More than 200 parents besieged Sunningdale 2 Primary School in Harare yesterday, baying for the blood of the institution’s deputy headmistress whom they accuse of practising satanism.
The deputy headmistress, only identified as Marawa, strenuously denied the allegations when she was made to address the enraged parents who had gathered inside the school yard.
She had to be escorted back to her office by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and municipal police, who swiftly responded to the fracas, after the parents threatened to assault and stone her.
When the Daily News crew visited the school at around 11am yesterday, scores of parents from the Sunningdale community had already besieged the institution, owned by the Harare City Council.
Parents were still trooping into the school yard, even as the news crew was leaving the school around mid-day yesterday.
It was being alleged by the parents that some of the learners had to be pulled out of the school on account of circumstances linked to witchcraft or satanism.
Yesterday’s impromptu protest was triggered by a child who had manifested earlier at the school, prompting parents to withdraw their children from attending lessons.
They demanded that the school should remain closed until the deputy headmistress has been fired, adding that the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should intervene and where possible dismiss all those suspected of witchcraft pending finalisation of the matter.
“My child manifested at home saying he does know me and calling out the name Laura. He said he was lost and needed to go to her. I do not know of any Laura and we do not have any relative by that name. Not only was it a scary experience but it was also heart breaking when your child rejects you,” an angry parent said.
The parent said snakes were being sighted at the school and that the alleged satanists were gathering under a tree within the school yard, which they said should be chopped off.
Another parent, Sarah Manyika, said Marawa and some teachers were recruiting children into satanism, further alleging that she saw needles and necklaces on her seat during a meeting with the school development committee.
“As I reached the chair where I was supposed to be seated, I found a needle tangled with a necklace and some feathers. On the necklace was a note written ‘be careful’. What is that supposed to mean? This school is now instilling fear even in the parents,” she said.
When Marawa briefly addressed the angry mob, she denied the allegations.
“I am shocked that they are accusing me of satanism. Whatever they have against me with regard to this matter, can the parents prove it,?” she said.
Marawa declined to talk to the Daily News saying the school’s policy does not allow her to give press interviews.
The Harare City Council’s head of education, Lizzy Muchena, informed the parents that she will take up their grievances to her superiors and will in due course advise of the way forward.
The ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s deputy provincial education director, Joyce Maphosa, said government will investigate the matter, but ruled out dismissing Marawa on the basis of untested allegations.
“We cannot just transfer or fire an employee on allegations. The matter has to be taken to the highest office where it will be determined. She (Marawa) was employed through proper means and, as such, anything that happens should follow the same procedure,” Maphosa said.
Incidents of alleged satanism in schools are on the increase in Zimbabwe.
In February this year, officials at Maramba Secondary School in Mutawatawa and St Joseph Secondary School in Rusape ordered the closure of the two institutions following a satanism scare.
It was being alleged that students at these school were allegedly initiated into satanism after receiving money and gifts from a classmate.
In July last year, pandemonium rocked Nyanyadzi High School in Chimanimani after angry parents stormed the institution, accusing four teachers of initiating 10 students into satanism.