BULAWAYO, Thursday, September 1, 1966 — A woman told Bulawayo Regional Court yesterday that she became a social outcast from her tribe after she had been proclaimed a witch. The woman Emelia Ncube, was giving evidence in a case in which Makonyo Msipa was jailed for two years by the senior magistrate, Mr St John Burton, under the Witchcraft Suppression Act.
Ncube told the court that Msipa, an alleged witch doctor, “threw the bones” and accused her before people in their compound of being a witch. “That night I slept in the bush. I was frightened I would be killed. When I returned to the kraal some time later I was assaulted”.
Mr John Holland, who is in charge of the Roads Department compound in the Filabusi area said he earlier asked Msipa to throw the bones because he had been attacked three times by a tegwani bird (hammerhead).The court was told that Mr Holland was fined £15 earlier at Filabusi for employing a witch doctor.
The tegwani bird, he said, was a bad omen among the Ndebele tribesmen with whom he worked. “I got worried. I wanted to find out who had sent the bird to attack me”. Msipa threw the bones and told him it was Ncube. A senior High Court interpreter, an expert in Ndebele custom, said that the tegwani bird was bad.”
The people believe that anyone who is attacked by it will become mad”. He said that Ncube’s standing in the community would be greatly impaired by the accusation that she was a witch and had sent the bird to attack Mr Holland.” In the olden days witches were fed to vultures. Now they just become social outcasts from their tribes.
Msipa who pleaded guilty , was told by Mr St John Burton that his action could have had “grave consequences. A simple woman finding herself in such a dilemma may have taken her own life”.
Mr RA McCall-Smith prosecuted.