Zimbabwe: Self-confessed witch mentally stable

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A self-confessed witch in Zimbabwe who claimed to have flown naked in a winnowing basket for 120km has been given a wholly suspended one-year prison term by a magistrate but her husband is reluctant to take her back.

Harare Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe passed the sentence after a psychiatrist who assessed Regina Sveto, 21, found her to be mentally stable.

“I am of the view that a custodial sentence would result in miscarriage of justice, community service would be parading the accused in public, and a fine would trivialise the offence. I am of the view that a wholly suspended 12 months term will do justice in this case,” Guvamombe said.

Before passing sentence the magistrate asked Sveto’s husband Colleen Zemba if he was prepared to take his wife back to which he replied: “Yes. ”

“Do you have machinery to treat her,” the magistrate asked the husband again, to which Zemba replied: “We don’t know anywhere to go”.“Do you have machinery to treat her,” the magistrate asked the husband again, to which Zemba replied: “We don’t know anywhere to go. We will run around” replied Zemba.

Zemba, in his late 20s, said he did not blame his wife, claiming she had unwillingly been initiated into witchcraft by his father Zemba, appeared to fight back tears during the hearing.

The case attracted a lot of interest from the public who filled the courtroom to hear the proceedings and take a glimpse of the woman.

During sentencing, Sveto went into a trance again while in the dock.

She regained her composure after guards rubbed salt on her face and hands.

Flight in a winnowing basket

The woman claimed in court last week that she had “flown” from Murehwa, some 120km east of Harare, with her father-in-law and an aunt – both of whom she accuses of being witches.

Their winnowing basket aircraft taxied off from a graveyard at their rural home with a sole aim to kill her brother-in-law.

Once at the house in Highfield suburb in Harare, she claims she balked when asked to kill her brother-in-law. Her father-in-law, named in court as Elias Zemba, and the aunt, Filda Zemba, then took off and abandoned her.

She was seen by passers-by stark naked outside the house just after 6AM on May 23. She had to be saved from an angry mob who threw stones at her by the brother-in-law she claims she was on a mission to kill.

A witchcraft expert testified in court last week that the woman’s tale was probably true.

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