted af­ter a judge ac­cepted she was suf­fer­ing from a men­tal dis­or­der at the time of the killing.

Yes­ter­day, one of Masocha’s vic­tims, Jean Gasho, claimed the lit­tle boy’s mother had been ‘de­monised’ by Masocha for leav­ing his church.

Miss Gasho also said the mother was left with­out a hus­band af­ter Masocha paired the boy’s fa­ther, Tichakunda, off with an­other woman church mem­ber.

Match-mak­ing among his flock, for­mer mem­bers claim, was one of Masocha’s favourite pas­times. It en­sured mem­bers re­mained in the church and that fam­i­lies grew up un­der his lead­er­ship.

The 32-year-old for­mer dea­coness, who was sex­u­ally as­saulted by the cult leader, said: ‘Ev­ery­one who left the church was said by him [Masocha] to be men­tally un­sta­ble, a witch, pos­sessed. ‘She [Mrs Chiris­eri] left the church and, as with many cou­ples where only one per­son went to the church, he would say to her hus­band you need to cut this per­son off.

‘He said she had the devil in­side her. He gave Tichakunda to an­other woman mem­ber. We knew they were to­gether, ev­ery-

‘I felt con­fused. I felt vi­o­lated’ ‘She had the devil in­side her’

one in the church, and they used to drive to the church to­gether.’

The Chiris­eris, orig­i­nally from Zim­babwe, are un­der­stood to have been in­tro­duced to Agape by Tichakunda’s brother. For­mer mem­bers said the cou­ple had been hap­pily mar­ried, but Agape drove a wedge be­tween them.

For­mer church mem­ber Miss Gasho said: ‘Farai is left com­pletely on her own, and watches an­other woman … take over her hus­band. Farai is de­monised by Wal­ter Masocha and Agape church mem­bers. She ob­vi­ously gets se­verely de­pressed. There is no help for her out there.

‘Right now Agape are at­tack­ing Farai, call­ing her mad and an evil woman. But I don’t see her that way. I don’t con­done what she did but I see her as a woman who has trag­i­cally lost her beloved son.’

She added: ‘My opin­ion still stands to­day – was it not for Agape For All Na­tions Min­istries In­ter­na­tional I be­lieve lit­tle Scott Chiris­eri would still be here to­day.’

It was al­most a decade ago, while living in Bridge of Al­lan, Stir­ling­shire, that Masocha be­came known as an ec­cen­tric re­li­gious leader.

He was lec­tur­ing in ac­coun­tancy at Stir­ling Uni­ver­sity by day and, i n the evenings, preach­ing to mem­bers of a sect called For­ward in Faith. At the time, neigh­bours viewed him more as an ir­ri­tant than a sin­is­ter pres­ence.

For­mer neigh­bour Bill Mills, who tried to have an Asbo served on Masocha, said: ‘I am just a lay­man but I am sure I saw an ex­or­cism. I came out of my house one day and found a man ly­ing on my lawn.

‘There were four or five oth­ers stand­ing round him and they seemed to be chant­ing. I asked them what they were do­ing and they just said, “Oh, he does this all the time”.

‘I said, “Well, you can’t do it on my lawn”.’

Masocha claimed the in­ci­dent hap­pened when a vi si t or be­came un­well and fell into the next door gar­den.

By 2008, t he preacher’s in­volve­ment with that or­gani- sa­tion had reached an abrupt end. It was dur­ing prayer, he said, that a new way for­ward re­vealed it­self. He saw rain­bows and heard a voice telling him to start Agape church in Stir­ling.

It is un­clear whether the fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments for the new out­fit also came to him in prayer but they cer­tainly served his ex­pen­sive tastes ad­mirably.

His and his wife Ju­dith’s in­comes would come from tithi ng, with mem­bers pay­ing 10 per cent of their salaries to the church. The greater the membership, the greater the in­come.

Over the past seven years, the church, which owns no build­ings of its own and is reg­is­tered as a char­ity, has en­listed more than 2,000 mem­bers across the UK, US, Canada and Africa. That would go some way, per­haps, to ex­plain­ing the sev­enbed­room man­sion near Stir­ling where Masocha and his wife, known as the Prophet­ess, now live – and the fleet of flash cars in the drive.

For­mer mem­bers say they had to foot the bill when their leader flew to as­sem­blies around the world, stay­ing in f i ve- star ac­com­mo­da­tion. Sim­i­larly, when the ‘Prophet’ was called upon to marry mem­bers of his flock, a tai­lor-made suit was pur­chased for him to wear and his ho­tel bill was paid. If there was any fly­ing in­volved, first class tick­ets were re­quired.

To those out­side the cult, it is not hard to see Masocha’s be­hav­iour as that of a cyn­i­cal, ma­nip­u­la­tive and greedy man. To those in­side, it seemed he could do no wrong.

Con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers who went t o Masocha’s house in­stinc­tively waited on him like ser­vants or did his house­work.

In church, mean­while, women and chil­dren threw them­selves on the floor – so great was the power of God they per­ceived in him.

They did not per­ceive that the man they de­i­fied was a despot – and an evil one at that. Nor did they see that Masocha had come to view his flock as per­sonal prop­erty with whom he could do as he pleased.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Rachel Wat­son.

Shamed preacher: Masocha faces a jail sen­tence Con­fi­dence tricks: Wal­ter Masocha ex­ploited his sta­tus

Un­de­served de­vo­tion: Masocha, who liked to be called Daddy, was wor­shipped by a world­wide flock, in­clud­ing many in Africa

Abuse: Masocha and Jean Gasho, who quit

Killed: Tragic Scott Chiris­eri

Fa­ther: Tichakunda Chiris­eri

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