‘Bishop was victim of bizarre Zimbabwe beatings’

Weekend Argus

By Peta Thornycroft

12 February 2017

Cape Town – Zimbabwe’s top human rights lawyer David Coltart released details of some of the boys’ suffering in a 24 page report to Independent Newspapers.

More and more of Smyth’s victims have come forward to tell their stories about the beatings and humiliation and sexual confusion they endured at his hands when they were vulnerable teenagers, all of which were in some way linked to his bizarre sexual behaviour.

Andrew Watson, Anglican Bishop of Guildford, in England, said he is a survivor of Smyth’s “appalling activities” in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has now contacted the police.

Coltart was asked by a group of churches in Bulawayo to investigate Smyth, his Zambezi Ministries and the holiday camps he established after arriving in Zimbabwe in 1984.

The churches in Bulawayo were approached by parents of some of the boys who had attended Smyth’s holiday camps.

The churches then went to Coltart, whose human rights work was well known.

His report details incidents the boys endured and interviews with trustees of Zimbabwe Ministries.

Coltart’s report says teenage Zimbabwe boys attending Smyth’s camp were regularly not allowed to wear underwear during the day or night and were forbidden to shut the door when they went to the toilet.

Some were beaten and forced to walk around nude or skinny dip and bounce around naked on a trampoline watched by Smyth, who was also nude.

The boys said Smyth continually spoke to them about masturbation and was often around them naked, even when they were showering, or praying with them.

But on one camp he clearly went too far and some of the boys were greatly disturbed and confided in their mothers.

“They were miserable when we picked them up from the camp near Harare. They told me they had been beaten,” said Stella Leanders, whose older son Rocky, who now lives in the UK, was on the camp that year with his younger brother and cousin. He was 14 and the other two boys were just 13.

She examined the boys at home and took them to a doctor who found bruises on one of their backsides a good week after he had been beaten.

Although Smyth allegedly used a table tennis bat on these boys and others, he managed to break it on one boys backside atone of the camps.

There were five boys from that camp who complained about Smyth’s bizarre behaviour towards them and their parents then laid charges with the police in Bulawayo.

The boys were all pupils at Christian Brothers College in Bulawayo.

Their parents also went to see their church leaders in Bulawayo. And they in turn approached Coltart, who said he was happy to do the report pro amicus.

Coltart’s report for the churches, which included professional opinions from medical doctors, was then released to all concerned.