GWERU – A group of self-styled traditional healers, commonly known as tsikamutandas, have invaded Chief Chiwundura’s area where they are allegedly exposing “witches” and “treating” the sick for a fee.
The tsikamutandas have been operating in Chief Chiwundura’s area since September last year and they have so far covered 39 villages. They were allegedly asking for cash and livestock as payment for their services. They would then dispose the beasts to individuals who were after rebuilding their herd.
Some of the villagers seeking to buy cattle were allegedly paying cash to the tsikamutandas in advance.
A villager, a young man who identified himself as Mr Mabhuku, was nearly in tears as he claimed that he surrendered $350 to the tsikamutandas about three weeks back for a cow, but was still to get his beast.
“I gave them (the tsikamutandas) my money, $350, for a cow that I wanted from them. I was told that their cattle are a bit cheap as they just want to dispose them fast before going back to their home areas. However, up to now they are still to deliver.
“At one time, I was shown a skinny cow and I refused to accept it while on another occasion, they tried to give me a calf and I again refused. I am getting worried now that I could lose my money,” said Mr Mabhuku.
However, villagers told a Chronicle news crew that visited the area on Wednesday that the tsikamutandas were doing a great job. They described them as “vasununguri” (liberators) who were healing the sick and exorcising the villagers of evil spirits.
“Vasununguri vauya (our saviours are here). We had suffered for long at the hands of witches, now we are free. I do not even know how I should thank them,” said a middle-aged woman who gave her name as Ms Mlambo.
An elderly man claimed that he had been under “captivity” for years from a goblin that he inherited from his father. He said the tsikamutandas helped him to get rid of the goblin and he gave them a cow as a “thank you”.
The leader of the tsikamutandas, Mr Christopher Chikasha, said his team’s operations were above board as they were invited by the villagers through their leader, Chief Chiwundura. He said they could treat all forms of diseases save for Aids.
“We are here by invitation and have since covered 36 villages in Chief Chiwundura. Wherever we go to practise, it’s strictly by invitation. We never impose ourselves. People of this area are actually clamouring for our services. We started operating here in September last year and we still have a lot of work to do.
“My team helps people in all aspects save for those infected with Aids. We can treat sexually transmitted illnesses but not Aids. We also help people who are mentally ill and those who inherited goblins from their forefathers.
“There are also people who have mubobobo, those who bought goblins and no longer want them and others who practise witchcraft. All these people are assisted here,” he said. Mr Chikasha, who preferred to be called Sekuru VaChikasha, denied that they demanded cattle as payment for their services.
He said villagers who failed to raise cash after being assisted volunteered to pay using livestock.
“We actually don’t want people’s goats and cattle because we do not even have pens to keep them. We do not demand beasts, people offer them to us willingly. After getting help and one is satisfied with our services, he or she gives anything as a thank you. Mostly we prefer cash.
“It is expected that one should pay something if the spirits are to assist us in healing or solving their problems. This has always been the case since time immemorial. What people pay us is decided by the spirits, not us,” said Mr Chikasha.
Business or tokens of appreciation from the “healed” appears to be good for the tsikamutandas as they were driving two cars, a Nissan Box and a Toyota microbus. Mr Chikasha said his team would be heading for Chief Gambiza’s area soon where they were invited by the chief.
Chief Chiwundura’s area does not have a substantive chief following the death of the last substantive leader some years back. The acting Chief Chiwundura could not be located for a comment as villagers said he lived in resettlement areas.
Midlands’ Provincial Administrator, Ms Cecilia Chitiyo, however condemned the operations of the tsikamutandas. She said their operations were illegal and divisive.
“As Government, we do not condone the operations of the tsikamutandas. They divide communities and create friction. Moreover, people lose their livestock, their draught power, thereby affecting their farming. Some of these tsikamutandas are not even registered with Zinatha. We do not like them at all because they cause commotion in society,” said Ms Chitiyo.
She said chiefs were also to blame at times as some of them seemed to benefit from the tsikamutandas’ operations. Ms Chitiyo said her office often held meetings with chiefs, discouraging them from inviting tsikamutandas to their areas. The Chronicle