A SPRAWLING Bulawayo suburb considered one of the biggest in the city by size and population, Cowdray Park, is home to 33 000 households and still growing.
An area of the suburb known as the Garikai section is under attack from mysterious creatures called goblins or otikoloshi in native IsiNdebele.
But the problem goes beyond residents ducking and diving for cover from stones thrown by the invisible creatures, at least to the naked eye.
Self-proclaimed goblin a�?cleansersa�? besieged the area with promises to rid the area of the mysterious creatures, all for a fee of course.
And the Ward Councillor for the suburb, Collet Ndhlovu, is worried the lure of quick riches from desperate residentsa�� hard earned cash is attracting conmen disguised as a�?goblin cleansersa�?.
a�?These people (fake tsikamutandas) come here under the illusion that because Cowdray Park has 33 000 houses and if each household contributes one dollar then they will make a quick $33 000 from desperate residents.
a�?What they dona��t realise is that ita��s only a few houses in the Garikai section that are under attack from the goblins and there is not much money to be made from cleansing the area,a�? said Ndhlovu.
Gogo MaDlamini of Entumbane suburb, a member of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha), said it was difficult to simplify what or how a goblin is a�?madea�? because the creatures were a�?imported mostly from South Africa, Mozambique and Malawia�?.
a�?In our Ndebele culture and healing practices asimazi undofa ngoba yinto ethengwa ngabantu eSouth Africa, Mozambique lase Malawi (goblins are bought in foreign lands) but we can call it a creature made from different muthi to serve various purposes. It can be used to steal money, bring success in business or destroy enemies.
a�?Only people with a special calling like tsikamutandas can cleanse a village of goblins and not just any other traditional healer like myself,a�? said Gogo MaDlamini.
Back to Cowdray Park, local residents association chairman Pastor Johannes Nyoni is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The Man of God does not believe in goblins but as a community leader in the section of Cowdray Park that has come under siege from the mysterious creatures, he cana��t afford to bury his head in the sand.
a�?As a Christian and a pastor I do not believe in the existence of these creatures called goblins. But because Ia��m a community leader I have to listen to the concerns of the residents and together we try and come up with solutions to the problems they are facing,a�? said Nyoni.
Nyoni says before the serious incidents of stone throwing resulting in shattered windows and broken asbestos sheets, he used to receive the odd complaints of money disappearing from peoplea��s homes.
a�?Residents would complain about their money and mealie-meal mysteriously disappearing but things took a turn for the worst when single women started complaining that strange creatures were engaging in sex with them,a�? he said.
A local resident Mxolisi Mlilo took time to explain to B-Metro how the reign of terror started.
a�?It started with the owner of that house complaining that something or someone was throwing stones on his roof,a�? said Mlilo while pointing at a four-roomed house with no perimeter wall and gate.
Sceptical residents did not take the stone throwing antics seriously until two more home owners complained about the same problem.
a�?Within a week, 15 houses had been attacked either in broad daylight or at night. We cana��t afford to ignore what is happening because everyone is now at the mercy of these goblins,a�? said Mlilo.
The affected homes are in two rows of eight houses each. Nothing suggests why that particular area is under attack.