Zimbabwe’s state wildlife authority says it is investigating reports of a man who allegedly dragged two pythons through the streets of a Harare suburb as part of a witch-hunting exercise.
Images of the man dragging the two giant snakes along a dusty, mango tree-lined street were posted on social media.
Bulawayo24 reported that the snakes had allegedly belonged to a child in the suburb who inherited the reptiles from a late father.
Pythons are protected in Zimbabwe, and anyone found in possession of one illegally can face up to nine years in jail.
A spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) said they had noticed the images on social media with “great concern”. Investigations are underway to identify the culprit.
“We are currently making our own investigations to establish the authenticity of those images as well as the story behind them,” Zimparks spokesperson, Simukai Nyasha, told state-run ZBC radio.
“In terms of the Parks and Wildlife Act of Zimbabwe, it is illegal for anyone to be found in possession of wildlife without a valid permit from the parks and wildlife management authority,” Nyasha added.
Zimbabwe’s feared tsikamutandas claim to be able to sniff out witches and wizards in communities. They are known to use underhand methods to scare residents and extort money.
Nyasha said: “If we find out that these images are authentic; that this person has those two pythons, the law will certainly take its course. And I can assure you it attracts a very heavy penalty.”