Lindie Whiz, New Zimbabwe (Birmingham, UK), June 28, 2010
A BULAWAYO family has made a desperate plea for help after a 16-year-old boy claimed a SNAKE was entering his body through the foot and EATING his privates following sex with a married woman believed to be “locked”–a witchcraft practice common in parts of Zimbabwe.
The teenager from the Paddonhurst suburb told the Bulawayo Chronicle he met the woman–named as Sharon Manjoro–at Bell Mine in Amaveni, Kwekwe.
The boy claims the woman–believed to have a spell known as ulunyoka/runyoka cast on her by her husband to stop her from being intimate with other men–paid him US$10 to have sex with her.
He tearfully told the Chronicle: “After we were intimate, the woman left Kwekwe and I believe she went to her husband in Gweru. Since then, I have not seen her.
“Soon after I was intimate with her, I felt some itching on my private parts and three days later, a strange snake emerged from nowhere and entered my body through my foot.
“When it reaches my private parts, it starts eating me and the pain I experience during that process is terrible.”
A man identified as the boy’s guardian said: “It is very terrible. The snake appears once everyday and can be seen as it moves in his leg until it reaches his private parts.
“When it reaches that area, it appears to be eating him and the boy starts crying out for help for about 30 minutes.”
The boy’s family say they were turned away by a hospital, and consultations with inyangas have failed to solve the mystery.
In a direct plea to the woman’s husband, the boy’s guardian said: “We are prepared to pay anything to Sharon’s husband because the boy’s life is in danger and we cannot afford to lose him.
“I am appealing to anyone who can treat this kind of ailment to come and help us. They may come to number 19 Dillon Road, Paddonhurst, in Bulawayo or call me on +263712745818 or +263712739879.
“We are desperately confused and asking anyone who can help us in this matter to come forward and help the boy.”
The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association’s Benson Kaseke said that although runyoka/ulunyoka is not approved by traditional healers, it is widespread in parts of Mashonaland.
Runyoka/ulunyoka is typically used by people who suspect their spouses of playing away from home, he explained. “No one wants to live with an unfaithful partner, hence the need for runyoka.”
One of the most common methods of administering runyoka/ulunyoka is to secretly spike a partner’s food, but there are more blatant methods. One in particular is known in Shona as “rwebanga,” or knife. A husband buys a new knife, sprinkles it with some traditional herbs, puts the open knife at the doorstep of his bedroom and then summons his wife into the room. The wife walks in and strides over the open knife and thereafter the husband asks her to pick it up and snap it shut before handing it back to him.
The husband then hides the knife in a place where it is unlikely to be found by anyone else. This is supposed to prevent the wife from indulging in extramarital sex. But if she does dare to have an affair, the adulterous pair risk the humiliation of being caught in the act by the husband, as they supposedly would be unable to uncouple themselves because of the power of the magic charm. “They can only be freed when the husband opens the knife,” says Kaseke.
Married women of the Tavara tribe, in the Mukumbura area of Mount Darwin, who have been enchanted in this way do not shake hands with men they are introduced to, for fear that the medicine would affect them. If a man does shake an enchanted woman’s hand, he is said to feel numb and weak and only regains his strength after the hand is withdrawn.
Kaseke says in some cases daughters are given runyoka by their parents so they cannot engage in premarital sex. To undo the enchantment, the girl is requested to take her boyfriend to her parents’ home where he is given the same medicine so he is not affected by it when they have sex.