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Witch hunters wreak havoc in Mhondoro-Ngezi

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2024 at 17:40hrs | Views
Stories of witch hunters wreaking havoc in rural areas have been told repeatedly, but gullible villagers continue to fall victim to the scammers.

Known as tsikamutandas or gauras, the purported witch hunters are on the rampage yet again in villages under Chief Ngezi in Mashonaland West's Mhondoro-Ngezi area.

They are allegedly demanding livestock from poor villagers, and some are said to be sexually abusing young girls much to the chagrin of the rural folk.

The villagers are now desperately seeking intervention from the relevant authorities.  There are allegedly five groups operating in the Madhodha, Block 6 area.

The marauding witch hunters demand property, including household items, livestock as well as money after claiming to have conducted successful cleansing ceremonies at villagers' homesteads.

The outrageous demands come after the witch hunters have exorcised "evil spirits and casting away goblins planted at the homesteads".

Claiming to be traditional healers, according to the villagers, the witch hunters are not only reaping them off, but are allegedly also in the habit of demanding sexual favours from female clients, who include minors and married women.

Villagers told Standard People that the witch hunters descended on the villages recently and allegedly stripped naked in public.

"They wanted to show us that they do not have anything on them claiming to have been sent by the people although they never told us the people they claim to be their clients," a villager said on condition of anonymity.

"These tsikamutandas are also bedding married women and underage girls in the village in exchange for their services.

"We are, however, afraid of exposing them because I once heard that they perform magic spells on the person who exposes them."

The villagers also revealed that it was not the first time that the exorcists had hit the area, as they had become a perennial menace.

"They come every year accusing some family members of bewitching others and persuading them to believe that they need spiritual cleansing," the villager said.

In return, the witch hunters are paid handsomely.

But the witch hunters have also become a source of strife and on several occasions, their footprints have left tears, unbearable scars and broken families.

"Most of the villagers are now feeling the effects of their activities while some are regretting the moment they welcomed them into their homesteads," another villager said.

Itirai Ncube, a villager, accused some village heads of conniving with the hunters to terrorise people.

"Each year they come into our village saying that they want to cleanse the area and they would demand cattle from us," Ncube said.

"Last year the villagers teamed up to beat them up and that is how they left the village.

"It's different this time as the village heads, who also claim to be Zanu-PF members are said to be working with these people to help exorcise their villages.

 "One village head actually held a meeting with the witch hunters and he was promised a token of appreciation in the form of cattle per person assisted.

"They would walk in every village looking for homesteads that have big cattle herds targeting them."

Ncube said the witch hunters have been roaming the villages with impunity.

"Since you are here you can help us expose these people and soon we are going to hold another meeting with villagers, the chief and real traditional leaders to map a way forward," he added.

There are reports that the witch hunters got more than 50 head of cattle from some villages, but their attempts to resell the cattle to villagers hit a brickwall.

"The villagers are very poor and they barely get a US$1 to pay for grinding mill services, there was a problem in selling the cattle," another villager said.

"The witch hunters hired some local men to take the cattle to the nearest market for sale.

"Normally, a cow sells for up to US$400 in the villages but the tsikiamutandas charged US$200 per cow."

Runesu Chidodo who stays near Madhodha Dam lost his cattle to the witch hunters after they accused him of using magic to sleep with women in the village.

"The tsikamutandas saw me walking along the road and said they wanted to visit my homestead as l had ‘mubobobo', which l am using to sleep with women in the village," Chidodo said.

"Since l wanted to show people that l do not have anything l agreed, they came and chased a snake which they claimed l was using.

"I was charged five cows and that is exactly the number of cattle I had in my kraal.

 "My reputation was tarnished and the villagers do not want to see me near their wives."

Chief Ngezi, born Peter Pasipamire, said he could not comment on the matter because his subjects had not made a report.

"I only heard about it and it was not reported to my court," Pasipamire said.

"So l do not know what you want me to say here."

In Zimbabwe, it is a punishable offence to employ a witch hunter under the Witchcraft Suppression Act Chapter 9:19.

It is believed that a sizeable number of Zimbabweans regularly consult traditional practitioners for reasons ranging from health complaints or infidelity to reversing what they suspect to be the ill effects of evil spirits.

Source - the standard
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