PANDEMONIUM reigned supreme in Muchena area of Penhalonga last week after a 31-year-old man was found dead in a nearby dam following his disappearance for almost 18 days.
The Muchena community alleged that the man, Respect Kudzai Muradzikwa, died as a result of witchcraft as a neighbour, Abigail ‘Mai Chantie’ Bhatoni had ‘secured’ her house so that anyone who steals anything from her would die.
Mai Chantie has been a subject of scorn and is now being treated like an outcast following Muradzikwa’s death.
A mini-demonstration was held at her homestead, with irate neighbours baying for her blood and banishment from the area.
They argued that her wicked acts of ‘securing’ her property would claim the scalps of many people as she was a well-known shebeen queen who hosted many people at her house.
It is alleged that she was so cosy with her clients and some of them would get favours from her. Some would even take her property to their homes.
The Muchena community also claims that Mai Chantie has a hit list of six people who stole from her.
Muradzikwa was the first person to die and five more are now quacking in their boots as they do not know when the death angel will visit them.
Muradzikwa was found floating in a dam after he had allegedly stolen a radio worth US$2 from Mai Chantie.
Mai Chantie admitted that she had secured her property from those with sticky fingers.
She said she has suffered so many losses through thefts, hence the decision to hire the services of a spiritual healer to secure her property.
Following his death last week, the Muchena community took Muradzikwa’s body to Mai Chantie’s homestead and placed it at her doorstep.
The drama later degenerated into a free for all scenario last week on Wednesday during Muradzikwa’s burial.
Ugly clashes were witnessed as people exchanged blows, with counter accusations flying left, right and centre.
Muradzikwa’s wife, Kudakwashe Matsimike said there was bad blood between her late husband and Mai Chantie after he spurned her sexual advances.
She said Muradzikwa had once stumbled upon Mai Chantie bedding another man and had threatened to spill the beans to her husband.
As a counter measure, it is alleged that Mai Chantie unsuccessfully tried to lure Muradzikwa to go between the sheets with her.
“My husband told me that she had seen Mai Chantie (Bhatoni) bedding another man. He refused to disclose the name of the person, afraid that I would gossip about the issue. That is the root of their grudge.
“From that time, my husband would get free beer from Mai Chantie to buy his silence. One day, Mai Chantie saw my husband relieving himself and she asked him to bed her, but he refused. She wanted to silence him at all costs.
“Before my husband disappeared and eventually died, he confessed that he had taken Mai Chantie’s small radio. He said he could hear a radio playing in his ears. I believe that my husband had not really stolen from Mai Chantie as it was their habit as patrons at her shebeen to take things from there,” said Matsimike.
She added: “My husband lost his marbles and we took him to Mai Chantie’s homestead. She admitted that she had protected her property from thieves. We had to call the person (name supplied) that she had engaged to secure her property. The spiritual healer told us that he was in Chipinge. We sent him US$50 for bus fare to travel back so that he could reverse the curse.
“When the spiritual healer came, he said he was going to help him using maize grains to reverse the curse. My husband was given a grain of maize to chew and was asked to tie the other grain in a cloth. He was supposed to bury the other grain in murky waters.
“The spiritual healer remained with the last grain and told Mai Chantie to remind him what to do with it after we had left her homestead. He also took a knife and placed it in a dish filled with clean water and the water turned into blood. We did not understand what was going on, so when the spiritual healer said my husband would recover, we believed him,” said Matsimike.
She said the spiritual healer told them to take Muradzikwa home so that he could sleep.
“Before we left Mai Chantie’s homestead, my husband told her that he didn’t know that she was that wicked. My husband refused to go home with us. He just left. I last saw him on December 28. We did not know his whereabouts until when his body was discovered. It was in an advanced state of decomposition,” said Matsimike.
Tawanda Muradzikwa, brother to the late Muradzikwa, said his brother ran away from home, claiming that he was being chased by Mai Chantie and two short men.
“We found my brother’s decomposing body in a dam. He had blood in his mouth and ears. I think Mai Chantie used my brother for rituals. I think she killed him and dumped the body in the dam to hoodwink people into believing that he had drowned.
“How can a man drown in a small dam like that when the water does not even reach one’s knees? And the other thing that made us assume that he was murdered was the fact that we found our brother’s body facing upright. If he had drowned, he was supposed to face downwards.
“When we came to collect his body, we found a black ladies pant that we believe belongs to Mai Chantie, as well as fresh human waste near the dam. I think this was all done to conceal all evidence linking Mai Chantie to my brother’s death,” said Tawanda.
In a separate interview, Mai Chantie said she only secured her property.
“I was losing my property to thieves, including chickens, goats and even plates. The people in this community would do whatever they wanted at my house because my husband is always away. He makes weekend visits.
“I sell beer at my house and a lot of young men come here to drink so I had to take action. I approached a spiritual healer who helped me secure my property, but I didn’t know that it would result in someone’s death,” said Mai Chantie.
She said she would try to make amends with the bereaved family.
“I admit that what I did was wrong, but I did not want things to end in this way. I also chipped in with funeral assistance for the late Muradzikwa. I am prepared to appease his spirit,” said Mai Chantie.
She also said she is now worried about her family’s safety as she has been receiving endless threats from the community.
“I am worried about my children’s safety. They have seen me being harassed by people. They also witnessed the drama as Muradzikwa’s corpse was dumped at our doorstep. This is psychologically traumatising them. They are no longer safe here, but anyway what can I do. I am prepared to take whatever comes my way head-on,” she said.
Mai Chantie also said she failed to attend Muradzikwa’s funeral out of fear.
Instead, she sent emissaries with her funeral assistance, but the Muradzikwa family rejected it.
Police confirmed the incident and said investigations are in progress.
However, just a day after Muradzikwa’s burial, all hell broke loose as his spirit started wreaking havoc, seeking retribution.
The spirit is possessing people from the community, explaining to them about his death at Mai Chantie’s hands.
He first manifested on a community member, one Mai Mashawa, before doing the same on five other villagers including his wife.
They narrated how he died. Those possessed also attacked a fellow villager, Simba Mashaba, saying he had assisted in his murder.
The spirit said: “I died a painful death. A day after the spiritual healer tried to save me, I went back to Mai Chantie’s house. She teamed up with four other people to strangle me to death. They dragged my body to the forest and dumped it there for 15 days. When they realised that I was decomposing, they dragged my remains to the dam and dumped them there.
It added: “My mother once came closer to where my remains were, but could not see me as she was blinded by Mai Chantie’s goblins. Enough is enough and the truth has to be told. I will pursue all those who helped Mai Chantie to kill me and get rid of my body. I will name and shame them. I will not rest until my spirit is appeased.”
One of the manifesting women spoke in a voice which the community said is Mai Chantie’s and explained that she had no intention of killing Muradzikwa, but only wanted to punish him through a mental illness.
“I was having an affair with Respect (Muradzikwa) and he was very good in bed. I thought if I used his sperms for rituals, my business would be good, just like him in bed.
“Unfortunately, Respect knew what I had done because he foresaw everything and cautioned me. He threatened to spill the beans, so I had to take action. He did not steal the radio, I fabricated the whole story. I have tattoo marks (nyora) on both hands to attract young men,” said the voice.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) president, Mr George Kandiero said the late Muradzikwa might have been possessed by a spirit or his family might have done some rituals to evoke his spirit to avenge his death.
“It is very possible that a dead person can start avenging his death a day after his burial due to anger. He could have been possessed by a spirit that was protecting him.
“His family could also have done some rituals to bring back his spirit to haunt those who killed him. It is an avenging spirit that needs to be appeased and it will not rest until justice prevails,” he said.