A Zimbabwean magistrate has ruled that two self-confessed witches who claim to have flown on a winnowing basket (rusero) must undergo medical and psychiatric examinations.

Prosecutors said on Thursday that Rosemary Kamanga, 48, and Esnath Maodza, 56, who were arrested earlier this month after they were found naked in the yard of a home in the town of Chinhoyi, 110 kilometres (70 miles) northeast of Harare, have been charged under witchcraft laws carrying the penalty of a fine.

hey also face indecent exposure charges. In local belief, the flat, traditional hand-held winnowing basket is equivalent to a witch’s broomstick in Western fable.

The magistrate said the court would reconvene on July 11 to hear evidence from the medical report and the testimony of traditional leaders.

The women claimed the threshing basket – which witches are said to use for transport – “ditched” them in the yard after a naked night ritual nearby.

They were discovered by Eneresi Mufunga, 55, who told how she woke up at 4AM after “a voice” told her that “something was amiss”.

The devout Christian, who keeps “holy water” in her home, said she began sprinkling her house with the liquid and noticed the naked frame of a woman crawling out of the door of her bedroom on all fours.

The woman later stood up and “appeared tongue-tied”. Mufunga said she then heard screams metres away, coming from a grass and pole bathroom.

She investigated and found a second woman, also stark naked.

At the time of their arrest, a police spokesman said the two women confessed to being witches.

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