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Witchcraft hounds Mutare communities

by Staff reporter
28 Sep 2017 at 12:11hrs | Views
MUTARE - While witchcraft has become a topical subject in President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF following the alleged poisoning incident involving one of the party's senior officials, few would have imagined that what is happening in the ruling party is just a microcosm of a much bigger problem confronting communities.

In a shocking revelation, a programmes officer with one of the children's homes based in this eastern border city cited witchcraft as one of the contributing factors driving children from their homes onto the streets.

As a result, municipalities throughout the country are grappling with the menace of children living on the streets, which has been compounded by several other factors, among them the rise in cases of delinquency involving children, and the upsurge in the number of children orphaned by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Chikondi Nsama, a senior programmes officer at Simukai Child Protection said he has observed that some of the children end up on the streets in search of peace because their homes have been turned up-side-down owing to witchcraft.

"There is a diverse range of factors that either push or pull children onto the streets ranging from abuse and poverty to the outright bizarre," he said.

Witchcraft is defined as the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic; magical influence or witchery.

In the popular sense of the word, no mention is made either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture although the "witch of En-dor" referred in the book of Samuel was a necromancer, referring to one who feigned converse with the dead.

The damsel with "a spirit of divination" in the book of Acts was possessed by an evil spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered, "having a spirit, a python."

Despite being a largely Christian community, many Zimbabweans blame their personal troubles on supernatural influences such as witchcraft.

Hardly a week passes without a local report or newspaper story on the practice.

Just recently, Mugabe hit the roof, threatening to take stern action against people accusing him of allegedly bewitching Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, who fell sick at a Zanu PF rally in Gwanda and had to be airlifted to a hospital in the Gweru.

He told thousands of people at his party's youth league interface rally in Gweru that people accusing him of witchcraft should be taken to court to answer charges of violating some sections of the Witchcraft Suppression Act.

However, Zanu PF dumped former vice president Joice Mujuru in 2014 accusing her of visiting n'angas in an attempt to unseat Mugabe.

She was also accused of being incompetent and corrupt, an accusation she dismissed as misleading.

However, not many would have imagined that this emotive subject is contributing to the increase in the number of children flocking to children's homes or teeming the streets.

Said Nsama: "We have a case of a child who claims that he would have sensations of something creeping up his leg whenever he was at home and whenever he went to a close relative".

Nsama said the sensation would stop the moment he would have left home.

Simukai director Babra Matsanga said in most cases children endure unimaginable abuse for them to then consider the streets a safer space than home.

"It is so sad that they get traumatised to an extent that they consider the streets a safer haven. Some of the abuses these children are subjected to leave you wondering what kind of a people we are," Matsanga said.

She said her organisation was battling to take these children either back into their homes and into foster homes where they are unable to go back home.

"We continue to give them hope that no matter what situation they are in they can have hope," Matsanga said.

The organisation which works with children on the streets, in protective custody and in homes is struggling to feed children under their care.

While the Presbyterian Church has been one of their biggest benefactors with constituent cereal donations, a lot more need to be done to assist them.

"We rarely get donations of meat so this luncheon is an early Christmas.

"We hope that corporates will learn from this gesture and also come through to support the children," Matsanga said.

Central to the organisation's efforts to empower children is ensuring that they get both academic and technical training.

"We believe that if a child is sent to school and is supported they can be whatever that want to be in life," she said.

Nsama said some of the children the organisation has been working with are in university and some are now professionals in diverse fields.

The organisation also runs a vocational college currently offering carpentry, catering and cosmetology while they also support some children and some child-headed families with income generating projects.

Source - dailynews