THE life story of convict, Robert Machinjike, who is currently serving his sentence for rape in Mutare Farm Prison sounds more like a horror movie than reality, but sadly it is real life drama, which happens in our everyday life with most people unconscious.
Now a born-again Christian, the 67-year old felon opened up to Eastern TimesZim last Saturday during the Prison Inmates Football Association (PIFA) belated Sanhanga Independence Trophy final, and said in his past life he was a witchdoctor (n’anga). He said he performed witchery on anyone who crossed his path, telling stories which send chills down your spine. With his charms, Machinjike said he could supernaturally kill anyone, steal his neighbours harvests or even money unknowingly, among many other sorcery feats.
At Mutare Farm Prison where he was relocated from Chikurubi Maximum Prison in 2016, Machinjike said prison has given him a second chance at life which he makes use of everyday by counseling his fellow convicts who face problems with side effects of attaining sorcery. “I am from Mhondoro. I was convicted of rape in 2015 after the woman I intended to marry was convinced by her family to frame me for rape because they did not like me. I was sentenced to 12-years in jail in 2015, but following my good behavior, the ZPCS (Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services) reduced my sentence to eight years. I spent one year in Chikurubi in 2015 and three years here (Mutare Farm Prison), so I am now left with another four years,” said Machinjike.
He said in prison he however met his match and gave his life to Jesus Christ shortly after being transferred at Mutare Farm Prison after he attended bible sessions by a Christian prison visitation fellowship called Alpha.
“I used to be a very prominent witchdoctor that practiced extreme wizardry like being paid to kill or hurt people through black magic charms (kutsinga). I never ran out of money for basics or beer because I knew how to use my talisman to make money, and witchcraft became my source of revenue,” he said.
“Ironically I first started attending the Alpha sessions for treats of biscuits and drinks during the meetings, but after some months, the word got to me and touched my heart and I became a true believer. What however really touched me was how things started working out for me in prison as a born again Christian. All my life I had relied on my wizardry charms, but within a short space of time God’s grace proved to be more powerful. I quickly got promoted as an inmates supervisor from the yellow tag, blue tag and now I have the red tag, which is the highest order as supervisor of inmates. I tell you, now there is no verse you can tell me about in the bible that I do not know because I have become a devout Christian,” he freely divulged.
Machinjike said he grew up in a family that believed in using witchcraft charms. As the eldest son in his family he was given talismans to be a proficient farmer and used the charms to protect his home. He therefore grew up believing in witchcraft to the extent of going to Malawi to enhance his powers. However, Machinjike, said getting imprisoned made him reflect on his life and realize that there was a greater power than the witchcraft charms he believed in and devoutly followed all his life. He said he was now helping fellow inmates who were suffering from side effects of sorcery.
“I now help and counsel other inmates that acquired wizardry talismans and suffer from the side effects while serving their sentence in prison. As a former witchdoctor I know some of the symptoms that in most cases people try to hide and seek treatment for through western medicine, but I tell you it never works until they confess and turn to Christ to reverse the charms.” As a farmer, Machinjike said in prison he was now taking up practical lessons on animal husbandry and other skills they were being taught in prison, which he hopes to use when he gets out of prison.
In 2014 the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) rebranded to Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) and says it has been making frantic efforts to improve its operations inline with the United Nations minimum rules on the treatment of offenders, better known as the Mandela Rules. ZPCS Manicaland principal correction officer Liberty Mhlanga said as ZPCS their ongoing drive has been conscientisation of communities on their critical role in the rehabilitation of inmates, especially friends and family of inmates. He encouraged families not to neglect people because they went to prison.