Tokoloshe is brought to court
to the web: 14/04/2009 14:54:21
The “dwarf gremlin-like creature with horns curving downwards; beads; legs and arms without palms” was paraded before a magistrate in the western town of Hwange after two members of the same family and the self-styled prophet were arrested for harassing their grandfather fingered as the owner of the tokoloshe.
A local vernacular weekly newspaper, Umthunywa, reports that the tokoloshe has been kept by police in Hwange.
The court heard how Solani Sibanda, a self-styled prophet from nearby Binga, was called in after female members of the same family reported that they always woke up “tired and wet in the nether regions”.
The court heard several testimonies from female members of the family who all suggested the creature brought to court was going to bed with them at night without their knowledge.
Tapiwa Mwembe, 27, told the court she “felt someone having sex with her”, even as her husband was away. This caused her to be “always weak, and unable to satisfy her husband”.
Mwembe is a granddaughter of White Nengwa Ngoma, the 74-year-old grandfather accused of practising witchcraft, leading to his complaint of harassment against his grandsons.
Another granddaughter, Lambiwe Ncube, gave “a moving testimony” revealing that she started sleeping “with this thing” after her husband died, Umthunywa reported.
“After my husband died, my grandfather promised to find me a man to take care of my sexual needs. Since then, I would feel someone I couldn’t see having sex with me,” she said.
A third woman, Maria Ndlovu, also reported having sex with an “invisible person”.
The women, the court heard, reported the strange happenings to their brothers Balani Nyathi and Potani Shoko who took the decision to seek Sibanda’s services.
Sibanda arrived in the Lukosi village and immediately went to work, leading the family to Ngoma’s homestead.
Taking the witness stand, Sibanda said he went into Ngoma’s bedroom and held the tokoloshe “by the throat”.
“Because it had so much power, I fainted while holding it but I never let go of it,” said Sibanda.
Family members attending the “cleansing” ceremony poured cold water on Sibanda to revive him.
“Shockingly, when Sibanda came back to life, the tokoloshe also regained consciousness,” Umthunywa reported, citing witness statements.
The paper added: “Seeing he was in danger, Sibanda lifted the tokoloshe and shoved it into fire ash and it finally died.”
Magistrate Aeline Munamati issued a restraining order against the nephews and warned them about their future conduct. They are also to desist from harassing Ngoma.
Zimbabwe repealed its witchcraft laws in 2006 and lifted a ban on the practises of many traditional healers and self-styled prophets. Those accusing an individual of witchcraft must show proof of their allegations.
The law however also says “any person who groundlessly or by the purported use of non-natural means accuses another person of witchcraft shall be guilty of indicating a witch or wizard and liable”.
James Ngwenya, prosecuting, told Umthunywa that the men had been spared jail because the court was sufficiently satisfied the accusations brought by the family were not without merit.
BELOW IS AN EXTRACT FROM THE Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act 2004 ON WITCHCRAFT. THE ACT REPEALED THE Witchcraft Suppression Act.
97 Interpretation in Part VI of Chapter V
In this Part?
a person of witchcraft” means to indicate that the person?
98 Engaging in practices commonly associated with witchcraft
Any person who engages in any practice knowing that it is commonly associated
with witchcraft shall be guilty of engaging in a practice commonly associated
with witchcraft if, having intended thereby to cause harm to any person,
such practice inspires in the person against whom it was directed a
real fear or belief that harm will occur to that person or any member
of his or her family, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten
or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.
99 Indicating witches and wizards
Subject to this section, any person who groundlessly or by the purported
use of non-natural means accuses another person of witchcraft shall
be guilty of indicating a witch or wizard and liable?
100 Employing non-natural means to resolve crimes or delicts
Any person who?
101 Belief in witchcraft to operate in mitigation and not as defence to crimes
It shall not be a defence to murder, assault or any other crime that the accused was actuated by a genuine belief that the victim was a witch or wizard, but a court convicting such person may take such belief into account when imposing sentence upon him or her for the crime.
102 Charges alternative to or concurrent with charges under Part VI of Chapter V
person accused of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft,
indicating a witch or wizard or employing non-natural means to resolve
a crime or delict, involving conduct that is in itself otherwise unlawful?
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