By Walter Mswazie
LOCALS of Zimhofu village in Zaka where more than 30 pythons were found on top of a grave on Sunday are living in perpetual fear following revelations that the snake that gave birth to the hatchlings is still trapped in the grave.
Villagers told a Chronicle news team that toured the area yesterday the giant reptile once emerged from its hiding but quickly slid back into the grave when it spotted some people milling around the area.
They said there was another hole close to a second grave that indicate there could be more such snakes in the area.
The graves are in a long abandoned homestead which used to belong to the Hope family.
Tichaona Maremi from Zimhofu Village said:
“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first saw the hatchlings on top of the grave. We also saw some eggs and this is adding to our fear because this means there could be more of the reptiles around. We pray the Parks and Wildlife people manage to capture most of these snakes before they stray into our homes.”
Villagers say they want to convince relatives of the person whose remains are interred at the site to agree to have the grave dug open in search of the reptile that gave birth to the more than 30 snakes.
“We need to engage the family if we’re to solve this problem for ever. I understand the grandfather of the Hope family who used to reside here was a well-known sangoma popular for his powerful juju and performing miracles. This could explain the hatchling on his grandson’s grave,” said a villager who preferred anonymity.
A meeting was held to find a lasting solution to the reptile problem.
At yesterday’s meeting, Ndanga area spirit medium, Mudano Machinjike, asked the Hope family to lead in the cleansing ceremony of the deserted homestead.
The meeting was attended by Chief Ndanga, headman’s representative, Simbarashe Matumbike, chief’s assessor Reuben Chimedza and Zimhofu villagers.
Machinjike said the owner of the deserted homestead Makavi Manengeni Hope should be summoned to the meeting to explain how he used to live at the homestead.
“After that, a sangoma will be consulted on the way forward.
“I suggest that Hope who lived at the deserted homestead and knows the person buried at the grave should be summoned to the chief’s court. He should be in a position to explain further after which he should lead the cleansing ceremony to be done as soon as possible. This is scary since it’s the first incident of this nature in our area,” said Machinjike.
Chief Ndanga agreed to convene another such meeting at a date to be advised and to conduct a cleansing ceremony with the help of the Hope family.
Makavi Manengeni Hope, who used to live at the deserted homestead confirmed that the grave belonged to his late nephew who died aged 10.
The Chronicle tracked him to his homestead and he said:
“The grave belongs to my late brother’s son. We used to live in Zimhofu village at the homestead that you’re talking about. We left the place in 1967. I’m actually the one who helped establish that village together with Zimhofu. I was his aide while he was the village head. In that same year my late brother, Vurayi Hope’s 10-year-old boy passed on and was buried in the grave in question. However, it was a long time ago and I can no longer remember some of the things that took place then,” said Hope.
Hope said while he is equally perplexed with the incident he doesn’t subscribe to the idea of digging the grave in search of the mother python as that was taboo.
“I received a report about the snakes at the boy’s grave on Sunday and I told the village head’s aide who had been sent to inform me that the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials who came to collect the reptiles could go ahead but without digging the grave. I’m equally shocked although my late father was a sangoma. I’ve not seen pythons moving in large groups like that, not even hatchings,” he said. The Chronicle