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Chiefs accused of protecting tsikamutandas


Efforts to stop witch-hunters notoriously known as tsikamutanda from wreaking havoc across the country have hit a snag as traditional leaders have allegedly come out in support of their illegal activities.

This was revealed by the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC) senior licensing Officer Jennifer Mawuzhendi in an interview with NewsDay this week.

Mawuzhendi said tsikamutanda continued to wreak havoc in areas such as Chinhoyi, Mhangura, Masvingo, Gokwe and Zvishavane despite the efforts by the TMPC to stop them.

She said witch-hunters’ illegal activities were being aided by traditional leaders and the police’s reluctance to round up and arrest them.

“We have tried to engage villagers, chiefs and police in the affected areas to increase awareness on the illegality of the witch-hunters’ activities,” Mawuzhendi said.

“But our efforts yield no results as some chiefs keep on postponing our meetings with their subjects for unclear reasons.”

She said her organisation had recently received reports tsikamutanda activities had resurfaced with intensity in Gokwe, Zvishavane and Masvingo.

Mawuzhendi said it was hard for her organisation and the police to stop the activities because traditional leaders protected and in fact haboured the witch-hunters and hid them when police sought them.

“We are lobbying for the arrest of traditional leaders who prevent the arrest of the witch hunters. This is meant to protect villagers from continuously being swindled of their property,” she said.

“We are having a strategic meeting on what should be done about these activities this week. We really need assistance to curb this problem because all our efforts have been unsuccessful yet people continue to be robbed in broad daylight. These operations are very underhand,” said Mawuzhendi.

In April this year, police in Zvishavane arrested one suspected tsikamutanda identified as Edison Mandara who, together with fellow “hunters of witches”, had wreaked havoc in the district.

Midlands police spokesperson Patrick Chademana recently said a police blitz on tsikamutanda was scuttled by chiefs and headmen who allegedly assisted the tsikamutandas to evade arrest.

Tsikamutanda demand cattle and huge amounts of cash from villagers as payment for their cleansing services.

They also “fine” alleged witches who pay in cash or in kind through heand other livestock.

It has however been proved many times that these people are nothing but confidence tricksters and outright conmen using hand-made “goblins” that they plant at the homesteads or fields of people they later accuse of being witches.

Efforts to get comment from the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira were fruitless on Friday as his mobile number was unreachable.

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