A 75-year-old traditional healer from Lupane district has been arraigned before the courts facing charges of sexually abusing eight schoolchildren over a period of three months.

The man, who lives alone in Shabula Village, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of aggravated indecent assault, a count of indecent assault and two counts of rape when he appeared before Hwange resident regional magistrate, Mrs Dambudzo Malunga, closer to the end of last month.

He was remanded in custody to 15 August for continuation of his trial. In his defence, the man claimed that other villagers are jealous of him because he is a traditional healer. He further claimed that he is too old and no longer has sexual feelings and that it was impossible that he could have sexually abused the children as alleged.

The court heard that between January and March 19, 2012, a 15-year-old boy went to stay with the traditional healer. The State alleges that one day, the man ordered the boy to undress and lie down facing downwards.

The alleged offences came to light when one of the children’s fathers noticed that he had arrived home late from school.

On being questioned, the boy revealed that he had passed through the traditional healer’s homestead. A grandmother of another child became curious when she heard the discussion and called her grandchild and asked him why they had visited an old man who stays by himself.

After the boy had told her about what they had gone through, the grandmother made a report to the headman who advised her to hold a meeting with the parents of the other victims to verify the facts.

The children confirmed the allegations and the parents then approached the headman and the traditional leader referred the matter to the police. The headman also sent his messenger to go and arrest the traditional healer.