THREE tsikamutandas were arrested in Gweru’s Central Business District (CBD) yesterday after they were found with a puff adder while on their way to a “cleansing ceremony” in Shurugwi.
Travellers, traders and touts first ran for dear life when the snake was discovered by police in a bag at around 9.30AM.
They later trickled back to get a glimpse of the venomous snake.
Midlands police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko said police asked to search bags that were in possession of the men from Sanyati in Gokwe North.
The snake was found in one of the bags.
The police spokesperson said a fourth suspect, who is the suspected ring leader of the tsikamutandas and identified only as Sekuru Munyaradzi, managed to escape from the scene.
Insp Goko said the four were on their way to Shurugwi for witch-hunting exercises in unnamed villages.
“We arrested Tinei Ndanga, 25, Tapiwa Pfunye, 32, and Vengesai Gomera who were found in possession of a live snake in one of their bags. The trio was at Shurugwi turn off opposite Cathedral Hall when police on patrol approached them and asked to search their bags,” he said.
Two suspects bolted away from the scene and were arrested after they were chased by the police. On opening their bags, the police discovered the live snake – a puff adder and immediately arrested them.”
When The Chronicle visited the scene at around 10AM, police officers were having trouble controlling the crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of the snake.
The three suspects said the snake belonged to Sekuru Munyaradzi, their leader who fled when police started searching the bags.
“The snake belongs to our group leader Sekuru Munyaradzi who is a traditional healer. He ran away when he saw the police searching our bags. He just asked me to carry the bag and he never told me that there was a snake inside,” said Gomera.
“We were on our way from Gokwe to Shurugwi to perform witch hunting exercises where Sekuru had been invited.”
The discovery of the snake raised suspicions that it was going to be planted at targeted homesteads to accuse villagers of being “witches”.
The tsikamundas demand payment for their cleansing ceremonies.