'Witches' face trial

HARARE - Two suspected witches who caused a stir in Harare’s Budiriro suburb after being caught naked sitting in winnowing baskets, will on Monday face trial, as the High Court defers their bail application.

Maria Moyo, 30 and Chipo Chakaja, 26 of Gokwe, Nembudziya remained in custody after Mbare magistrate Rueben Mukavhi remanded them in terms of the Mental Health Act.

Their High Court appeal failed to succeed after the court struck the matter off the roll last week, ensuring the duo remained behind bars.

Yesterday, the bail application could not be heard because prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba had not filed his response to the request.

The women’s lawyer Tapiwa Takaindisa told the court that he had filed a notice of amendment and had made supplementary submissions.

The bail application was then deferred to Tuesday, while their trial is set to open before a Mbare magistrate on Monday.

The case became controversial after a “prophet” who allegedly caught the “witches” was arrested for stage-managing the act.

Alfred Mupfumbati, 30 was arrested for allegedly hiring the women to stage the act as a marketing gimmick for a reward of a vehicle. He was freed on $200 bail.

However, despite claiming that this was a hoax, the two controversial women told Mukavhi that they were unaware how they got to Harare as they were in Gokwe the previous day.

The two initially pleaded guilty to the charges associated with witchcraft, before Mukavhi altered their plea to not guilty after ordering the two to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

It is the State’s case that the two single mothers “were in possession of an owl, two winnowing baskets, each containing animal skins, gourd, talisman and stuff believed to be used for witchcraft purpose.”

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