A witchdoctor identified as Penias Zulu has testified in the Lusaka Magistrate Court that he was spit on, urinated on, beaten and almost burnt to death together with his wife by a mob led by two known individuals after word went round that he was a witch.
Zulu has narrated that his church and some house properties were also burnt on in the process.
In this matter, Moses Ntonkanya, a 43 year old bricklayer and Matthews Nkeyema, a 40 year old welder are charged with two counts of arson and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Particulars of the first count are that Moses and Matthews on January 15, 2018 in Lusaka jointly and whilst acting together willfully and unlawfully did set fire on a church structure valued at K14,600, the property of Penias Zulu.
And in count two, Moses and Matthews in Lusaka jointly and whilst acting together did assault Penias Zulu thereby occasioning him actual bodily harm.
When the matter came up before magistrate Mwandu Sakala, Wednesday, a 48 year old Zulu of Lusaka West, also a farmer narrated that on January 15, 2018, he took some traditional herbs and went to bath so that he could be able to find employment.
“What happened on January 15 around 21 hours, I took some traditional herbs and went in the bathroom. After I finished bathing with the same herbs, I went outside. I was bathing with the herbs because I wanted to be employed. The moment I came out of the bathroom I heard a voice saying ‘what where you doing’ and I said I was bathing. Matthews was the one asking. He was behind the toilet with Moses Ntonkanya. They are before the court,” he narrated.
Zulu explained that after bathing, Matthews, who was standing behind his bathroom, started beating him.
He narrated that after that, a mob joined in the beating and he was undressed and then wrapped in a curtain.
“I have known the two for five years. They live in Lusaka West about 15 metres from my house. After calling me, they then started beating me from the entry of my house. The time they were beating me they were many but the person who started the fight is Matthews. As they were beating me they pushed me inside the house. They then undressed me the tracksuits which I was wearing and wrapped me with a curtain which was at the door. They beat me and dragged me outside,” he said.
Zulu further narrated that after beating him, Matthews and Moses went to his bedroom where they started beating up his wife.
He explained that thereafter, he and his wife were taken near the market area where the mob threatened to burn them.
“Thereafter they went to the bedroom uncovered my wife and started beating my wife as well. After beating me, Matthews and Moses said ‘let us kill them, they have troubled us a lot’. They then took me at a near by market where there were stones. They put some tires on my left and on my right, the other one on the right hand side of my wife,” Zulu said.
He narrated that a stranger suggested to the mob that the couple be taken to the area chairman instead of burning them.
“Matthews said ‘bring the matches and petrol’ to burn us. They didn’t find petrol. When petrol was no where to be found, Matthews said ‘if we take this person to the chairman, he will be forgiven let us just kill him’. Then there came a stranger who suggested not to kill us. They then said let us take them to the chairman,” he said.
“They continued beating me until when we reached the chairman’s place. After reaching the chairman’s place, Matthews and Moses said ‘we have brought a witch’. They were telling the chairman. I don’t know the name of the chairman. The chairman asked me ‘you have been apprehended, you were found bathing traditional medicine at somebody’s house is it true?’ I told the chairman that I was bathing in my own bathroom. They asked me what the traditional medicine was for and I told them that it’s for luck. I was asked where I got them from and I told them I planted them myself in my farm.”
Zulu said the chairman advised the mob to take the couple to the police station.
“The chairman then said ‘you have apprehended him as a witch. Don’t kill him from here but at a police station where you will give your statement’. At that point, I was unconscious I didn’t know what was happening at that point. I was just lifted and taken to the police. When I reached at the police station the police then went to visit the scene. That was around 05 am the following day. They had started beating me around 21 hours. They then sent my wife to go and get my clothes so that they can take me to the hospital,” he said.
Zulu said when his wife went to get his clothes from their house, they discovered that their property had been burnt together with their church.
“When she reached there, she found everything from the house was put in the church and burnt together with the church. I’m the one who built that church. After that the police officers got their clothes and gave me to wear and taken to the hospital. At the clinic, my wounds were stitched. I had cuts at the back of by head and left eye,” he said.
“I went to my house and for sure everything in the house had been burnt. I then told my neighbour Christopher Kalunga to put some plastics around the toilet because it was equally burnt so that we can be using it. When he started putting plastics, Matthews came and said ‘us we have burnt the toilet but you have started rebuilding stop’. I then told my wife to go to the police and inform them. The police officers came to pick them.”
He explained that when he asked the accused to return the things they had burnt, they failed to do so which caused him to report the matter to the police.
“When they came back, Matthews and Moses, from the police they went to the chairman and said I should leave that house. The chairman refused to do that. They then went to the chancellor, the chancellor equally refused. After that, Moses and Matthews went to ask the chairman to apologize to me on their behalf. The chairman then came with them to ask for forgiveness as they realized that what they did was bad and they were just led by the devil,” he said.
“They admitted that what they did was wrong and I told them that “I have heard, you already beat me and anytime I may die but my request is for you to bring everything that you have burnt. They said they have heard and requested for a week to bring the things. A period of one month passed without them coming back. I went to the officer in charge so that the matter can be presented to court.”
Zulu said the church which was burnt was 20 by 10 metres made out of wood and tents and had six curtains and 12 chairs.
He also listed the items from the house which were burnt.
“Five bags of cloths, blankets for my children four, and mine five, three bags for children. Inside the bags there was an NRC, money for school going children K5,000, documents for the church, documents for the farm, documents for introduction as a herbalist, three phones. That money was given to me by my child at the farm and I was supposed to pay for my children at school,” he said.
Zulu narrated that pictures and videos were taken as he was been beaten, urinated on me and spat on by the mob.
And Zulu’s wife also narrated how she was slapped whilst sleeping and almost burnt to death together with her husband.
“On that day, I knocked off from work from doing piece works. I was tired I just reached home and slept. My husband Penias Zulu then said he was going to bath traditional medicine for luck so that he can get a job. I went to sleep, whilst sleeping I was slapped by Moses and Matthews. Then they started beating me in the house. Whilst beating me my husband was also been beaten. I asked that why are you beating me they they why have we found your husband bathing traditional medicine,”said Monica.
Meanwhile, the couple’s neighbour, Christopher Kalunga, asked the court for protection saying the two accused had been threatening him.
Magistrate Sakala then cautioned the accused not to follow any of the witnesses as they risked having their bail revoked.
Trial continues on June 21.