Tendai Gukutikwa Weekender Correspondent
IN a macabre real life drama, an 80-year-old man is in the eye of a witchcraft storm after family members ganged up, abducted him and held him hostage for four days, threatening to release him only if he had produced a deadly goblin they claim he owns.
80-year-old Mafion Tagwida Mutema went through a gruelling experience at the hands of sibling Paul Mutema and his nine sons Kevinson, Abitron, Enock, Gibson, Layton, Alfred, Samuel, Kevinear and Luinos after he was whipped all over his body and sustaining grave life-threatening injuries.
When The Weekender arrived at his homestead in Makwikwi Village in Chief Marange’s area on Monday, the dejected Mafion was sleeping under a tree, moaning and groaning while his relatives were flocking to see him. As a result of the assaults, Mafion is passing out bloody urine and is nursing wounds all over his body and under his feet. The assailants also shaved his hair and went away with it.
Narrating the sad ordeal of January 8, Mafion said his brother and sons had treated him like a prisoner in an uncivilised manner by whipping his shadow with a sjambok. In the traditional Shona culture suspected witches and wizards can only feel pain if their shadows are flogged and not their bodies.
“We were still asleep, around 4am when they arrived and called out that I had to come out. Before I went outside, they started assaulting my son and his wife and so I rushed out. They then started assaulting me and poured cold water on me threatening to kill me if I did not show them the goblin which they accused me of having,” narrated Mafion.
He said their father who passed away some 45 years ago was a well-known traditional healer and that when he died his tools of trade including a goblin were given to him as inheritance, therefore the witchcraft suspicions from his family.
Mafion however, claims to have disposed of the goblin and other charms that same year since he is a born-again Christian and knew very well that he would not replace his father as a traditional healer. Contrary to that, he said his brother and family think that he still has the charms and is using the goblin to kill his children.
“They force marched me to the mountain and threatened to tie my legs and push me downhill if I did not produce the goblin but still I told them that I had disposed of it long back. I suggested that we go to traditional healers and find out but they refused because they are Christians,” he said.
The gang later took the severely assaulted Mafion to their homestead which is 9km away from his and kept him hostage, indicating that they would only release him after the goblin had been brought to them.
“For four days, I was assaulted severely with sjamboks and poured cold water on. They even assaulted me on my feet and whipped my shadow on countless times,” he recounted the horror days.
Three days later, a police report was made that Mafion had been abducted and had not been seen since that day and four policemen from Bambazonke Police Station were sent to Paul’s homestead. Accompanied by Mafion’s daughter, the policemen were overpowered and Mafion’s daughter was assaulted by her cousins who indicated that she was a daughter of a wizard and therefore deserved punishment.
A reinforcement comprising of Support Unit team based at Diamond Base, Chiadzwa of Juliet Troop and Police Marange had to be dispatched to the scene on the fourth day. They then managed to arrest the culprits. Mafion’s wife Eunice (71) said the incident was a shocker and that they were still living in fear since the culprits promised to kill three people at her homestead to compensate for their own family members’ deaths.
“Some neighbours were assaulted because they tried to help my husband. Our doors were broken since the men were armed and they threatened to destroy our huts,” she said.
One of the culprits, Abitron told The Weekender that the rift between the two families had been caused by the many deaths of female members from his father’s family. He said four of his sisters were mentally challenged while another four had mysteriously died that same year.
“Our elder brother butchered his wife to death and killed himself afterwards giving us enough suspicion that witchcraft was at work in the family. We did not kidnap him but he came willingly and showed us where he had hidden the goblin which is in a cave in Chiyare Mountain.
“In the cave, we only found some incantations, a key which was locked and some spectacles but the goblin was not there. We burnt the stuff in that same mountain and decided to seek help from some healers. We were waiting for the healers to come on those four days that he claims we had kidnapped him,” said Abritron.
He however said that his accomplices had assaulted Mafion and poured water on him since the water was supposed to make him tell the truth.
“Of course, he was assaulted and his daughter too. The water was supposed to make him tell the truth since we had got it from the church,” said Abitron who however denies assaulting his uncle himself.
The accused nine have since been arraigned before the courts and were remanded out of custody to January 26, on $50 bail. They all denied contravening Section 93 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law(Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, otherwise known as kidnapping or unlawful detention.
Mr Mahwe presided over the matter while public prosecutor Mr Fletcher Karombe represented the State. Allegations were that, at around 4am and on January 8, the nine went to Mafion’s homestead which is about nine kilometres away from where they stay and found him asleep.
They ordered him to wake up, accusing him of having a goblin, alleging that the goblin had caused several deaths in their family including the latest of their sister Luna Mutema, who passed on in December 2017.
“Mafion denied owning a goblin but the gang started assaulting him all over his body. He managed to ask if they could seek traditional cleansing as a family since they would not hear his pleas that he did not have any goblins but they objected claiming that Mafion was supposed to simply show them where the goblin was so they could destroy it.
“They ordered him up a nearby mountain but still found no goblin in the mountain,” said Mr Karombe.
They then force marched Mafion to Paul’s homestead where they assaulted him and kept him under their custody declaring that they would only release him after he had produced the goblin.