"It seemed as though I was dreaming. However, reality pointed to the fact that someone had been intimate with me moments earlier." Seventeen-year-old Tracy Mupunga of Village 1 under Chief
Madyangove's realm utters these chilling words as she points to the homestead where an in-law (name supplied) is alleged to have used supernatural powers (juju) to get the home's daughters-in-law into a sub-conscious state before being intimate with them.
Like the others, Tracy believes she is a regular victim of the perverted powers. She is married to the last born in the family, Omega, and stays in the village.
Tales around the strange occurrences sounded frivolous at first. However, a string of such preternatural happenings convinced all family members that the mischievous in-law was up to no good.
The family, including his wife and five sons, recently enlisted the services of a faith healer to rid the home of the charms.
The man who is at the centre of the controversy, however, says his enemies were behind the scandalous allegations.
Tracy was initially cautious about divulging details of the strange occurrences.
"Regai timbodya; tohwa zhara. Tabva kumunda. Mukawanikwa muri pano hapadyiwi ropisa (We want to eat first since, we are coming from the maize fields. There will be mayhem if you are caught here)," said Tracy, who had just returned from a nearby maize field with her mother-in-law.
She appeared frightened, but opened up all the same. "I got married to Omega late last year and that is when I came to this homestead.
"A fellow daughter-in-law, Mercy, told me she suspected this man (name supplied) possessed powers which enabled him to sleep with women sub-consciously."
Mercy said she sometimes dreamt of the in-law being intimate with her. She would wake up each time with evidence pointing to intercourse.
She said she found her undergarments torn in some instances, something the other married women in the home testified to.
"I was in the field, weeding maize, when he passed by. He gave me some instructions that confined me to a secluded place on the periphery of the field," said Mercy.
"Suddenly, I became dizzy. I felt that someone was having sexual intercourse with me. I felt incapacitated, a phenomenon known as madzikirira in Shona.
"By the time I regained consciousness, my undergarments were missing. There were also clear signs that I had been sexually abused."
Her mother-in-law said they had to enlist the services of a local prophet after numerous sexual assault reports from her daughters-in-law.
She alleged her husband wanted to stab the prophet.
"After attempts by my husband to stop the cleansing ceremony organised by our sons, threatening to knife the prophet, he left for an unknown destination," she said.
"He only returned two days later. However, the prophet had managed to recover a number of charms, which, he said, were used in the perpetration of the said sexual offences."
Omega said the family resolved to "move on with life".
"The prophet assured us that he had managed to get rid of the devilish charms. So, we decided not to report the matter to the police or village court for the sake of family unity," he said.
"We would like to forgive him (the in-law) for his misdeeds only if he desists from dabbling in those charms and apologises to all those who suffered because of his evil ways."
Contacted for comment, the accused in-law said it was common practice for African families to have "defensive mechanisms" such as charms.
"Hakuna musha usina makona pamaramiro echivanhu (There is no home without these protective charms)," he said.
A criminal lawyer, Mr Tawanda Maringe, said such cases were "misrepresented" under the Witchcraft Suppression Act
He said individuals could now report cases involving suspected witchcraft following the repeal of provisions of the Act.
"The major obstacle is the burden of providing proof or evidence in court," he said.
New York Times
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