A Harare magistrate has ordered two women arrested as suspected witches to undergo psychiatric evaluation after they were found naked at a house in Budiriro early Wednesday.
Chipo Chakaja, 26, and her aunt, Maria Moyo, 35, of Gokwe-Nembudziya in the Midlands, told a Mbare magistrate that they had no idea how they ended up in Budiriro – some 400km away.
The two women arrived in court carrying a winnowing basket each. The baskets contained an assortment of witchcraft-related paraphernalia including a live owl, tiny-decorated beads, animal skins, gourd and talisman.
Court officials said police officers were too scared to carry the “evidence” into court.
Mbare magistrate Reuben Mukavhi first heard from Moyo, who recalled going to sleep and then dreaming of herself in the company of her niece and four other women, including a ring-leader called Chiedza.
“I had supper on Tuesday at my homestead and retired to bed at around 8PM. I recall having a dream in the company of my niece and four others whose whereabouts I don’t know,” she said, wrapped in a red cloth.
“We were with Chiedza who was complaining that if we delayed, we would find her daughter-in-law in Harare gone to have her ailing child attended to by some prophets.”
Moyo told the court that she remembered, in the dream, flying in a basket and then crashing while flying over the Budiriro house which is home to a self-styled prophet named in court as Chris Tongai.
Chakaja’s story was almost identical in detail to that of Moyo.
She told the magistrate: “I remember eating supper on Tuesday night, but as to how we got here I don’t know.”
After the two women failed to say what they were using the baskets and the other materials for, the magistrate intervened and stopped proceedings.
“It appears both of you have mental problems. You have left me with no choice but to alter your pleas to not guilty, and I’m sending you both for a medical examination,” said Mukavhi.
Revai Mudzokori, prosecuting, told the court that the two women were found naked outside Tongai’s house in Budiriro 2 shortly after 5.30AM on Wednesday.
It was Tongai, the court heard, who provided the women with the red “holy clothes” to cover themselves.
The two women were arrested and charged with “engaging in practices commonly associated with witchcraft”.