Suspected witches seek freedom

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HIGH Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa is today expected to hear the bail application for two suspected witches arrested in Harare’s Budiriro suburb early this month.

JOHN NYASHANU
Staff Reporter

Maria Moyo (30) and Chipo Chakaja (26) were charged with contravening Section 98(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

They were remanded in custody under the Mental Health Act and ordered to be examined by doctors to establish their mental status.

The lawyer for the two, Tawanda Takaindisa yesterday, said Justice Musakwa had initially been scheduled to hear the case last Friday before it emerged that State papers were not yet in order.

“The judge postponed the matter to tomorrow (today) as he insisted on getting an affidavit of one of the accused first,” Takaindisa said.

Mbare magistrate Rueben Mukavhi last week dismissed the suspects’ bail application, saying no circumstance warranting bail had changed since the two were remanded in custody.

Takaindisa had submitted that it would be sensible for the pair to undergo psychiatric examination as demanded by the court while in the custody of their relative who resides in Harare.

The women claimed they were from Gokwe in the Midlands.

“The State conceded that the reason why they were detained was because no one was forthcoming (to take care of them),” the lawyer said.

“Why no one was forthcoming was because of the media hype and fear among family members.

“It is not in dispute that they have to be medically examined, but it is my contention that they be examined while in the custody of someone who would have deposed delete an affidavit.”

Takaindisa produced an affidavit signed by Chakaja’s relative, Wellington Musiiwa, who vouched to take the pair into his custody.

Moyo and Chakaja whose real names and original place of residence have become subject of speculation over the past week, were arrested in the wee hours of September 10.

They were only in their undergarments and in possession of paraphernalia usually associated with witchcraft.

The materials included two winnowing baskets, an owl, a baboon’s hand, among others.

Their presence outside a self-proclaimed prophet’s house triggered pandemonium in Budiriro as hundreds of residents stampeded to catch a glimpse of them.