Face to face with Budiriro witches
Itai Mazire and Edwin Mwase
An intensely uneasy mood gripped us as we entered the heavily fortified gates of Chikurubi remand prison. Our entry into the dark and dingy environs of the maximum security penal complex was akin to strolling into the lion’s den as we were to come face to face with Chipo Chakaja (26) and Maria Moyo, the two alleged witches who “crash-landed” in Budiriro recently sending the whole country in a frenzy of speculation.
As we sat down in the small office of the prison officer-in-charge at the Chikurubi remand, our hearts pounded as the two women were ushered in.
There was talk that these two women had converted an owl into a tool of their trade, they had chopped off baboon hands, dried hyena skins and had flown from Gokwe in a reed basket. This is scary stuff that many see in horror movies.
As the two women sat down for the interview to begin, we realised that they looked like other ordinary women out there. They were humane after all.
In fact, at the height of our conversation, they desperately cried out for divine intervention from prophets such as Emmanuel Makandiwa and Hubert Angel.
“We met by fate after being brought together by the death of my husband two months ago,” said Maria, who is one of the two women who were found naked in the wee hours of Thursday morning in Budiriro as she narrated her ordeal on how she and her accomplice ended up donning the dreaded green colour of the remand prison garb.
The two were unanimous in stating that what started off as weird dreams that occurred to them simultaneously went on to become an everyday occurrence.
Maria’s partner-in-crime in this sordid affair, Chipo, a former inter-city trader originally from Hwedza, had also been brought to the “white gold” town of Gokwe when her business took a tumble and her “aunt” invited her to try her luck in the cotton business.
“I would often wake up from nightmares which I assumed would remain as such. I would find myself among gothic characters, some clad in weird clothes, with some virtually naked doing lurid, orgy-like ceremonies,” she explained.
However, what still baffles the mind of the two is that these weird dreams, which they now strongly suspect were the initial stages of their initiation into this nocturnal occult, only started when doom united them in Gokwe, under village head Moyo, in Chief Nembudziya’s realm.
According to them, what was peculiar about their dreams was that they had the same characters, but different venues, with one active player in those dreams, related to both of them always appearing. The two blame this relative for their Gatawa Street, Budiriro, humiliation which is still the topical issue headlining most discussions around the country.
They both said their current predicament was not of their own making, pointing to an underhand family infighting operation which has since seen them being co-opted against their wishes into these mysterious happenings.
Chipo said what she vividly remembers is that they had supper together with Maria who is also her muzukuru and their children in Gokwe on Wednesday evening, before they both retreated to their respective homesteads for the night in the same village.
“I usually sleep in my birthday suit, but on this particular day, I was wearing a pair of blouse and skin tights, but to my surprise when I re-awakened from my hypnotic slumber in Budiriro, my tights were the only thing I was wearing,” she said.
So, the mega question which now boggles the mind of many is their whereabouts on the night of Wednesday and their resurfacing in Budiriro on Thursday morning.
A senior officer at the remand prison who cannot be named for professional reasons confirmed that, indeed, their relative who is based in Gokwe (name supplied) confirmed that the two were in Gokwe on Wednesday night.
The officer said this relative even expressed shock when the grim details of the two’s escapades started circulating on television and national papers, as they (relatives) thought they were somewhere in Gokwe.
Chipo, a divorced mother0 of two went on to explain how it all started. “I was staying in Hwedza, where I was a formal trader for many years” she said. “I have been coming to trade in Harare, but I had never set foot in Budiriro, so I was equally surprised when I emerged from my altered state of consciousness at the front gate of Budiriro police station.”
She said the pecking of the owl, which was one of the suspected witchcraft paraphernalia, on her delicate skin brought her back to reality. She said apart from their weird dreams which they had difficulties in finding explanations, she never suspected her involvement with anything to do with witchcraft.
“I want to state clearly to the people of Zimbabwe that they can judge us if they want, but the truth is that we strongly suspect that someone who is very close to us is behind all these strange occurrences,” she said as she began to shed tears.
“We are asking for help from the men and women of God, the likes of Prophet Makandiwa and Angel, if they can help us in exorcising these evil spirits which are haunting us, making us the laughing stock of the nation,” she said in sobs as sincere prison officers consoled her.
Chief Prison Officer (CPO) Simon Kawondo said they were treating Chipo and Maria like any other incarcerated inmates. “They are sharing the cells with other inmates. Yes, these inmates are aware of the allegations levelled against the two women. “Our officers who have been monitoring them have reported that other inmates are not shunning Chipo and Maria,” said CPO Kawondo.
What exactly could have brought the two alleged witches from Gokwe to Budiriro? The Sunday Mail