Zimbabwean pastor with family history of suicides takes own life

Bishop Berry Dambaza
The late Bishop Berry Dambaza. |

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe Upper Room Ministries, one of the largest churches in Zimbabwe, is now grieving its senior leader, Bishop Berry Dambaza, after he reportedly jumped four stories to his death from a local car park in Harare Monday. He was 59.

The church also pushed back against rumors that the pastor was sent over the edge after finding out that his wife, Sithembeni Dambaza, had been unfaithful to him.

“Those rumors are entirely and wholly untrue. They are malicious and extremely regrettable,” PAOZ spokesman Reverend Craig Ndoro told ZimLive on Tuesday. “Yesterday, when this tragic incident happened involving the bishop, his wife was actually at home nursing the bishop’s mother, and we have just received terrible news that she has also died.”

The news outlet said the bishop’s wife was so overwhelmed by the loss of her husband and mother-in-law that she was hospitalized briefly as well. 

Ndoro added, “Bishop Dambaza’s wife of over 30 years was not cheating on him, and no, he did not find her in a compromising position in the office. We’re not sure who has been generating these rumors, and spreading them. They are very hurtful not just to the family but the church as well. Bishop Dambaza touched many lives in Zimbabwe and internationally, perhaps that’s why we have rumors flying quicker than facts. But those that know him, his wife and children know that no such issues are true, and that gives us a bit of comfort.”

Addressing the rumors of her alleged infidelity at her late husband’s funeral this week, Sithembeni Dambaza said: “I was not interested in following what was being posted on social media although someone wanted to share that with me. I just became emotional and promised to take legal action about it.”

“People who know me know that whenever I stand on a pulpit to preach, I am not that kind of a person who is of loose morals. In fact my job is to correct what is not right and to rebuke what needs to be rebuked. That is me and my husband was different from me. If people tell you different stories it’s not true. I was not there when my husband passed on. I was attending to my mother-in-law.”

She explained that the day before her late husband’s suicide, they were involved in a car accident in which he was assaulted at the scene.

“Things were not all good that Bishop Dambaza was nearly attacked by the person who was driving an unregistered vehicle,” she said.

Sithembeni further explained that her late husband, who served as a provincial overseer and a bishop in charge of finance, administration, evangelism and church planting with his church group until his death, had been worried over his personal finances.

She said that she loved her husband, with whom she had four children, very much.

Family spokesperson Tonderayi Ian Chimhuwa, who is the late bishop’s brother also revealed in his eulogy that their family has a history of suicides including their grandfather who hung himself.

“For your family, please plead his protection from controversial deaths, the death that saw our great grandfather drown in a river. Your grandfather Dambaza was also found hanging himself from a slippery and tall gum tree just after independence. Your sister also perished in that fatal accident in Harare, 200 meters before her destination,” he said as mourners listened.

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