THE sacred Njelele rainmaking shrine in Matobo district has reportedly been bombed by yet-to-be-identified suspects, who used mining explosives to blast the main rock that covers the shrine.
BY SILAS NKALA
Njelele is situated at Matobo in Kezi, Matabeleland South province, and has since time immemorial been used by people from various parts of the country and abroad for rainmaking ceremonies and healing of various ailments that affected their communities.
A source and villager from Matobo, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the shrine was bombed on Friday night and the attack was discovered by the shrine caretaker Solifa Ncube on Saturday morning.
“Njelele Shrine has been bombed. Khulu (Solifa Ncube) said on Friday he left all in order at the shrine. I went on Saturday and we discovered that the rock, which covers the shrine, was bombed using mining explosives. They also destroyed the pots in the shrine and looted most of the traditional artefacts which were stored in the shrine,” he said.
“They went inside the cave and destroyed the pots and also put explosives, destroying the stuff inside. Khulu said during the week, he found salt sprinkled all over the shrine and there are a lot of men from apostolic sects who are claiming to be praying on Matobo mountains and we wonder if it’s only in Matobo where there are mountains. Our tradition and culture is being destroyed in front of us.”
The source said the incident was reported to the police and when they left the shrine on Saturday, the detectives were investigating the matter.
Ncube yesterday confirmed the incident indicating that the desecration and attack on the shrine was a serious attack on the local and national traditional culture and values.
“The bombing could have happened on Friday evening because we went to the shrine in the morning on Saturday and discovered that the shrine had been blasted, though they failed to split the main rock. But they destroyed all the traditional pots and regalia,” he said.
Chief Malaba, of Maphisa, yesterday said he was unaware of the incident, while Chief Nyangazonke, who stays close to the shrine, was not reachable for comment.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele could neither confirm nor deny the incident, referring questions to his superiors in Harare.
“I think you will agree that this is a case of national interest, so talk to the national spokesperson,” he said.
National spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba was not reachable on her mobile numbers, while Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was driving and could not comment over the matter.
This is not the first time that the shrine has been attacked.
Fifth Brigade soldiers during Gukurahundi in the 1980s reportedly fired shots at the shrine, an incident which locals claimed triggered a series of droughts in the region.