Police crackdown on Tsikamutandas riles villagers

HARARE - A row has erupted between police and villagers in Mashonaland east amid an escalating operation to rid the area of traditional healers.

Police say the traditional healers, popularly known as tsikamutanda,  are fleecing villagers of their livestock and hard-earned cash on the promise of deliverance.

In Mashonaland East’s Chikomba district last week, police convened a meeting with villagers to coordinate a response to the unprecedented emergence of tsikamutandas in the area in recent weeks.

The meeting was convened as one tsikamutanda was arrested at Domboramavara School at Sadza Growth Point and was due to appear in court facing charges of extortion.

Lameck Tsoka, officer commanding Chikomba district, told the Daily News on Sunday that the police would not fold their arms when citizens are being fleeced by bogus traditional healers whose activities are not sanctioned.

Tsoka said the police had reacted to a public outcry.

“We have ordered tsikamutandas out of this area because we have information that they are fake in most instances,” Tsoka said.

“They are fleecing the community and when they gather, they are supposed to notify us so that we interview them first. That has not been happening and it took us a week to locate them.

“We also need to know if they are registered with the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association. Moreover, they cannot be allowed to impose themselves on the people accusing them of witchcraft because people have different religious beliefs.”

However, the challenge is that villagers see hope and salvation in these spiritual men so much that they are not convinced that they are being fleeced.

Despite attempts by police to stop the tsikamutandas, local headman Matienga Mukapairi Mhurushomana has given the traditional leaders the green light to “cleanse” the community and he has support from part of the superstitious community.

Alexander Hombarume of Hombarume village under headman Mhurushomana accused the police of denying them salvation.

He claimed villagers were voluntarily giving away their livestock and other properties because they were satisfied with the work being done by tsikamutandas.

“You are the ones who give them the letters of authority from Zinatha yet you are chasing them now,” Hombarume said.

“Who among us has been forced to give them their livestock? Isn’t it true that we are giving them at our own volition,” queried Hombarume to thunderous applause from the crowd gathered as the local police addressed villagers warning them against being duped.

Opinion is divided among ordinary Zimbabweans on superstition and witchcraft.

A good number said the only supernatural things they believed were miracles from God.

“The only supernatural power that exists is the power of God and anyone who claims to have healing powers but does not call the name of Jesus Christ is an advocate of the devil and as a Christian, I do not subscribe to their modus operandi,” said Clinton Ndiraire of the Apostolic Faith Mission.

“Tsikamutandas are no different to the biblical prophets of baal and what they do is not supernatural power but magical, and shamanic powers that have no healing effect.” - Mugove Tafirenyika

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