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Zimbabwe Court Rules Suspects Fit for Trial in Witchcraft Case

A Zimbabwean court ruled on Wednesday that two women who recently confessed to engaging in witchcraft practices should stand trial after a psychiatric evaluation declared them mentally stable.

Rosemary Kamanga, aged 48, and Esnath Maodza, 56, were arrested in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West, two week ago after they were discovered stark naked in a neighborhood in the morning.

The two suspects claimed they had been dropped off a winnowing basket by a colleague, named as Shylet Muzeza while returning from a nocturnal witching assignment at a nearby compound.

Though small, unable to fly and virtually impossible to sustain the weight of a human being, let alone three, it is largely believed in Zimbabwe and other African traditions that a winnowing basket can be used as a mode of transport by witches.

Kamanga and Maodza, who found themselves in an unsuspecting family’s backyard, demanded human flesh from their colleague, accusing her of abandoning them and exposing them to retribution by the neighborhood.

Presiding, Chinhoyi Magistrate Fanny Nyakudya told a packed court room that a medical evaluation he had requested found the two to be of “sound mind.”

The suspects are facing charges of breaching the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, pertaining to “engaging in practices commonly associated with witchcraft.”

The two are currently on free bail and are expected back in court July 11.

Prosecutors say they will call, among other witnesses, experts from the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association, ZINATHA, to explain the intricacies of witchcraft to the court.

Parliament amended the country's laws a few years ago to recognize acts typical of witchcraft as a criminal offense.