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Witch Hunts In The News

Woman Stuck In Drain Accused of Being a Flying Witch

Abalti Barracks, Lagos, Nigeria

Witch Caught 3
Photo by EazyMedia Photos

In the “you can’t make this up” category, a young woman was rescued from a gutter around Abalti Barracks in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday morning, and accused of being a witch for being in the gutter.

Local media reported that a passer-by spotted the woman calling for help and ran to the nearest police barracks for assistance. Rescuers cut open the barricade with great difficult, and were finally able to bring her out. She came out naked. Local media reported the story with variations of the following headline; “Woman Turns Into A Bird And Lands Into The Gutter In Lagos”.

According to Daily Post Nigera, upon interrogation the woman declared, in tears, “My name is Amudat Jimoh. It was God that sent me here. He said I should confess my sins so that I don’t die. Please, I need water to drink. Help me. I don’t know how I found myself here. Please help me.”

Despite her pleas and explanation, many local residents said she was a flying witch who fell and got stuck inside the drainage, considering that the drainage had to be cut open by a welder. Others felt she might have fallen into the gutter during the night.

“I saw this kind of situation years back,” an eyewitness said. “A woman was found inside a pit toilet and said she didn’t know how she got there. According to her, the last thing she recalled was being at a native doctor’s house to get cure of HIV. A bag was found on her with Anti-retroviral drugs in it and money. This is a case Witchcraft.”

The woman was taken away by Ambulance for medical attention.

Photos on local media were titled with variations of “witch caught”.

Witch Caught 1
Photo by EazyMedia Photos
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Witch Hunts In The News

70 Year Old Accused Witch Stoned To Death In Kenya

Burning Body

One astonishing aspect of monitoring news sources for witchcraft-related attacks is reading apparently indifferent accounts of horrific events. This article from a Kenyan online newspaper is a perfect illustration, where the author doesn’t seem the least bit fazed by the fact that a 70 year old man was stoned to death in Kenya in 2014.

The sub-title read;

A 70 year old man was attacked and his body set ablaze by residents of Kiambere in Mbeere South on suspicion that he was practicing witchcraft.

The entire article follows;

OCPD Bernstein Shari said police have started investigating the matter and those involved in the death of the elderly man will be arrested and prosecuted.

Shari asked residents not to take law into their hands and instead involve the police by reporting suspects for proper interrogation.

The body of the deceased is still at the Mbeere Police Station.

Perhaps the only thing worse than being stoned to death and your body burned is to be stoned to death and your body burned, and then have your demise reported with little interest in local media. Ever human being deserves better than that.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Mob Kills, Buries A Man Accused Of Witchcraft

Kabende Village

A seventy-two-year-old man, Muchinga Kabali, was accused of witchcraft and killed in Kabende Village in Chief Kasoma Bangweulu in Samfya, Zambia. Mr. Kabali was killed and buried by a mob that suspected him.

Luapula Province Police chief Malcolm Mulenga said that at around 16:00 hours on Sunday, February 24, an angry mob descended on Mr. Kabali with various objects and murdered him. Mr. Mulenga said Mr. Kabali was suspected of changing into a crocodile which was terrorizing and killing people in the area.

He said around 17:00 hours, a 28-year-old, Evans Chibuye of Prisons Township, reported the matter to Samfya Police saying that he had seen a mob attack a man. When police officers rushed to the village, they found the mob had dispersed and the body of Mr. Kabali was already buried by the same mob.

Mr. Mulenga said no arrests have been made and investigations had been launched into the matter.

“I wish to warn the public to refrain from taking the law into their own hands. Those found wanting concerning this matter will be dealt with,” he said.

Mr. Mulenga said police have marked the grave and have informed medical practitioners that they would exhume the body to conduct a postmortem.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Woman Branded Witch, Killed In Chhattisgarh, India

Chhatiisgarhi Dance

RAIPUR: A woman was killed in India on suspicion of being a ‘tonhi’ – a woman involved in witchcraft practices – in Uparwara village of Naya Raipur on Wednesday.

Local police arrested four people, all who were the woman’s immediate relatives. The case is similar to one of Balrampur, India where a woman was killed by her neighbors when their relatives suffered from a prolonged disease.

The deceased, Dulari Bai, 52, was the wife of a local farmer, Hariram Sahu. The couple didn’t have children. Her husband’s brother, Mehattar, and his family had always accused her of being a witch and beat her frequently because of it.

Things turned worse recently when Mehattar’s daughter-in-law fell sick and murmured Dulari’s name in an unconscious state, which enraged all of the family members. They suspected that Dulari was working spells on the woman to make her sick. Then early on Wednesday, Mehattar, with his wife Rajwanti, son Madan and another person named Manoj, went to Dulari’s house with traditional weapons and beat her to death.

Police acted swiftly and arrested all four of the accused under sections 302, 34 of the IPC while, after further investigations, the case would be registered under relevant sections of the Witchcraft Prevention Act 2005, police said.

“The psychology behind such extreme steps is usually to end the cause, as just a suspicion on someone would not serve the purpose and villagers’ problems would remain intact. Hence, without giving second thoughts, they either humiliate, assault or kill women under suspicion,” said Dr Dinesh Mishra, who is working against superstition and black magic.

He said that it was high time for the administration to take a call. “Acting against accused and working according to prevention Act is fine, but there’s an urgent need to make people aware about how innocents are being killed over groundless issues,” he said.

However, when contacted, the state commission for women told the Times of India that the commission was working without a chairperson, as the former serving Vibha Rao’s tenure ended in December and no other official preferred to comment.

Talking to the Times of India, Subrat Sahu, secretary of the department of women and children, said that cases of assault had come down. “Consistent awareness programs are going on in affected areas which need to be intensified. We would call for registered cases and after conducting surveys, would act swiftly against the issue.”

Chhattisgarh witnesses say frequent cases of assault on women over witchcraft practices often go unreported. This is a third major case reported in last 15 days in the state.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Woman Beaten For Witchcraft In Nepal

Golbazar, Nepal

SIRAHA, NEPAL: A gang of three men in Asanpur, Golbazar ruthlessly beat a woman whom they accused of practicing witchcraft. Subardevi Yadav, the victim, was severely beaten up at her own house on Monday.

According to local police, the attackers have been identified as locals Mahendra Yadav, Jugana Yadav and Badri Yadav. They also attacked the other family members of Subardevi.

Subardevi said the villagers have been accusing her of practicing witchcraft for a long time already.

“I have told them not to put baseless accusation on me,” she said.

According to Subardevi, she had even challenged the villagers to bring a ‘real witch-doctor’ to check if she was really a witch.

Subardevi is receiving medical treatment at Golbazar-based Shree Ram Hospital.

Police have already arrested assailants Mahendra and Badri. The third attacking, Jugana, is in hiding. Further investigations are underway, police said.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Surat, India – Widow Branded As A Witch, Beaten

Witch BrandedSURAT, INDIA: A 39-year-old widow was allegedly beaten by her in-laws, who branded her as a witch in Bhinar village of Vansada taluka in Navsari district, India. The woman was branded a witch because her sister-in-law’s husband suffered from diabetes and her husband died after prolonged illness in early 2012.

The victim, a tribal woman, was admitted to a Vansada hospital for treatment. She suffered severe injuries on face and other body parts after being assaulted by three family members. Police booked her mother-in-law, Champa Patel, sister-in-law, Java and her husband, Gunvant Patel. The mother of three was punched and beaten with sticks by the accused.

The accused have reportedly fled from the house after the complaint as police had to return empty-handed on Sunday.

“The victim stated in her compliant that she was branded as witch by the accused. The accused blamed the victim for death of her husband Narendra and they were now blaming her for illness for Gunvant,” said Devabhai Dahwad, head constable and investigation officer at Unai police station.

During the last few weeks, Gunvant was not keeping in good health and he was suffering from various problems due to diabetes.

“Gunvant is suffering from diabetes for which the victim was blamed. We are in search of the accused and they will be arrested. We searched for the accused at their residence but they have fled from there,” said police.

The woman and her family are farmers. The victim was married to Narendra in 1996 and was living together with the family since then.

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Witch Hunts In The News

4 Mental Patients Killed in Ndola, Zambia for Practicing Witchcraft

Ndola Central HospitalFour elderly people suffering from mental illness and other disorders have been killed so far this year in Ndola, Zambia for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Ndola District Commissioner Rebby Chanda said the Government was concerned with the rising number of elderly people being brutally beaten and killed after being suspected of practicing witchcraft.

Mr. Chanda said the primary response to mental illness was usually fear and avoidance, with accusations of witchcraft. He said this during the World Mental Day commemoration under the theme “Mental Health and Older Adults”, held at Ndola Central Hospital on Thursday.

“Many people suffering dementia have been mistaken for witches resulting in being beaten up. The stigma attached to mental illness sadly dissuades people from seeking treatment, leaving them alone and helpless with a limited hope of recovery,” he said.

Mr. Chanda said many people living with mental illness in Zambia continued to be discriminated against, marginalized and violated because they suffered from mental disorders. He said the Government was aware of the deplorable infrastructure for mentally ill people, adding that K700 million had been set aside for rehabilitating Livingstone General Hospital and Ndola Central Hospital mental health units, and that a mental health unit was being constructed at Solwezi General Hospital considering that North-Western Province had no such health facility.

Chanda urged the media to actively highlight challenges facing mental patients to encourage relevant institutions to tackle the problem at national level.

Acting head of the psychiatric department at Ndola Central Hospital, Mercy Mwansa, said the hospital was trying to offer best health mental services to patients despite inadequate facilities. Ms. Mwansa urged the public to stop stigmatising the elderly people with mental disorder conditions.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Indian Woman Lynched on Suspicion of Practicing Witchcraft

Noose In Tree by ModernVisionsAn elderly woman was lynched in Helem Tea Estate in Assam’s Sonitpur district, India today by some tea garden workers who suspected her of practicing witchcraft .

The 58-year old woman, identified as Martha Hora, was beaten by some tea garden workers who believed that she practiced witchcraft upon several people who had fallen ill recently, police said.

The police have taken four persons into custody in connection with the case.

A section of the residents of the tea garden further alleged that a girl child fell ill and Martha Hora began treating her but she was not cured. The child was later taken to another priest who alleged that Martha Hora had practiced witchcraft upon the child, and this lead the villagers to lynch her to death, the sources added.

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Witch Hunts In The News

Witch Hunts In Papua New Guinea Linked To Jealousy

The Death of Kepari LeniataIt should come as no surprise that the witchcraft related violence in Papua New Guinea is based mostly upon simple human jealousy. Experts say the witch hunting appears to be spreading to parts of the country where those practices never took place before. Those experts, as well as government officials in the South Pacific nation, are at a loss to explain it appears to be growing.

Some argue that the recent violence is fueled not by the nation’s widespread belief in black magic but instead by nothing more than economic jealousy that comes from a mining boom that has widened the country’s economic divide and pitted the haves against the have-nots.

“Jealousy is causing a lot of hatred,” said Helen Hakena, chairwoman of the North Bougainville Human Rights Committee, which is based in the area Rumbali was killed. “People who are so jealous of those who are doing well in life, they resort to what our people believe in, sorcery, to kill them, to stop them continuing their own development.”

Rumbali’s assailants claimed they had clear proof the 40-something former schoolteacher had used sorcery to kill another villager who died of sickness: The victim’s grave bore the marks of black magic, and a swarm of fire flies apparently led witch hunters to Rumbali’s home.

Kepari Leniata, the woman who was burned alive in the photo above.The United Nations has documented hundreds of cases of sorcery-related violence in Papua New Guinea in recent years and many more cases in remote areas are thought to have gone unreported. It found the attacks are often carried out with impunity.

Until last month, the country’s 42-year-old Sorcery Act allowed for a belief in black magic to be used as a partial legal defense for killing someone suspected of inflicting harm through sorcery. The government repealed the law in response to the recent violence.

“There’s no doubt that there are really genuine beliefs there and in some circumstances that is what is motivating people: the belief that if they don’t kill this person, then this person is going to continue to bring death and misfortune and sickness on their village,” said Miranda Forsyth, a lawyer at Australian National University who has studied the issue.

But she said recent cases in Papua New Guinea don’t appear to be motivated by a genuine belief in the occult, but instead are a pretext under which the wealthy can be attacked by poorer neighbors, and, many times, get away with it.

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INDIA: A Mother and Her Son Burnt to Death for Practicing Witchcraft

Pandhurna, Chhindwara District, IndiaINDIA – A mother named Neelu, 25, and her three-year-old son were burned to death on April 2, 2013 in Pandhurna in Chhindwara district. They had been accused of practicing witchcraft by their neighbors, who suspected that the woman was a tonhi (sorceress). Their accusations resulted in the neighbors beating Neelu before they poured kerosene on her and set her and her child on fire.

Immediately after the incident Neelu and her son were rushed to Nagpur for treatment of their injuries, but both died before they could receive treatment. The neighbors who were involved in the attack have been arrested. Those who committed the horrifying crime fled the scene as on-lookers rushed in to help the victims. Police have begun an investigation into the incident.