WUNDANYI, KENYA: A Kenyan governor, John Mruttu, has banned Tanzanian witchcraft and foreign witch doctors from operating in Taita Taveta County, authorities have said. Mruttu has also warned that locals who will be found harbouring them will be arrested and prosecuted.
Scores of people have been killed in the coastal region on suspicion that they were practicing witchcraft with Taita Taveta and Kilifi County the most affected.
“We met and agreed with the county Commissioner Mr Oningoi Ole Sosio that traditional witchdoctors will no longer be allowed to operate in the region. Anyone found harboring or facilitating their movement will be arrested and prosecuted,” Mruttu warned.
Mruttu made his remarks while addressing primary and secondary school heads and school management committees in Voi town during an education conference on Monday. The one day stakeholders’ conference was sponsored by the county government to discuss poor education standards and find lasting solutions to the problems, but apparently seemed like a great opportunity to Mruttu to make declarations about witchcraft. Ironically, the conference was aimed at streamlining standards of educating, identification of special needs placement and inclusion and transforming the county by developing a reading culture.
The meeting found out that widespread belief in witchcraft and practices among residents, sale and consumption of illicit brews and drugs, persistent famine and water shortages, persistent human wildlife conflicts as some of the major development obstacles in the region. However, rather than pass laws regarding the false accusation of witchcraft and the persecution of the accused, Mruttu found it more prudent to ban foreign witch doctors. He noted that witch doctors from the neighboring countries had secretly been invading the region and causing fear among the local community.
“Some have been coming on invitation by the local residents. We want teachers, parents and churches to take the lead in the fight against such outmoded cultural beliefs,” said Mr Mruttu.
A report by Ipsos research carried out last year reveals that Taita Taveta County was leading in terms of witch craft in the Coast region with 11 percent of the residents believing in the tradition. According to the research, ‘Kenya Coast Survey Development, Marginalization, Security and Participating’, Kilifi County is 8 percent while Kwale is third while 7 percent and Mombasa with 1 percent.