A BULAWAYO woman yesterday stunned a packed courtroom when she threatened to bewitch a  news crew for photographing her 21-year-old daughter who was facing charges of stealing $2,363.

The woman had seen this newspaper's photographers taking pictures of Bridget Svotwa who was due to be sentenced.

Upon seeing the reporters during court proceedings, the woman, who looked to be in her early 50s and was wearing a white robe associated with apostolic sects, hurled insults at the crew.

"What are you doing here? Take that camera away from us! You will regret ever taking pictures of my daughter", she yelled.

Court officials had to order her out of the gallery.

After being chucked out of the gallery, people were treated to free drama as she continued her antics outside the court, daring the crew to take more pictures of her daughter and herself.

"Go ahead and take more of your pictures. So you actually get paid to do a stupid job like that. All of you are just a bunch of petty criminals. I dare you to continue what you are doing. Today you will see what I am capable of," she ranted.

As the crowd grew larger, it seemed to add fire to her antics as she proceeded to make hand gestures as if to summon someone or something to block the camera lens, drawing laughter from the spectators.

"There is nothing that is going to come out of those pictures. All the images will come out black. I will send things to blind you then you will never be able to take pictures of my daughter ever again. I have already finished with you," she charged.

Svotwa's husband, who was visibly embarrassed by his mother-in-law's antics, could also be seen a few metres away holding his one-month-old baby.

As he tried to quell the situation, the woman became restless and started showing the news crew her backside, again daring them to take more pictures. She also tried to remove her clothing, revealing her belly in the process.

She claimed to be aiding the news crew to get a better angle for the pictures.

"Go right ahead, you can even take pictures of my backside if you want to.  Why are you so reluctant to take more pictures now that I have confronted you," she asked.

The court heard how sometime last month Bridget Svotwa was working at Kwik-net Internet Cafe situated at the corner of 9th Avenue and JM Nkomo Street. On March 22 at around 2PM her employer, Christopher Mbiri conducted a spot audit at his Eco-cash shop. He discovered that on March 10 she had $1,344 in cash and $1,352 in her Eco-cash wallet. Later, Mbiri asked Svotwa if she had any money in cash or in the Eco-cash wallet and she only produced $290 and $13 in the Eco-cash wallet.

During the trial, it was also discovered that at one time she had been instructed to transfer $500 to another Eco-cash agent but she did not.

It was also said by witnesses that Svotwa had stopped keeping records of all transactions, claiming she had lost the receipt book.

Magistrate Charity Maphosa sentenced Svotwa to a wholly suspended 36 month prison term. Six months were suspended for three years on condition she is not convicted of any offence in which dishonesty is an element.

A further 18 months were suspended because she is a first offender and needs to take care of her one-month-old baby. Another 12 months were suspended on condition she pays back the $2,363 and performs 630 hours of community service starting on Monday.




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