Witch hunt underway in Zimbabwe
Witch hunt underway in Zimbabwe

Two elderly women have been killed with poison because neighbours in their African village thought they were using goblins to harm local children.

Jersey Mutero, 83, and Erita Bhebhe, 73, were blamed for a child falling ill in the village of Mangisi, in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe.

According to the New Zimbabwe news service, the pair, who were related, died after drinking 'holy water' in a ceremony presided over by a witch doctor.

They collapsed just moments after supping the toxic brew handed to them by the holy man.

The shaman, named Maxwell Pira, was summoned by relations who believed both women were witches and had used goblins to harm the child.

A cleansing ceremony was held in a bid to drive out the 'goblins' in the hope it would cure the ailing child.

But now Pira is on the run from police who want to charge him with murder over the women's deaths.

Midlands police chief, Inspector Emmanuel Mahako, recounted the bizarre ritual which led to Mutero and Bhebhe's deaths.

He said: "Pira gathered all family members and started praying for them. He also said prayers for a liquid which he called 'holy water'.

"He instructed all the family members to drink the water which was passed around in a cup, but warned that those responsible for the sickness of the young girl should not drink the concoction as they would die.

"The two elderly women drank the liquid but collapsed almost immediately. They were put on a scotch cart but died on the way to hospital."

Flesh-eating cults and lion maulings

The case of Mutero and Bhebhe is the latest bizarre death in the country ruled by President Robert Mugabe.

Earlier this year, a woman was mauled to death by a lion while she was having sex in the bush with her boyfriend.

Elsehere in the country, a human flesh eating witchcraft cult was exposed by two schoolgirls who admitted links to the macabre group.

Meanwhile Mugabe recently enjoyed a lavish £400,000 birthday party held at a football stadium.