A 26-YEAR-OLD Seke woman drowned last week during a cleansing ceremony in the Manyame River but because those with her believed she was taken by a mermaid they waited instead of seeking help.
Rutendo Nhemachena believed by those watching to have been possessed by a spirit of a mermaid, was reported to have turned violent and jumped into the river where a traditional healer Isaac Manyemba, 50, was cleansing men and women along with his aide only identified as Mai Manyika or Madzimai Jennifer.
Manyemba and Manyika were reported to have failed to handle Nhemachena who overpowered them before she drowned.
Manyemba confirmed the mishap saying Nhemachena overpowered him and looked as though she ‘possessed with a mermaid spirit’.
“To be honest I had no intention of conducting a cleansing ceremony on the day in question but Mai Manyika approached me saying Nhemachena wanted to take her three year-old child for cleansing,” said Manyemba.
“The two convinced me and I led them to the river where we attended to a number of men and women when Nhemachena suddenly came into the river possessed.
“She pushed all of us and we failed to handle her before she immersed me and disappeared into the water.
“We all believed that she was taken by a mermaid and decided to wait from 3pm until evening when she failed to show up.
“We were comforted by one woman who claimed that her child was once taken by a mermaid when he was seven years old and returned from water at the age of 14.
“Another person claimed that her child spent a week and returned urging us not to cry or worry much so as the mermaid to bring back the person alive.
“Pakataurwa zvakawanda nezve vanhu vainzi vakatorwa nenjuzu vakazodzoka uye iye mufi uyu hanzi akambopinda akazobuda after 3 hours.
“I later decided to inform a village head in Mayambara village who advised me to take the issue to Chitungwiza police station,” said Manyemba.
Nhemachena family spokesperson Patience Gwebede said the deceased was to be buried in Chihota after a postmortem and denied suggestions that a mermaid spirit took the deceased.
“As a family we do not have anything to say much since we still mourning,” said Gwebede.
“We are expecting the law to take its course as well as get an explanation from the traditional healer or Madzibaba and Madzimai who were conducting the cleansing ceremony.
“Manyemba never showed up to give us an explanation and his mobile phone was not reachable until now we are about to leave to Chihota where we are to bury her.
“As a family no one among us knew any story linking the deceased to a spirit of a mermaid and we are still to receive full information from Manyemba and Manyika.
Questioned if Manyemba was a traditional healer or a church faith healer, he said his ancestors are the source of power although he works under the banner of Johanne Masowe yeNguwotsvuku.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the mishap saying police are carrying investigations with a view to establish circumstances leading to the drowning.