Police in Zimbabwe got a little more than what they bargained for at a roadblock, when they opened a laptop bag and found a deadly – and very alive – black mamba.
The bag was “moving” slightly when police stopped Grey Mpinganjira, 32, at the checkpoint in Harare on Sunday, and demanded that the bag be opened, the state ZBC broadcaster reported.
Mpinganjira, who is Malawian, said the snake had already killed three people in his family, ZBC reported in an evening news bulletin late on Monday. He said it belonged to his late mother, who, like Mpinganjira, used it in traditional rituals.
It is not clear what the man’s mother died of – and if it was after being bitten by the snake.
Police arrested Mpinganjira and say he will face charges of possessing a snake without a licence.
He was shown on TV with the snake coiled familiarly around his neck and shoulders.
Black mambas are considered to be southern Africa’s most deadly snake. Their neurotoxic venom inflicted through a bite can kill adult humans within hours.
“These [kinds of] snakes were kept by our mother and since I was helping her in healing processions, our uncles gave them to me when my mother died,” Mpinganjira told state TV.
The fearsome reptile has now been confiscated by the national parks authorities. But Mpinganjira warns it will find its way back to him.
It’s not clear what, if any, other charges the diviner may face. In 2013, two women who claimed to have flown to Harare in winnowing baskets were charged with “engaging in practices commonly associated with witchcraft”.