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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 12:35 GMT
Zimbabwe 'cash for mermaids' con
Little Mermaid
Across the world, stories are told of mermaids and their powers
A fake Zimbabwean traditional healer has been found guilty of conning a businesswoman out of $30,000 to pay for "mermaids" to recover her stolen car.

The money was to have been used to import them from the UK, she claimed, and accommodate them in a local hotel.

Some of the money was to have been used to pay for a bull, whose genitals would supposedly help find the thief of her luxury vehicle.

Belief in animism is widespread in Zimbabwe, and across Africa.

There is a national association of traditional healers but the court found that Edina Chizema was not registered.

She had denied the charges of theft by false pretences but magistrate Sandra Nhau said she was not a credible witness.

Chizema had also asked for money to buy mobile phones to contact the mermaids and said she could solve the businesswoman's undisclosed "personal problems".

She is to be sentenced at a later date.

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