IN a terrifying case of suspected witchcraft which has once again put African science on the spotlight on whether it is real or not, a 13-year-old girl from Inyathi in Matabeleland North’s Bubi District has confessed to have stayed in a granary for four days in the company of alleged four goblins and six neighbours during which they feasted on dead people’s flesh.
So scary is her story that when the community came to be aware of it, they labelled her an outcast and forced her out of the village and she is now housed at Musasa Projects offices at Inyathi Business Centre. Musasa champions women’s rights.
In an interview at Inyathi on Thursday, the girl, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, but is from Wensley Village and is a pupil at a local primary school, claimed she started eating human flesh in 2013 with her family and even stayed in the granary for nine days.
In the latest incident, she alleged another villager, Mr Smart Mkhwebu, kidnapped her and locked her in the granary where she stayed for three days and came out on the fourth day. However, Mr Mkhwebu denied any wrong doing.
“It was in the evening when Mkhwebu came to collect me and locked me up in the granary. It was for the second time since I once stayed there for nine days in 2013 eating dead people’s flesh. We were 11 in the granary. I was with six of my neighbours and four goblins which are short people with long beards but they died sometime ago. I slept there and did not eat anything or went to the toilet. I only went with the crew to the graves where I would wait for them to eat the flesh inside the graves. I did not eat because I had no appetite,” she said.
The girl said the group used a stick to open graves before they got inside. The girl said at funerals, one of the group members would put a mark, which would make it easier for them to open the grave when they return at night.
“We would open the grave using a stick then get inside. We would hit the grave with a stick then it would open. This time around I just stood outside the grave and did not eat anything. The crew would come out before sunrise then we go back home using a basket which stretched,” said the girl.
The girl also claimed that her mum was a witch.
“She is the one who has umuthi, traditional herbs to bewitch anyone. Almost everyone in this village eats dead people’s flesh because I used to see them. My mum taught us to eat that flesh while my father was away. He is the only one in my family who has never tasted the juicy meat.”
When Sunday News visited Mr Mkhwebu he chased the crew away, pleading his innocence. However, he confirmed that the girl was found in his granary.
“I saw the girl in my granary. I never put her inside. She came by herself. When I saw her I called the police and they came to collect her. Why does everyone think I am a wizard? Why did you come to get a statement from me while the police haven’t done so, who do you think you are? Get away from my home. I don’t want to see you again. I will buy the newspaper and see what you are going to write about me,” thundered Mr Mkhwebu.
The girl’s father told Sunday News that he was worried when his daughter disappeared but later knew she was locked in the granary after he used traditional herbs and a piece of paper which he pricked with a needle.
“On Sunday when I got home all the doors were open and my child was nowhere to be found until someone found out that she was living in a strange dilapidated old house. We went there with my son and saw her but she came out using a window which she broke and ran away. When she came back later in the evening she said she had been called by Mkhwebu, our neighbour.
Then the following day she disappeared. I traced her spoor leading to Mkhwebu’s homestead so I went there and asked him to give me back my child but to no avail.
“Out of anger I took a piece of paper then I wrote my child’s name using a red pen. After that I used a needle to prick the paper and said ‘. . . mntanami buya ekhaya, lapho okhona bahluphe bakuvulele ubuye endlini’ (my child come back home, wherever you are bother them until they set you free). After that I used herbs and did the whole procedure to get my girl,” he said.
The father said after pricking the paper he went out and that is when Mr Mkhwebu’s granddaughter allegedly came out and took sand of where he had stepped before she dug a hole and put some traditional herbs while he was watching.
“After she dug the hole I went and dug it again and I added my herbs too. I also took sand of where my girl had stepped on and I said ‘mntanami asambe endlini’ (my child let us go home). The problem is that whenever my girl disappears she is found inside that granary. She once disappeared and went there undressed and I found her clothes by the granary door.
“On Thursday the police found my child inside the granary. Our village head Polite Moyo said we should look for a traditional healer so that we find out who is bewitching us but why would I do that when everything is so obvious?”
Efforts to get a comment from the village head were fruitless as he was not at his home and his cellphone was not reachable.
The police could also not be reached for comment.