Human rights watchdog Coalition for Citizens Advocates (COCA) has petitioned the police in Midlands Province to stop the activities of witch-hunters commonly known as tsikamutandas in Zvishavane.
The tsikamutandas are reportedly demanding livestock from villagers as payment for unsolicited cleansing services.
On 15 February, COCA wrote a petition to the Officer Commanding Zvishavane and Mberengwa police raising concern over the activities of the witch hunters in Chief Negove’s area in Zvishavane. Part of the petition read:
As a human rights watchdog, we are also well aware that the issue of the tsikamutandas has been widely red-flagged in all societies as it usually leaves a trail of disharmony, poverty and anarchy in any areas they descend on.
We are also aware that the coming in of such strange visitors is normally sanctioned by among others, the chiefs and law enforcement agencies.
It is our belief that although you may have been ambushed, obviously you are not that blind to the early waves being generated by these ritual gangs in your justification. They are most visible around Ingezi and Poland areas.
… we urge you to round up and arrest them before they inflict the place with more misery.
ZRP spokesperson in Midlands Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko on Friday told the Southern Eye that he had not yet received the petition.
Chief Negove confirmed the presence of the witch hunters when contacted for comment by the publication.
He, however, said he was powerless to chase them away, claiming they were invited by his subjects to cleanse their homes. Said the traditional leader:
People here go and bring these people on condition they are seeking their personal home services and some of them have been here for two to three months.
Those who bring them tell us that they had problems in their families and sought their services. So, we do not have the power to chase people from villagers’ homes.
As we speak, they are in Chief Mataruse and Chief Mazviwa’s areas. So, we have a dilemma in dealing with these because even the cattle they collect from people are cleared by the police.