Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
A Kwekwe man who was found in possession of a snake in his vehicle, bringing business to a standstill in the city centre on Tuesday, has denied any connection to the reptile.
Tatenda Mutema (31), handed himself to the police after the snake, which had attracted the attention of hordes of people, was successfully retrieved from his Toyota Wish by rangers from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks).
He was charged for possession of a python which is a protected species.
The Chronicle news crew caught up with Mutema soon after his court case failed to take off and he narrated what transpired.
Mutema, a soldier based at 5 Infantry Brigade just outside Kwekwe, said the owner of the vehicle owns a plot near the army barracks.
“I do not even know the name of the owner of the car to be honest. I met him one day when I was on my way to Kwekwe from the barracks.
He asked me if I had a driver’s licence which I produced and he gave me the vehicle to drive,” narrated Mutema.
He said on the following day, the owner of the vehicle asked him to drive him to Bulawayo.
“I drove him to Bulawayo together with two other women. Upon arrival, he and the ladies hopped into a brand-new Honda Fit Hybrid. He then asked me to drive back to Kwekwe as he said he was on his way to South Africa,” said Mutema.
He said the vehicle owner told him not to use the money he collected from passengers but to take it to his family at the farm.
“I then went to the farm where I left some cash and drove away. On my way from the farm, I gave another man a lift whom I asked what exactly the owner of the vehicle did in life because I had seen brand new cars at his farm and was shocked. The man told me all he knew was that the man was a sangoma,” he said.
Mutema said he never took it seriously and went about with his business.
Disaster struck when Mutema picked up a female friend and decided to use some money he had collected to buy the friend lunch.
“I took a US$10 note to buy lunch. Upon returning I opened the door and was shocked to see part of the dashboard broken. When I checked at the back seat I noticed a huge snake and quickly grabbed the girl and locked the car,” he said.
The rest is history as hordes of people thronged the car in a bid to see the reptile.
“I did not run away, I was there when the rangers removed the snake. I was still in a state of shock and I feared the people’s response,” he said .
Rangers from Zimparks said there was nothing sinister about the snake.