POLICE are holding a self-styled prophet after two women were found naked outside his house pretending to be witches who "crash-landed" while flying over a Harare suburb in WINNOWING BASKETS.
It was not clear on Monday what Alfred Mupfumbati, 30, would be charged with but police said he would appear in court "soon".
Police were called to Mupfumbati's house in Harare's Budiriro 4 suburb shortly after 5AM on September 11 after reports of two naked women carrying winnowing baskets and behaving strangely.
Police arrested the two women who identified themselves as Chipo Chakadya and Maria Moyo. They were charged under the country's witchcraft laws, but a magistrate ordered that they undergo a psychiatric examination while remanding them in custody to September 24.
But relatives and friends of the two women - who told police they were from Nembudziya in Gokwe - have revealed that they LIED to investigators about their identities and were in fact from Chihota in Mashonaland East.
Maria Moyo, 43, is in fact Elnert Ben Mbewe while Chipo Chakadya, 33, is in fact Christine Nyamupandu Matiyenga.
Police investigators say the two women - who were found with a live owl and an assortment of witchcraft-associated paraphernalia including severed baboon hands - are ready to testify that they had been hired by the "prophet" to carry out the hoax after being promised a car.
Mupfumbati, say police, wanted to cash-in from the publicity to portray himself as "powerful". He had arranged for the two women to be driven to Harare where they were dropped outside his house at 4AM.
A police source said: "His plan was to see people flocking to his so-called shrine - so spiritually powerful witches couldn't fly over it. It was all a grand set-up."
Police and prosecutors will face uncomfortable questions over how they took the women's story at face value - even going to the extent of presenting them in court as witches.
The two women could still be charged under indecency laws for parading in the nude in public and providing false information to the police over their identities.