Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi, the spokesperson for Zimbabwe Republic Police, has dismissed reports that there is a group of criminals kidnapping and beheading people, especially children. These type of criminals are popularly known as mabhinya in the Shona language.
Fake WhatsApp messages
The announcement was prompted by several fake WhatsApp messages that have gone viral. According to one such message there is a group of 300 men that came from South Africa that is working undercover for the sole purpose of beheading children for ritual purposes:
Police in Vic Falls called for a meeting for all parents to attend and showed them 7 men they had caught. These men live in Rugars.The men confessed that they came from south africa and they r among a grp of 300 pple who came for the sole purpose of beheading children for ritual purposes. Several children have since gone missing. Parents r being advised to look after their children. These pple are living amongst us.
Such a fantastical claim ought to be dismissed with the contempt it deserves but it seems a lot of parents are worried. This author boarded a kombi with one of the parents who actually believed this rumor to be true.
There is nothing to the rumors
The ZRP has confirmed there is no such group of criminals in their custody. In any case mabhinya are traditionally known to work on a small scale and usually the demand for their service is quite limited. Large scale operations like this are unheard of and the claim reeks of sensationalism.
The police are urging concerned citizens to verify messages like these by visiting their nearest police station. It is understandable that people are not taking this advice given how the police have lost people’s trust over the years.