Reports say that the lawyer, Norman Mugiya, wants his clients, Elnette Jinya Mbeve and Christine Matiyenga to be considered as actors and not witches in line with their latest confessions.
Mugiya told the Newsday newspaper that his clients confessed that, “they dramatised the whole event on the self-proclaimed Budiriro prophet, Alfred Mupfumbati’s instructions,” and therefore his clients should be exonerated.
Author Virginia Phiri, whose books deal with such issues as superstition, taboos and prostitution, says the whole incident shows how women continue to be exploited and abused.
“The underlying story here is how this man has used the desperation of two women to fend for their families, in these difficult economic times, to his own advantage.
“However you look at it, this ‘prophet’ is the real criminal here and should be the one detained in custody. But this just goes to show the degree of desperation on the part of these women and how difficult circumstances expose women to abuse,” Phiri said.
She also added that it was common that during hard times, levels of suspicion and superstition rise, and these ‘prophets’ knew this and were taking advantage.
Seasoned journalist Ropafadzo Mapimhidze said she was upset that different newspapers chose to sensationalise the story and in the process, failed to highlight how some men in positions of authority were abusing their positions.
“The media saw these women as objects of entertainment, but titillating as the story may be, there are children who will probably be facing a lot of bullying and teasing as a result.
“This fake prophet knew that these women needed money and he used that to exercise his power over them,” Mapimhidze added.
When arrested Mbeve and Matiyenga, who were supposedly flying on winnowing baskets, had ‘crash-landed’ at Mupfumbati’s house in Harare’s Budiriro 4 on September 11th.
They were allegedly found naked and in possession of paraphernalia associated with witchcraft, including a live owl after they were overwhelmed by prophet Mupfumbati’s powers.
The police charged the two under criminal law which prohibits practices associated with witchcraft. They are still in custody after being denied bail.
However, following the massive publicity that surrounded the incident, families and neighbours of the two women in Landos, Marondera, came forward and disputed the witchcraft story.
They said Mbeve and Matiyenga had been hired to put on the witchcraft act by some false prophets desperate to boost their popularity and increase their clientele.
Further reports in the Herald newspaper said the two were known “prostitutes” from Chihota Communal Lands who had simply lied about who they were and where they were from.
It was only after the residents of Landos blew the whistle that the self-proclaimed prophet Mupfumbati was arrested, with some already questioning the competence of the police officers involved in investigating the crime. – SW Radio AfricaPost published in: News