TWO SONS FOR DEBT. . . Unpaid traditional healer holds children for ransom

Ms Simangele Zimba with her children and her brother

Ms Simangele Zimba with her children and her brother

Freedom Mupanedemo, Midlands Bureau
A SELF-STYLED traditional healer in Gweru has detained two minor children for four years after their mother failed to pay two beasts for the treatment of a rare foot disease.

The kids, now aged 11 and 15 were aged 7 and 11, respectively when their mother, Ms Simangele Zimba (33) handed them over to the inyanga, Juliet Mpofu, popularly known as Gogo Maphilisa in 2013 so she could treat them.

The traditional healer who is insisting on the payment of the two beasts before releasing the children, is so benevolent  that she is paying school fees for the two children who are in grades Three and Six at Nyozani Primary School in Fort Rixon, Matabeleland South province.

The traditional healer is also taking great care of their upkeep and as such the children are now refusing to go back to their family.

Gogo Maphilisa confirmed that she was detaining the kids over non-payment of the bill. “The kids are in good health. I healed them. They are going to school. All I want is payment for the job I did. Just two beasts,” she said.

Asked if the upkeep and school fees did not cost her much more than the two cows she is owed, she said she was following the principles of the occult.

“The payment of the two beasts is a matter of principle. It is also a matter of principle that children should wear good clothes, eat good food and attend school. I will, however, not release them as long as payment is outstanding,’’ she said.

Police in Gweru are now negotiating with both the traditional healer and the children who are vehemently refusing to reunite with their mother.

Officer-in-charge Gweru Rural Police Station Chief Inspector Samuel Tadzaushe, confirmed police mediation but referred all questions to the Acting Midlands Provincial Police Spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende, who could not be reached. “Yes, we have such a case but I am not allowed to speak to the Press. Get comment from the provincial spokesperson,’’ he said.

According the children’s mother, Gogo Maphilisa had initially indicated she would “admit” the kids for only two months so that she monitors the healing process before releasing them back to their mother.

She said it was unfortunate that she failed to raise the money to buy the beasts hence the impasse.

“I did not personally know Gogo Maphilisa but when I approached my brother about the children’s rare disease in 2013, he said he knew Gogo Maphilisa, a traditional healer and took me to her. She told us to bring the kids for two months saying after the period they will be healed.

“When we got to Gogo Maphilisa’s house in Mkoba 18, with the kids she examined them and told us that she would need at least two months for them to heal. She indicated that she needed to admit them so that she monitors the healing and I had no choice but to agree on that arrangement because my kids could not put on shoes owing to the problem.

“My brother who is in Gweru promised he would be visiting the boys every now and then to check on their recovery and would bring the boys back home once they were healed,” said Ms Zimba from Romac on the outskirts of Gweru. She said since 2013, she has not been allowed to see her children after Gogo Maphilisa changed goal posts, demanding that she pays two beasts first.

She said she recently decided to report the matter to the police at Gweru Rural Police Station after Gogo Maphilisa remained adamant that she would not release the kids.

“I have been patient trying to reason with her with my brother stopping me from going to the police to report the matter. I visited Gogo Maphilisa at her house in Mkoba 18 several times but I did not see my kids. I was later to be told she was hiding them somewhere in Shangani that is when I became worried.

“My brother went to Shangani and met the kids but insisted that reporting to the police should be  the last resort.

“His argument was that the kids were in good health and he was negotiating with Gogo Maphilisa to release them but unfortunately this did not happen,” she said.

Ms Zimba said she only reunited briefly with her kids last Friday at Gweru Rural Police Station when Gogo Maphilisa was summoned to the police station.

“Just imagine meeting your kids after four years at a police station? It’s very painful.

Gogo Maphilisa who claimed she stayed under water for four years from where she emerged with healing powers, said she was happy that following the intervention of police at Gweru Rural Police Station, Ms Zimba agreed to pay for her services. “The kids’ mother also agreed that I stay with them while she looks for money to make a down payment in appreciation of what I did for them,” she said.

The children told our Midlands Bureau that they are comfortable staying with the traditional healer.

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  • Chitova62

    Holy Moses, the abduction of the minors in lieu of debt owed is morally & ethically wrong! The law should be applied with full force so the minors are instantly reunited with their biological mother

  • musa

    this is kidnapping pure and simple. seems the cops are afraid of the gogo

    • God of War

      And what of payment that was agreed 4 years ago but no attempt has been made up to now in 2017. People should learn to pay their debts; there is nothing for free.

      • kuda

        if the kids are taken by force, there is a danger on the kids. the inyanga can reverse the cured ailment and let it stay for ever. so lets not hurry things both parties should be made to be happy at the end.

      • musa

        so detain kids to enforce payment

        • God of War

          Some people are stubborn and they need a firm hand otherwise they will not pay.

  • Cetshwayo

    This is kidnapping, why are the Police negotiating with the witch instead of arresting her

    • zibulo

      the “witch” healed them while they were in her custody , as agreed with the parents. define the word KIDNAP. mother and uncle agree payment is due and 4 years since then, they haven’t made any effort. Even at Govt hospitals they refuse you treatment / admission if you dont pay. Why not suggest a negotiated payment plan and the kids go home, instead of ukungcolisa igama lomunye umuntu emsebenzini wakhe ???If mother asked, she would have got donations, theres a lways a plan, she knew the agreement , wena awuyazi

  • RG

    This is so wrong on many levels. Since when have minors been held as collateral for debt? It is the State’s duty to protect the rights of minors where guardians have failed and yet here we have police negotiating? Where is Social Welfare in all this? This case needs to be taken seriously especially where inyangas are involved.

    • God of War

      Mpilo hospital used to do the same thing, so i guess the witchdoctor has a precedent.

      • musa


  • Tyson

    There is no kidnapping here. The children were left admitted at the Traditional Healer’s healing place on mutual grounds. She is still monitoring the condition of her patients whilst waiting for the payment of medical bills. On the other hand the other hand the mother of the children might be failing to provide for the children as evidenced by their denial to be re united with their biological mother. That’s the price of going to traditional healers when Healing Jesus is always available

    • MakhosiXamu

      This is not a simple matter. The mother must own up and meet the agreed terms. This Gogo is taking care of the minors – school fees , food and clothes and that on its own is a good gesture. The mother must renegotiate the agreed terms.

      • Doctor Do little

        With you there is no middle ground. You are a modern yet very stone age individual. No wonder your name is a from a stone ages looking reptile. Both parties should be charged. The one with abandonment and the other with extortion. How do you know that these kids were not being used as Slaves to do chores around the house? This country has Laws and if you use people as collateral for a debt I suppose for your stone age persona that is fine?

        • Zenzo

          KKK The Xamu man will come out swearing.

          • Doctor Do little

            I sometimes wonder…..Ah never mind Zenzo. I think you already know what I wonder. Anyhow my friend I learnt long ago that it is only sticks and stones that can break my bones. As you can see the one they call Roddy is warming up above.

        • Wilfred Njabulo Nunu

          Lani nge modernisation yenu le

          • Doctor Do little

            What modernization are you talking about? Isintu is not modern. I don’t know if in your area they paid debts using children in the old days. Kweyami we paid debts using goods or money.

        • Tarubva Chibva

          Doctor, my relative couldn’t be released from a Govt hospital after discharge because they wanted full payment of bills.

          Go to Harare Central Hospital today to learn that if your relative dies there while admitted you can’t get the body for burial unless full payment has been made. Gogo is following popular practice, spare her.

  • khamarada

    this seems like a case of kidnapping, the police should not negotiate but arrest the healer and the parents and place the children under a childrens home , whilst matter is being handled. There is a possibility the healer has put the children under a spell so that they shun their relatives. may be usebatshaye ngebhulugwe lakhe ukuthi basangane amakhanda

  • khumbu

    Is it lawful for the children to be held as collateral kkkkkkkk

  • God of War

    The mother has to pay the agreed charges. People should learn to pay their debts; there is nothing for free on this earth.

    • mathe

      how will she pay when she has no beasts, the other thing is this mother is also missing out on teaching these kids manners because that is the time for her to be with them

      • God of War

        If she had no means to pay, then she should not have consulted the witchdoctor in the first place. Don’t do things that you can’t afford as there will be consequences.

      • Knightmare

        They are doing quite fantastically with their foster mother didn’t you read?

        • musa

          & who gave her the legal right to be their “foster” mother? she actually detained them against their mother’s (and legal guardian) will. that is why she reported to the police. hospitals (mpilo) in particular tried this detainment-over-payment method and it was declared illegal. what more detaining minors. doing well you say, these are kids & ever heard about the Stockholm syndrome?

  • Supreme Judge

    A very unique and surprising case. You can imagine this inyanga has invested more into the welfare of these kids than what she is demanding as payment. I refuse to preside over this matter. It has no precedent in the history of mankind. I find no human rights have been taversed here save for this stupid mother’s selfish ego.

    • Gus


  • Bongani Dlamini

    These boys are better off with gogo than their sascam of a mother. How could she fail to raise 2 beasts worth of payment in 4 years. She could have worked for gogo for free(in lieu of payment) egebha imithi ,cleaning gogo’s bones, cleaning her phamarcy and so on and gotten her sons back if she loved them. These boys should keep away from this mom who possibly was busy with drunken man in gweru bars.

    • Wilfred Njabulo Nunu


  • Essexvale

    Why are the police negotiating with this traditional healer when her action in detaining the children (for 4 years) plainly translates as the felony of kidnapping? Yes she allegedly treats the children well and sends them to school; yet by holding the children as surety against their guardians’ will still places her in default of the law. Hopefully, concerned lawyers and the line ministry will take appropriate action in order to ensure that justice is served.

    • Doctor Do little

      A very sane comment. Makhosi Xamu’s one amazes me. We have mad men in our society. If you owe me money I take your children? Ridiculous.

      • Essexvale

        Xamu has latched securely onto you. Have you ever thought about why he always seems to target you? My opinion is that he envies anything that sounds sane or meaningful on the platform. He, after all, sees himself as the sole dispenser of words with wisdom and authority in this forum ! Thanks for your support.

  • musa

    can kids consent at law? they are denied their right to be with their mother

    • Gus

      but the mother handed them over. l think its a complicated case for sure.

    • Wake Up

      Come on winning -mew. No one is sucking here. Mama’s milk long dried out. Did mama not send the away personally?

      • musa

        kids are kids until they are 18.

  • Knightmare

    Good story, wrong angle. Our reporters must watch Checkpoint’s Nkepile Mabusa and see how things are done.

  • musa

    not only snatching but even detaining. kidnapping is an act of abducting someone and holding them captive. consult your dictionary or google it if you disagree

    • Wake Up

      Holding captive-means against their will-and causing sufferage or prejudice to acces to basic human rights. The children even deny returning home to mama because the inyanga gave them health and provides better than; And besides going to school, they look welldressed. Would mama do that? Far as children’s rights are concerned, mama is doing the kidnaping and detaining here. Mama gave disease;inyanga took disease away. Mama did not send them to school; inyanga send them to school; mama bought no clothes; Inyanga buys punky juckets and stpots attire. And food and medicine is plenty. What more do you want? Who is detaining the children here?