MANY Zimbabweans have seen or heard of witches on television and film, yet coming face-to-face with one is a rare occasion that draws crowds and can possibly lead to a stampede.Recently, many Zimbabweans thought they had got a lifetime opportunity to see witches live after two nekked women were caught in Harare’s Budiriro suburb last month, sitting in winnowing baskets. Most people believed that the two women were real sorcerers not knowing they were playing witches.
According to the English dictionary, witchcraft is defined as the practice of magic, especially black magic, involving the use of spells and the invocation of spirits. Witchcraft is an act that is associated with several superstitions, whether true or false it remains a controversial issue in today’s society. Some believe witchcraft exists, while others maintain that it is a fairy tale.
The incident of two suspected witches, who were recently arrested in Harare became the talk of town, receiving rave reviews in both print and broadcast media. The women spent close to a month in remand prison before being released on bail last week after the state made verifications on their true identity and place of residence.The story qualifies to be a classic for the year, after it emerged that the two women had been paid by a self-proclaimed prophet to act like witches, as a marketing gimmick. On their initial remand, the women identified themselves as Maria Moyo, 30 and Chipo Chakaja, 26 from Gokwe, Nembudziya.
However, prosecutor Fanuel Madanire confirmed that verifications had been made, proving that they had given false names when they were arrested.
Madanire told the court that Chakaja’s real name is Christine Nyamupandu, while Moyo’s real name is Elinet Ben. He said the two are from Chihota Communal Lands.The women were jointly charged with Alfred Mupfumbati, 30. Mupfumbati is the “prophet” who allegedly caught the “witches”.
He was arrested after claims that the act was stage-managed. Mupfumbati was freed on $200 bail two weeks ago, while the two women were remanded in custody, after Mbare magistrate Reuben Mukavhi ordered that they undergo psychiatric evaluation.After the women saw that the attempt to play witches had hit a brick wall, they told the court during a bail application that they had been paid to act in such a manner.Their lawyer Norman Mugiya, during a fresh bail application, said his clients were innocent.
“The event was dramatised and the main actor in the drama is now behind bars. My clients are properly exonerated. Now that the circumstances have changed that totally quashes any suspicion which existed at the time of arrest. Any insinuation pointing to them as witches from now onwards will be highly defamatory,” Mugiya said.He said the offence would have been sustained only if the two had not confessed that the issue was stage-managed. After their arrest the women pleaded guilty to charges associated to witchcraft.
They were allegedly found in possession of an owl, two winnowing baskets, each containing animal skins, gourd and other paraphernalia believed to be used for witchcraft purposes.Going to such an extent of carrying an owl and other weird stuff, in a bid to cash in on the act, is one issue that boggles the mind of a normal human being. Their relatives, friends and neighbours who are based in Chihota have on the other hand claimed that the two women are well known prostitutes in the area.
People believe that the harsh economic conditions forced these women to act like witches. Despite having successfully duped residents into believing that they were real witches, the duo’s daring stance has created controversy and serious debate.The “witches” escaped a custodial sentence last Tuesday after Mukavhi slapped them with a wholly suspended four-month prison term. This was after the two had pleaded guilty to public indecency charges.