Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter—-
The non-availability of an interpreter for the witchcraft case pitting former education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere and his son last week forced the outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to switch to vernacular language. English is the official language used in our courts, but the failure by the interpreter to show up stalled proceedings in the high-profile witchcraft case that has spilled into the Constitutional Court.
Mr Chigwedere is accused of killing several members of the Hwedza-based family through witchcraft.
“Pane vari munyaya iyi, vakazvimiririra? (Are there self-actors in this case?),” said Chief Justice Chidyausiku. “. . . we cannot proceed in this matter without the services of an interpreter. It does not look like we have one in this court. I think it is best we postpone the matter and make arrangements for an interpreter.”
“Handizivi, pane vauya nhasi kuti tiite nyaya yenyu tisina interpreter zvingangotiti netsei, saka hazviite kuti ingaitwa nhasi, pakuti panofanirwa kunge paine munhu anoturikira kuti munzwisise kuti zvii zviri kuitika. Pane angava nezvaanoda kutaura? (I do not know, could there be anyone who came today? For us to hear the case without the services of an interpreter could be a bit difficult. So, it is impossible to proceed because there must be someone interpreting for you to understand what would be going on. Anyone with a query?
A frail old man replied, “Hapana pangave nechakaipa. (There is no problem if the case is deferred”).
The Chief Justice deferred the matter to an indefinite date.
Mr Chigwedere’s son, Mangwiza, took his matter to the Constitutional Court seeking an order forcing his father and stepmother Emilia Zharare to undergo a cleansing ceremony to exorcise the whole clan against alleged witchcraft activities that have allegedly caused several deaths in the family. Sections 97 to 102 of the Criminal Law Code make the practice of witchcraft a criminal offence.
According to section 98 of the Criminal Law (Codification) and Reform Act, any person who engages in witchcraft to instil fear or harm someone will be jailed for five years or be liable to pay a fine.
In his founding affidavit, Mangwiza argued that he was still convinced that his father and stepmother were practising witchcraft and/or sorcery, or incorrect cultural procedures that had tormented the whole clan causing deaths, misery, ill-health and mental anguish.
These acts of cultural violations, he argued, had vastly impacted negatively on himself and thousands in the clan who had to flee Wedza, but to no avail.
“The right to life has been violated and with the courts even being told on paper and viva voce that we are dying,” stated Mangwiza. “We are being killed and maimed; we have more than 10 mentally-challenged; we are being exploited through culture. I have undergone more than 200 cultural procedures on myself personally, which I have now discovered were uncultural acts and the basis for our ill-health, pain, headaches, suffering, anomalies, having five brothers and sisters mentally-challenged, sisters, who fail to find fecundity to bear children, sisters who fail to marry.”
Mangwiza said it was a well-known fact that goblins feed on human blood. He urged the court to urgently intervene in the matter. “Threat of life in our clan is imminent and many have gone six feet under, and it will continue until the intervention of the courts in the removal of that which is killing and maiming,” he said.
Mangwiza further accused Mr Chigwedere and his wife Emilia Zharare of possessing elephant tusks, one of which has names of existing clan and family members and those deceased are inscribed in pencil.
Mr Chigwedere is opposing the matter.
Mr Chigwedere has been taken to the civil court on several occasions by his son accusing him of possessing goblins that were tormenting the family. But the witchcraft case was dismissed on jurisdictional basis with a Marondera magistrate ruling that the matter was more on the spiritual side.