A traditional leader in Zimbabwe says he has temporarily shelved plans to conduct a witch hunt to solve the mystery of a whole village of women who woke up without their knickers. Chief Njelele of Gokwe abandoned the plan after one of his aides was involved in a bizarre mishap – spreading a fresh wave of terror in the troubled community. Local headman Pauro had gathered villagers to discuss plans to bring a “prophet” to smoke out the suspected wizard who stole the panties when a huge owl swooped just feet away and grabbed a mature male dog with its claws before disappearing in the distance. Owls are associated with witchcraft and evil in superstitious Africa.
Chief Njelele said he feared whoever was behind the mysterious disappearance of the 26 undergarments – which were later found in a heap in the woods – was sending a warning. “I had tasked the two village heads, Pauro and Charuseka, to meet their subjects with the aim of inviting a traditional healer to cleanse their areas,” the chief said. I then saw village head Pauro coming to my homestead with more strange news that a huge owl came flying from nowhere before picking up a male dog at his homestead and flew away while they were at a meeting. It’s mind boggling what is going on in the area.”
Now Chief Njelele says he is gathering a panel of wise men including other traditional leaders from neighbouring communities to try and bring peace to his troubled community. Chiefs Nemangwe and Chireya will arrive for consultations this week. According to Chief Njelele, on July 11 “the majority of women” in two local communities under village heads Pauro and Chariseka went to sleep with their panties on – but mysteriously woke up in the nude. Seventeen women later positively identified their underwear in the presence of the police.
The chief explained: “Some have burnt the recovered panties while others said they would perform some rituals before disposing them. I am keeping the remaining nine at my own risk because as the leader, there is nothing I can do.” Chief Njelele said he had received calls from women’s campaign groups who were planning a visit to the area, with plans to provide counselling and other support to the affected women. Gokwe police said following discussions with the local leaders, they had decided to leave the community to find a traditional solution to the problem.