Con-Court refuses to hear controversial Chigwedere witchcraft furore
Former Cabinet minister Aeneas Chigwedere’s younger brother, Godfrey, wept uncontrollably in court and pleaded with judges to fatally shoot him after the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) declined to hear his case in which he accuses the Censorship Board chairperson of witchcraft.
Godfrey is one of the 31 members of the Chigwedere clan who approached the apex court seeking an order compelling the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association
(Zinatha) and the Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (Zinpa) to exorcise Chigwedere’s alleged goblins which they said were terrorising them in their rural area of Wedza in Mashonaland East province.
Led by Chigwedere’s own son, Mangwiza, the 31 also wanted the Con-Court to give an order to the messenger of court to actively take part in the traditional cleansing process by “ensuring access or providing entry to buildings anywhere the goblins will have fled to,” according to the draft order.
This comes after Mangwiza last year approached the Con-Court seeking an order to compel his father, step-mother and the whole clan to undergo a cleansing ceremony with a view to exorcise the whole clan against alleged witchcraft activities which he claimed were causing several deaths in the family.
Mangwiza cited Chigwedere, his step-mother Emilia Zharare-Chigwedere, his aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and 22 others, including the then Arts and Culture ministerAbednego Ncube, former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, National Council of Chiefs, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Traditional Medical Practitioners’ Council, Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association and the Zimbabwe National Practitioners’ Association as respondents.
Mangwiza said he was convinced that his father and step-mother were practicing witchcraft and or sorcery or incorrect cultural procedures that were tormenting the whole clan.
The matter could not be heard yesterday after the apex court said it could not entertain it since it was improperly filed.
Chigwedere’s lawyer, Tendai Masawi, raised the issue in his preliminary submissions saying Mangwiza had flouted the rules of the court since he did not seek leave for direct access to the court.
In terms of the Con-Court’s rules, a litigant must first get permission to approach it.
Masawi argued that the matter had not been properly brought before the court and therefore it could not be heard.
He also contended that the same matters were still pending at the Marondera Magistrates’ Court and at the High Court, thus Mangwiza had not followed proper litigation procedures.
In his response, Mangwiza passionately pleaded with the full Con-Court bench to entertain his application, seeking to force the whole Chigwedere clan to undergo a cleansing ceremony, claiming that if this did not happen, his father’s goblins would wipe out the entire clan.
But Justice Marie-Anne Gowora, who was leading the bench, informed Mangwiza that the court would not proceed unless proper procedures were followed.
“This court abides by its rules and the laws and nothing else. The view of the court is that there is merit in argument raised by Mr Masawi that you did not properly approach this court and therefore you must revisit the process,” said Gowora.
Mangwiza then tried to cite section 49 of the Constitution which provides special grounds for direct access to restricted persons, suggesting that due to his father’s witchcraft powers, he has been rendered a restricted person.
Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza shot down his argument after she noted that it only applied to persons restricted by the State.
Justice Gowora also said the court could not proceed with the case on the basis that it was still pending in the lower courts.
“So you have matters pending at the Magistrates’ Court and at the High Court. You have matters hanging there and you come to this court. You can’t abandon one court and leave proceedings midway then jump to this court.
You have a multiplicity of cases and this is usually undesirable. We have gone through all the documents whichyou filed and there is nothing in the papers to justify departure from the rules,” Gowora said.
She noted that even if the court was to go ahead and hear the case, it would not give the order that Mangwiza and the 31 Chigwedere kinsfolk were seeking.
“The courts are handicapped in what they can do. It would be difficult for this court or any other court for that matter to give an order.
So the relief that is being sought is not the one that the court can be enforced.
“Zinatha is a voluntary organisation and not a public institution. It has its own constitution and there is a law which governs what they can do and what they cannot do. So it is better for you to seek recourse elsewhere, like the traditional courts,” she said.
But Mangwiza argued that the Con-Court was their only refuge and they could not use the traditional courts since it meant Chigwedere has to preside over the case as
the chief of the area.
At this juncture, Godfrey Chigwedere was asked to have his say as the second applicant, but could not say much as he broke down immediately.
“My family is perishing because of this man, if there is nothing that you can do, you the rulers must take a gun and shoot me right now because there is no point in living anymore,” he said before breaking down into tears.
He had to be helped back to his seat by the other brother, Mafios Chigwedere.