MATABELELAND North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema, has ordered police and headmen to flush out and arrest witch hunters commonly known as tsikamutandas, whom he accused of tormenting villagers in his province.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Mathema said the witch hunting practice will not be allowed to continue in Matabeleland North, urging headmen and police to work together to stop witch-hunters from harassing villagers.
“Tsikamutandas must be arrested. We don’t want those people here. Who are they to tell people that they are witches and wizards?
This comes amid reports that tsikamutandas were wreaking havoc in many parts of the country, robbing villagers of livestock and cash under the guise of cleansing rituals after labelling them as witches or wizards,” he said.
Villagers are intimidated to attend the witch-hunters’ spatial cleansing ceremonies, and despite government condemning the practice, reports abound that it continues unabated.
Information minister Christopher Mushohwe late last year said government condemned witch-hunting practices, adding Cabinet had agreed the practice was criminal, fraudulent, extortionist and warranted a jail term.
The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) in February weighed in, saying the practice was unconstitutional.
MIHR said the practice violated sections 51, 58 and 60 of the Constitution which speak on the right to dignity, right to freedom of assembly and right to freedom of conscience.
“To the headmen, please, we do not want to hear that you allow these people into your areas. They cause disharmony among villagers.
“They have defrauded people of their cattle and opened businesses here.
“To the police, I urge you to also arrest these people whenever you hear they have stepped foot in Lupane,” Mathema told Matshakayile villagers, villagers on Tuesday at a handover ceremony of 22 pedigree bulls (15 Brahman and 7 Tuli) and 25 bucks (Boer and Matabele) to communal farmers in the area.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by local NGO Linkages for Economic Advancement for the Disadvantaged (Lead) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).