108-year-old traditional healer up for extortion

A 108-YEAR-OLD traditional healer appeared at the Harare Magistrates  Court yesterday facing extortion charges in a matter where he is alleged to have demanded US$7 000  to remove a deceased person’s goblin.

The State represented by Marian Furidze told the court that Elias Godknows Zinyemba in concert with his daughter Pamela Zinyemba, his nephew Newlife Magona and two others still at large hatched a plan to extort money from Josephine Edith Nyakujara.

It is alleged in November last year one of the accused, who is still at large, brought a letter to Nyakujara’s late daughter, Precious. The letter was allegedly written by Magona under instructions from  Zinyemba (his uncle).

The State further alleges John Mukorera, husband to the late Precious, received the letter and it was inviting his late wife to Zinyemba’s shrine in Musekiwa village under Chief Musana in Bindura.

Mukorera reportedly invited his mother-in-law to read the letter after which they decided to visit the shrine.

Nyakujara together with her son-in-law and his brother went to the shrine and were helped by the accused.

According to State papers, upon their arrival, Zinyemba did not waste time, but went straight into his shrine and began speaking as if he was possessed with a spirit that could see in the spiritual realm.

It is also alleged Zinyemba  told the complainant and her son-in-law that he had previously given  the deceased Precious some goblins so that she could succeed in her business during her lifetime and that he could see in the spiritual realm that Precious had passed on.

The traditional healer then reportedly went on to inform Nyakujara that he could also see that the goblins had now been abandoned were now in dire need for some blood for their survival.

At that point Zinyemba allegedly went on to threaten the complainant that death in their family was imminent if the blood thirsty goblins were not appeased. Zinyemba is reported to have requested Nyakujara to inherit the goblins, but she declined.

Zinyemba allegedly  went on to tell Nyakujara  that he had agreed with the deceased that whenever those goblins were to be returned there was supposed to be a payment of 40 head of cattle, a house in Harare and a motor vehicle.

The complainant then allegedly negotiated with the traditional healer to pay US$5 000 and a motor vehicle. It is also claimed that Zinyemba allegedly ordered his daughter who works as his interpreter to tie a cloth around Nyakujara‘s waist that could only be removed upon full payment.

The traditional healer reportedly sent the two other accused and Nyakujara to go to the deceased’s house and do the goblin removal ritual and receive payment immediately after the ritual.

Soon after they did the rituals, the two accused allegedly received a full payment of US$7 000 and removed the cloth from Nyakujara’s waist. The complainant then confided in her uncle about the event that had transpired and her uncle organised a meet-up.

Her uncle allegedly came in the company of a Justice Muzungu who allegedly went through the same ordeal with the traditional healer when his father died.

Muzungu alleged he was approached by the traditional healer in the same manner, but became sceptical when he noticed some inconsistencies in Zinyemba’s statements.

 Muzungu allegedly volunteered to escort Nyakujara to the shrine just to confirm if it was the same traditional healer and he confirmed it.

This prompted Nyakujara to make a police report, leading to the traditional healer’s arrest.

The 108-year-old Zinyemba, who is hard of hearing, appeared before magistrate Shane Kubonera and denied the charges.

Zinyemba told the court that he never requested nor received US$7 000, but only received US$3 for the commencement of the rituals.

Zinyemba went on to tell the court that he never forced Nyakujara to pay anything as it is against his traditional healing practices.

He also revealed that he never requested any property, but just four beasts or a monetary equivalent which was pegged at US$200 per beast.

Zinyemba was remanded out of custody to January 20 this year and since he was coming from home, the issues of bail did not arise.


Dionne Kanyowa