Witchcraft ban ends in ZimbabweBBC
- Zimbabwe has unbanned the practice of witchcraft, repealing legislation dating back to colonial rule. The government acknowledges that supernatural powers exists - but prohibits the use of magic to cause someone harm.
In 1899, colonial settlers made it a crime to accuse someone of being a witch or wizard - wary of the witch hunts in Europe a few centuries earlier which saw many people burned at the stake after such accusations.
But to most Zimbabweans, it has been absurd to say that the supernatural does not exist.
Alfred, for example, believes that he was bewitched at work some years ago, making him partly bald. He described how after supper one evening as he and his wife were retiring to bed his hair disappeared.
"When my wife looked at me and said, 'What happened to your hair? Where's it gone?' He spent seven months visiting traditional healers to make it grow back. "She made some incisions round the bald patch, put some powdery muti (medicine) and lo and behold within a few day the hair had grown."
The new law legitimises many practices including rolling bones to foretell the future, divination, and communicating with the dead.
Professor Claude Mararikei (left) - a sociologist and the chairman of Zimbabwe's Traditional Medical Practitioner's Council - argues that witchcraft has some positive benefits in the modern world.
He cites the example of a man who stole some bewitched cement that became stuck to the thief's shoulders so he could not remove the bag.
The church in Zimbabwe has always believed that witchcraft exists, but it has been careful to establish the source of such supernatural powers.
"As Christians we've got to recognise that supernatural forces are good if they originate from God - now witchcraft is one of the things that originates from the Satanic world," says Reverend Roy Musasiwa who runs a theological college in the capital, Harare.
The new Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act will demand proof that a person has supernatural powers and that they are using them to harm others. "It's not going to be easy task," says Custom Kachambwa, a judge with years of experience in the legal field.