Catholic cult followers of ‘Virgin Mary Visionary’ refuse UN aid because “belief forbids us to be fingerprinted”

Burundian Asylum seekers’ camp in Kamanyola


“The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees-UNHCR has suspended its food assistance to more than 2500 asylum seekers from Burundi since Monday 1 January 2018. It intends to stop water supply by the end of this month if they will not accept to be fingerprinted as it requires in its registration system.

Dionise Nyandwi , the spokesperson for those asylum seekers, says they do not adhere to the way of registration that UNHCR obliges them. “It obliged us to be fingerprinted while our religious belief does not allow us to do so”, he says.

He asks the UNHCR or any other charitable institutions to use other registration methods. “We ask the UNHCR or any other charitable institution to use another registration system and to come to assist us because our belief forbids us to be fingerprinted”, he says.

Nyandwi says they have no right to go outside of the camp to do any activity to earn their living as it was before the September attack. “We used to farm and do other activities to earn our living but after the attack, we were grouped in this camp so that we should be assisted”.

The UNHCR’s decision was taken after Burundian asylum seekers didn’t allow the UNHCR officials to take biometric data for their registration. Therefore, they were given three months (from September to December) to reconsider their choice.

Those asylum seekers are Eusebie Ngendakumana’s followers from Burundi. They are grouped in Kamanyola camp in DRC, South Kivu and say that they fled religious persecution in 2015.”

Zebiya Ngendakumana says she sees visions of the Virgin Mary on the 12th day of each month/Photo©Iwacu
Eusebie Ngendakumana

Burundi Police took sides with Catholic Church in disbanding Zebiya cult

Image result for Zebiya
Zebiya cult

The Africa Report (Wednesday, 13 March 2013)

“Burundian police shot and killed six people, while 35 others were wounded, as they tried to disperse followers of a cult leader who claims to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

With a growing cult-like followership, police raised public order concerns and descended on Kanyanza region where they tried to disperse the crowd, resulting in running battles.

However, police efforts turned awry, resulting in an altercation between the force and the faithful.

Hundreds of the sect’s members, some “armed with clubs and stones”, resisted police attempts to prevent them from meeting on a hilltop on Tuesday, reports from the East African nation said.

“The police ordered believers of the sect to leave the place but they started throwing stones at them, so the police opened fire,” Kayanza governor, Athanase Mbonabuca said.

“There were violent clashes. At least six people are dead and 35 wounded,” Mbonabuca added.

The police have since said they regretted the incident, saying the matter could have been handled differently.

“We regret the incident,” police deputy spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye told AFP, as he confirmed the deaths of the six.

Observers say the clampdown came after the local police sided with the Ngozi Diocese of the local Catholic Church, which wants Ngendakumana stopped.

“We formally forbid any sect in Businde. We demand that Miss Eusebie and her followers stop all activities that harm the integrity and communion of the church” Catholic Bishop of Ngozi, Monsignor Gervais Banshimiyubusa was quoted saying last November.

The majority of Burundi’s 8 million population is Catholic and conservative, meaning such cults are hugely frowned upon.

Last year, the police destroyed a sanctuary of the sect in Kayanza – its stronghold – and its followers retaliated by breaking up a Sunday service at a local Catholic church.

The government has been uneasy at the emergence of Ngendakumana’s cult, which came to the fore more than a year ago, while the local Catholic Church has distanced itself from it.

On her part, Ngendakumana says she began seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary 20 years ago.

“It was before I turned 10. I went outdoors during the night and saw a light that was almost blinding. I then saw a white lady, a crown on her head. She was above the terrestrial globe,” she said in a recent interview with Iwacu, a local paper.

She says she continued seeing the apparition from then, but it was not until 1996 that she “saw Jesus” as well.

The one-time farmer has so far been to neighbouring Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia on a crusade about her visions.

Zebiya Ngendakumana, 30, claims to see the visions of the Virgin Mary on the 12th of each month, and hundreds of followers gathered for the monthly spectacle in Businde, in the Gahombo commune of the Kanyanza region.”

Police blocks the road of opposition supporters on their way to a meeting on November 18, 2012 near Bujumbura.

Burundi police continue arrests of Zebiya cult

IWACU-Burundi (In French) – 14-01-2014

“Six followers of Euzébie Ngendakumana, known as Zebiya, were arrested on Saturday evening on 2nd Avenue in the urban commune of Bwiza by the National Intelligence Service. According to Télésphore Bigirimana, the SNR spokesperson, these people, including Zebiya herself, are under routine investigation. However, he indicates that the identification of these people is in progress, without mentioning that Eugenie Ngendakumana is one of them.

However, according to Dieudonné, one of Businde’s faithful, around 15 people were arrested there. Eight women, four boys, including a policeman in front of the house, and three girls. All are brought for interrogation in the premises of the SNR. “We were brought to the documentation near the cathedral,” says Laurence Niyonkuru.

Originally from Kayanza, near Businde where she goes to pray regularly, this girl declares that she came to Bujumbura to have her nephew looked after, and that she was lodged in Bwiza’s house. It is she who is confused with Zebiya when they are arrested. “At the Documentation, I was shown several pictures of Zebiya, telling me it’s me. We even took snapshots of me to compare them with those of Zebiya, “says Laurence, who continued to deny.

According to her, she will be released in the afternoon of the following day, later than the others who returned in the morning. “Several dignitaries came to see me, many saying that I am Zebiya. It was Minister Edouard Nduwimana who identified me as not being her.

For Me Fabien Segatwa, this arrest is incomprehensible. “If prayer was forbidden on the Businde site, why go and arrest people who were praying in Bwiza” wondered the lawyer, who visited the forbidden site. Especially that, he adds, even praying at Businde is not an offense in itself. Me Segatwa therefore wonders what Zebiya is accused of so being sought.

Faithful people ready for anything …

The crackdown against followers of Zebiya has decreased in intensity in recent days.Between March and April 2013, nine followers of Zebiya were killed on the Businde site, in clashes with police who had banned prayers.

About fifty others had been wounded. At Easter, about 40 followers had been arrested in the same place and sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to three years. On April 12, nearly 200 followers were arrested, while they went to the same hill, as every 12th of the month, when there were apparitions of the Virgin Mary. An urgent procedure immediately sentenced them to heavy penalties (between six months and five years in prison).

Euzébie Ngendakumana said that she does not intend to persuade her followers to give up worship in Businde, but to ask those who go there to pray for the Church and the government so that the tension is calmed.

Whether it is the death of a dozen of their companions killed by the police or condemnations to heavy prison sentences, absolutely nothing seems today to be able to stop the followers of Zebiya. They continue to go to this site, every 12th of the month, leaving to brave the police.”

(Translated from French by Google Translate)


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