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Police probe witch-hunters

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POLICE in the Midlands have launched investigations on reports that self-styled witch-hunters commonly known as tsikamutandas had returned to Zvishavane nearly seven months after they were banished from the district, following a clampdown by the police and members of the Traditional Medical Practitioners’ Council (TMPC).

REPORT BY SILAS NKALA STAFF REPORTER

The witch-hunters reportedly swindle villagers of their cattle on the pretext of cleansing homesteads.

When the operation was carried out last year, they had allegedly collected more than 200 cattle in the district through their activities.

Midlands acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko told NewsDay that investigations were underway following media reports.

“We are investigating the matter following the media reports,” he said. “We are also inviting villagers who might have fallen victim to the alleged tsikamutandas to inform us so that we can get leads.”

Villagers from Mabasa in Zvishavane, who called NewsDay last week, said the witch-hunters were demanding livestock and money for their services from villagers.

Killian Dawura, a villager from Chief Simon Masunda’s area, said the witch-hunters were led by a traditional healer only identified as Ngwenya. However, last Friday Chief Masunda said on his arrival in Zvishavane from Mutare, he made enquiries and he was told that there was one tsikamutanda who had been operating in the area, but left before the traditional leader arrived. “I arrived home on Wednesday and he had gone,” he said.

TMPC senior licensing officer Jennifer Mawuzhendi said her organisation would deal with traditional leaders who allowed illegal cleansing activities in their areas.

“It is high time we took legal action against traditional leaders who allow bogus healers to swindle their subjects on the pretext of conducting cleansing ceremonies,” she said.

In April last year, three witch-hunters Gaurani, Ngwenya and Maguranyanga were reported to be operating from Chief Masunda and headman Samuel Venge Shiku’s places. They allegedly disappeared after the TMPC and the police launched a crackdown against the self-styled witch-hunters.

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