The family of pastor Berry Dambaza, who fell four floors to his death at a car park in central Harare on Monday, suffered a double blow after the preacher’s mother died just hours after her son’s tragic end.
Police are investigating the 59-year-old preacher’s death as a possible suicide.
Dambaza, the author of two Christian books, was a senior pastor at the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe (PAOZ) Upper Room Ministries. PAOZ is one of the biggest churches in the country with over 200 branches.
The church on Tuesday moved to deny social media rumours that Dambaza took his life after walking in on his wife, Sithembeni, with another man in an office.
“Those rumours are entirely and wholly untrue. They are malicious and extremely regrettable,” PAOZ spokesman Reverend Craig Ndoro told ZimLive.
“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.”
Monica Dambaza, the bishop’s 90-year-old mother, suffered a “very serious stroke” recently.
“She was not young and wasn’t doing very well after the stroke,” he said.
ZimLive understands that Sithembeni Dambaza was so traumatised by the loss of her husband and mother-in-law in such a short space of time that she has been admitted to a hospital.
Ndoro added: “In short, 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 rumours, 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 rumours 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.”
Ndoro said the church had been left “hurt and shocked” by Dambaza’s sudden death.
“We’re telling our members to remain calm so that we at least get to know what happened. Because of the circumstances of the death, we’re also waiting for answers from the police and the post-mortem which should go long way to answering questions around how he died,” he added.
Police were called to the Rezende Parkade in central Harare after 2PM on Monday over reports of a dead body in the car park exit.
Witnesses told police the man, later identified as the bishop, had fallen from the fourth floor of the car park.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “We can confirm that a church pastor allegedly jumped from the last floor of Rezende Parkade and died.
“We are currently investigating the case to establish the motive or the reasons behind the apparent suicide.”He had two sons and two daughters with his wife, Sithembeni.