FUNERAL proceedings came to a standstill at a local parlour in Donnington, Bulawayo on Saturday after a baboon allegedly stormed a chapel in the middle of a service.
According to witnesses, terrified mourners scurried for cover after the primate roamed around the chapel before security personnel managed to chase it out.
The baboon allegedly gave a free show to passersby after it climbed onto the roof of the premises on Goderich Avenue.
A member of staff at the parlour said they worked tirelessly to calm the public.
“There was a lot of mayhem here and people wanted to abandon the funeral proceedings. Some started accusing each other of witchcraft but we managed to calm them down after we chased it out. The baboon then ran away and climbed the roof and we could not outrun it,” said the worker.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management (Zimparks) public relations manager Tinashe Farawo said his office had not yet received a report on the matter but advised residents to report stray wild animals to the parks and wildlife authority.
“We do not shoot to kill wildlife because we respect the sanctity of all life, so we tranquillise them. Residents are therefore advised to report any incidences of wildlife straying into residential areas in or the CBD. However, we shoot to kill if an animal has been a danger to people because human life is more important. It is quite unlikely though that this baboon may have come from Victoria Falls although we cannot rule it out,” said Farawo.
The baboon terrorised residents in Nketa 7 and Tshabalala Extension suburbs over the weekend.
It was spotted in town on Monday morning.
A vendor who requested anonymity said she was shocked when the baboon charged at her and grabbed bananas from her vending stall.
“The baboon just came and grabbed a bunch of bananas from my vending stall, it ran into the nearby bushes and people thought I was lying when I said I saw a baboon,” she said.
Mercy Mavima from Vanamati Vechishanu Apostolic sect that fellowships at a mountain near Donnington in the same area as the funeral parlour said they were interrupted by the primate during an all-night vigil at their shrine.
Madzibaba Thomas Gumbo of the same congregation said the baboon may have been a sign of bad omen.
“Such things do not just happen, it may mean nothing to all of us but that baboon may be a message to someone. It is taboo to just see a baboon in such a public place.
Other residents said the baboon was suspected to have been aboard a train from Victoria Falls as it seemed to be unmoved by human presence.
“That baboon seemed friendly and used to people so we doubt that it stays in the deep bush. We think it came with the train from Victoria Falls and is used to interacting with tourists. Its behaviour when crossing roads also shows that it is used to people,” said Nonhlanhla Nkomo, a fruit vendor in Nketa 7 suburb.
A traditional healer operating from Makokoba’s Mnkambo who identified himself only as Ncube said it was possible that the baboon may have been sent to someone at the funeral.
“We are African and our African way of doing things can make such things happen. Certain people are gifted with the powers to send animals on errands and to make them work for them. We cannot dismiss that this baboon may have had a spell cast on it to come and manifest at the funeral, however it is possible that it was just a lost animal,” said Ncube.