Ghana Pentecostals come to the defense of accused witches

In Ghana, superstition is widespread, and its not the only SSA country where people believe in the power of witches, witchdoctors, and witchcraft. The fear which people have for those perceived to be witches may lead to abnormal reactions, as the case below illustrates. A woman was beaten to death just because she was thought to be a witch and accused of irregular rain.

Education is the only means to fight superstition. Meanwhile the rule f law must apply. A government and society cannot tolerate mob justice.
(Webmaster FVDK)

Ghana Pentecostals Come to the Defense of Accused Witches

Published: November 23, 2020
By: Christianity Today, Ghana – Daniel Silliman and Griffin Paul Jackson  

An old woman was killed when she refused to confess to causing irregular rain. Christians had to speak up. 

Pentecostals everywhere sing about the power of Jesus’ name. But in Ghana, they sing specifically that his name is powerful against witches.

More than 90 percent of Ghanaian Christians believe witchcraft is a problem in the country, and more than half have visited a Pentecostal prayer camp to ask for deliverance from witches and demons, according to a study by Opoku Onyinah, theologian and past president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC). The Spirit-empowered churches in the West African country don’t take the issue of witches lightly.

But this summer, the GPCC decided to speak up for the women who are accused of witchcraft. The Pentecostal group, an umbrella organization of 200 denominations and parachurches, called for new laws and a national conversation about how to better take care of the more than 2,000 widows who have been exiled over allegations of working with demons.

The churches decided to make a statement after an elderly Muslim woman in a rural village was beaten to death when she refused to confess to witchcraft. Akua Denteh was accused of causing irregular rain, starting fires, and killing children with supernatural powers. A video of her violent death—as a crowd stood watching—was shared widely around the country, and Christian leaders decided they could no longer be silent.

“The elderly, weak and vulnerable must be targeted for the care and protection of our society,” the GPCC statement said. “We must, at all cost, seek justice for this 90-year-old woman and all those who have suffered such atrocities in the past.”

Onyinah, speaking on a popular radio program, called for laws controlling witch hunts and witch identifications. He added a specific ….. the rest of the article is available for ‘members-only’ (follow the link below)

Source: Ghana Pentecostals Come to the Defense of Accused Witches

South Africa: Acornhoek community marches against alleged ritual killings (2017 article)

The northeastern provinces of South Africa have a bad reputation when it comes to ritualistic activities and murders. Whereas commendable steps have been taken by local authorities to arrest and put on trial those suspected of involvement in these heinous crimes (see my previous postings), still much is left to be desired. This is illustrated by the article reproduced below, dating from 2017, focusing the citizens of Acornhoek in Mpumalanga province. The danger exists that citizens will take the law into their own hand if the authorities fail to react properly. In a country, ruled by the principles of the rule of law, mob justice has no place. Mob justice, however, is an important signal that the legal authorities fall short of the expectations which people justly hold (webmaster FVDK).

Acornhoek community marches against alleged ritual killings

COMMUNITY MEMORANDUM HANDOVER: A memorandum regarding the crime in the communities was submitted to Acornhoek Police Station Commander Colonel Ntwane.

Published: July 11, 2017
By: Letaba Herald –  Refiloe Matome

The community of Acornhoek (consisting of Cottondale, Timbavati, RDP and Plaza View) presented a memorandum to the Acornhoek SAPS regarding crime which is happening within their communities on June 28.

The memorandum presented to the station management in order for them to address the cases of ritual practices and child trafficking that is allegedly taking place within the community.

“As the citizens of this country, we no longer feel safe within our communities and the constitution clearly stated that we all have the right to live freely,” said Ndlovu of The Bushbuckridge Residents Association.

Three incidents were clearly highlighted where they believe victims were unfairly treated and justice was not served. The first being Wilson Mokoena’s case who was killed in Plaza View earlier this year and according to information provided to the Hoedspruit Herald, the suspect is a government official and is well known but no arrests have been made thus far.

“Alfred Madalane was found killed and dumped at an Acornhoek scrap yard with body parts missing, three suspects were arrested after confessing to his killing, but they were later released by the court stating that there was not enough evidence while the perpetrators confessed to his death,” added Ndlovu.

The last case that was presented to the SAPS for query was that of Maluleke who was killed and dumped at Pendulane cross with his blood allegedly drained from his body.

“The above mentioned cases need to be considered, we call upon the station commander to urgently intervene in these cases and all suspects need to be rearrested immediately. We expect to get a respond with immediate effect before the community takes the law into their own hands,” concluded Ndlovu.

Source: Acornhoek community marches against alleged ritual killings

Liberia: woman dies after reportedly taking ‘sassywood’ to clear her innocence from witchcraft allegations

In Liberia, superstition is widespread. On more than one occasion I have written about this phenomenon in the West African country, Africa’s oldest republic, founded in 1847. The most recent occasion was on July 5, 2020 after a girl had been terribly tortured by her siblings who accused her of witchcraft. At the end of July another case which had actually happened in the preceding month was reported.

This time it was linked to an old ritual, trial by ordeal or ‘sassywood ordeal’ as it is called in Liberia. The Liberian government has outlawed the ‘sassywood or sasswood ordeal‘ many, many years ago, but It enacted a law that was never enforced – for various reasons. In 2009 seven people, accused of witchcraft in River Gee County, in the south of the country, died of whom two died from drinking the poison.

On Monday June 27, Sarah Togba, a woman in Gaye Town, in Grand Gedeh County, died after she ‘voluntarily’ took a ‘sassywood’ to prove her innocence after she had been accused of witchcraft causing the death of several persons. I fear that she will not be the last victim of this age-old practice of trial by ordeal, in fact a kind of mob justice. Still in the 21st century the rule of law is not applied in Liberia (webmaster FVDK).   

Liberia: Woman Dies after Reportedly Taking ‘Sassywood’ to Clear her Innocence from Witchcraft Allegations

Published: July 27, 2020
By: Front Page Africa – Lennart Dodoo 

GRAND GEDEH – A woman in Gaye town, Gbarzon District 3 in Grand Gedeh County met her untimely death on Monday, June 27 after she voluntarily took a ‘sassywood’ (trial by ordeal) to prove her innocence of allegations that she has been involved with witchcraft activities and had orchestrated the death of several persons.

Sarah Togba, according to reports gathered by FrontPageAfrica, was accused along with 13 others of being responsible for the death of one Zean Lolee Sayee who died recently in the country. He was 58 years old.

An eyewitness, Albert Thoudou, told FrontPageAfrica that Sayee’s children, during the funeral rites, confessed to being witches and claimed they knew who caused the death of their father. Sarah and 13 others were mentioned, according to the eyewitness.

He explained to FrontPageAfrica that some of those accused verbally denied the allegation, but Sarah who has on many occasions been accused of being a witch, opted to clear her name by voluntarily taking the “sasssywood”.

“By our tradition here, we have a tree in the bush we call the sassywood tree, if you shew the bark of that tree and you’re innocent, nothing will happen to you and if you’re guilty you’ll die. Sarah went into the bush and people saw her coming back with the sassywwod tree in her mouth. But she suddenly fell and died on the spot,” Thoudou explained.

He added, “I witnessed the incident, she was not forced by the elders. She decided to do it herself. She has always been accused of being a witch, so, maybe, she wanted to clear her name once and for all.”

According to him, four of the accused admitted to the allegation prior to Sarah opting for trial by ordeal. The eyewitness further disclosed that six others are on the standby to prove their innocence.

Meanwhile, he disclosed that the children of the deceased who leveled the witchcraft allegation and also claimed to be witches and wizards have cautioned that unless some traditional rites are performed in the town, six other persons would die in similar fashion their father died.

Source: Liberia: Woman Dies after Reportedly Taking ‘Sassywood’ to Clear her Innocence from Witchcraft Allegations

Uganda: mother loses two children to ritual murder

‘Ndyakundwa is confused. She wants justice for her children yet people involved are her family members.’

The involvement of relatives in ritualistic killings goes back to the origin of the age-old practice of human sacrifices, nowadays widely condemned. There is no place for it in the 21st century. ‘Thou shalt not kill‘. The law must take its course. (webmaster FVDK)

Mother loses two to ritual murder

Ndyakundwa at her house in Kibuye, Vuga. She says her children were killed by her relatives

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Glorias Musiime – New Vision, Uganda

MUBENDE- A woman in Kibuye Vuga, Mubende district, says she lost two children in a period of four months to ritual murder last year.

In her statement to the Police at Kiganda in Mubende, Monica Ndyakundwa said her children were killed by her relatives led by her father.

New Vision found Ndyakundwa grazing cattle for a Good Samaritan, who gave her a place to live in after she lost her home.

“I have nowhere else to go. When residents suspected my father and brother of killing my children, they destroyed our house. My father and brother fled and they were arrested later,” she says.

She now stays in a makeshift grass structure only big enough to accommodate two people. Ndyakundwa says her 75-year old father did not act alone.

“There were other two men who could have connived with him to kill my children,” she says.

Her tribulations started when they were still living in Busobwera, Mubende district in May, last year. One morning, her five-year-old son went missing from a house she was sharing with her father Steven Kagyenda and her brother Geoffrey Tagaywa.

Residents banish family

After three days of searching for the boy, residents called off the search and a village meeting banished the family from the area on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance and possible murder of their child.

Kagyenda, a cattle keeper, relocated to Mabare in Kiganda sub-county, about 30km from Busobwera. Being new in the area, neighbours gave them food until they settled down.

Four months later, Ndyakundwa’s other seven-year-old son also disappeared.

“After a search, the boy’s body was found three days later in a plastic drum near our home,” she narrates.

Residents again suspected Kagyenda, whose story of a similar incident in Busobwera was well known.

Kagyenda and the son fled for fear of being lynched by the angry residents. An angry mob destroyed the house and chased the family, including Ndyakundwa, from the village.

A neighbour says she woke up to dig behind her main house and was shocked to find a dead body of a child in a drum near her compound.

“I suspected it was Kagyenda’s grandchild because he was missing. But when I rushed to tell him, Kagyenda was not moved.

He seemed unbothered. He only asked me if the child was dead or alive. He did not even try to find out,” she says.

She made an alarm which attracted residents. According to the investigating officer, Charles Ngobi, the body was dismembered and legs, tongue and chin were missing.

A report says blood was scooped from the body. Ndyakundwa says the second incident convinced her that her father was involved in the murder of her children.

“That night when my son disappeared, we had received visitors; two men who came from Sembabule. They left early at 4:30am. I suspect those two men connived with my father to murder my child,” she says.

The Police at Kiganda arrested Kagyenda, his son Tagaywa and four others; Kato David, Kellen Kembabazi, Sam Kato and Nyakojo on murder charges. They appeared in court in Mubende.

However, the Police in Kassanda says only Kato and Nyakojo are still being held on murder charges. The other suspects were released for lack of evidence.

The Police fear that Ndyakundwa could be hurt by her family members to kill the evidence.

They say she needed to be protected and that is why they brought her to Kibuye, Vuga.

Source: Mother loses two to ritual murder

Mubende District, Uganda

Mali: another ritual murder in Fana

The town of Fana has a bad reputation. Reportedly, in less than four years, eight ritual murders have been committed in this small town, located some 80 miles (125 km) from the nation’s capital Bamako. This time the victim was a retired soldier, who was brutally murdered. In the night of June 9 to 10 (Tuesday – Wednesday), the murderer or murderers attacked him in his house and sliced his throat savagely. Bakary Sagaré was 50+ years old when he died. 

Was it really a ritual murder? The authorities have not disclosed any details on his untimely and cruel death. Hence, no motive is known. But the inhabitants of Fana are fed up with these cruel murders. They point at certain well-known witch doctors (féticheurs) who are suspected of being involved in these atrocious acts which claim the lives of innocent people, sometimes small children. Like little Djeneba Diarra, a 5-year old albino girl who was snatched from her mother and brutally killed for ritualistic purposes in 2018.

If the authorities fail to apprehend the killers, the danger exists that the population will take the law into their own hands, but mob justice may aggravate Mali’s numerous problems. In the north and centre of the country, terrorists and Tuareg separatists have been challenging the authority of the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK) since the disastrous military coup of captain Sanogo in 2012. Recently, a huge manifestation in Bamako showed the dissatisfaction and anger of the population, tired of the growing insecurity in the country. The growing unpopularity of the once very popular Keita may even further endanger Mali’s political stability. Rumors about an intervention of the military have already started to circulate. Certainly interesting developments which merit to be monitored closely. in the meantime, the inhabitants of Fana hope that the criminals responsible for the murder of Bakary Sagaré will be arrested and put on trial.

The original articles are in French and are shown below (webmaster FVDK). 

Crime rituel : une pratique à la vie dure à Fana
Ritual murder: a persistent phenomenon in Fana
Published: June 11, 2020
By: Bamada.net – Le Mali dans le Web

Les habitants de la ville de Fana se sont encore réveillés avec un crime devant leur porte, l’assassinat Bakary Sangaré âgé de plus de 50 ans. C’est un militaire à la retraite, dit-on. Il a été égorgé chez lui dans la nuit de ce mardi au mercredi 10 juin. C’est le 8e crime du genre dans cette ville où la petite albinos a été également tuée. Pour l’instant, aucune information officielle n’est donnée sur les raisons de ce crime, sur son ou ses auteurs. En attendant sur Facebook, la nouvelle endeuille et les messages de compassion et de condoléances pleuvent.

Pour d’autres, c’est l’occasion d’en finir définitivement avec cette pratique. Et pour cela, l’État doit s’assurer en prenant en main la sécurité de la population. Ces actes montrent combien, les populations sont exposées face à des bandits, à des auteurs de crimes rituels. Pour eux, c’est un signe de la faillite de l’Etat face à sa responsabilité de protéger les populations et de leurs biens. Encore, c’est la faute aux autorités incompétentes et corrompues, pestent de nombreux internautes.

En revanche, d’autres estiment que c’est un travail qui doit se faire en synergie entre la population et les autorités pour venir à bout de ces actes cruels dans cette ville. Parce qu’ils accusent que ce sont des charlatans connus de tous dans la ville qui sont à la base de ce crime.

(….)

Comments of readers / Commentaires des lecteurs :

Konimba Sidibé : Fana dans le cercle de Dioila au Mali en deuil à nouveau : les coupeurs de têtes ont encore sévi hier soir pour la huitième fois en moins de 4 ans (dont le cas de Ramata la petite albinos arrachée des mains de sa maman à leur domicile). Bakary Sangare est leur nouvelle victime.
Peu de progrès ont été faits dans l’identification et le châtiment des criminels et leurs complices : les populations doutent fortement que l’Etat ait pris le problème au sérieux et se sentent abandonnées à leur triste sort. Cri de cœur pour libérer Fana de cette insécurité morbide !!! Que l’âme des victimes repose en paix.

Yacouba Aliou Toure : C’est une honte pour le monde du troisième millénaire. Dans la loi islamique, la sentence pour le magicien de couper sa tête à l’épée. Il ne sera pas enseveli, il n’est pas aussi enterré dans le cimetière des musulmans. La magie est la chose la plus horrible sur la Terre. Qu’Allah nous en garde. Amine.

LASSINA DEMBELE ALÉAS TEACHER : une situation séculaire insaisissable depuis la nuit des temps à Fana et environnants… Ce crime crapuleux perpétré hier à Fana le 09/06/2020 ; le corps d’un homme sans vie a été retrouvé décapité par des personnes non identifiées. Ce n’est pas une première fois que ces genres de scènes scandaleuses et hystériques se passent encore à fana semant la panique et de la désolation à la population civile de fana et environnant. Cette situation reste sans solution depuis des décennies à Fana. Les autorités compétentes judiciaires et la population civile de la ville doivent conjuguer leurs forces afin de mettre la lumière sur les Criminels auteurs de ces crimes crapuleux de Coupeurs des têtes.

Zanze Bouare : triste comme nouvelle, on doit sévir contre ces criminels. Il n’y a pas d’autorité au Mali.

Dramane Kélépily : l’arrivée de la police n’a rien servi à Fana que Dieu bénisse la ville et qu’il fasse démasquer les coupables, Paix à l’âme du disparu. Honte aux autorités incompétentes et corrompues !!

Bourama Keita : Sans la collaboration de la population, les autorités ne peuvent rien faire. Tous unis, nous pourrons mettre fin à ça. Mes sincères condoléances aux familles des disparus.

Mamadou Barry : Tout le monde sait que ce n’est pas un terroriste qui a commis le forfait. C’est bien un charlatan. Ils sont connus de tous à Fana. Paix à son âme.

Bafing Sangaré : la question que je voulais savoir, c’est pourquoi toujours à Fana ? La situation est de plus en plus inquiétante vraiment…

Awa Sidibé : Il y a certainement à Fana des tueurs protégés qui ne craignent rien d’où ces crimes à répétitions.

Abdoul Karim Niambélé : C’est triste. Je compatis à la douleur des parents des victimes. Que le Tout Puissant les accueille parmi ses Élus dans son paradis. Et pendant ce temps, on crie sous tous les toits que nous sommes en sécurité. Que Dieu sauve le Mali.

Thomas Seydou Doumbia : Allah akbar, paix a son âme. Je remarque à chaque fois qu’il y a un événement politique, il aboutit à un crime à Fana à nous de chercher la vraie raison.

Molière Sidibé : Vraiment, c’est dépassé, il est temps qu’il y ait une implication avec rigueur pour mettre fin à ces drames.

Tidiani Konate : En réalité, le Mali vit actuellement dans une situation d’impasse. Notre sort dépend de notre visibilité, notre mobilité, car les membres de ce gouvernement ne se soucient plus des peuples, mais seulement de leurs places. Que Dieu libère Banico en particulier et le Mali en général.

Dioba Dembélé : vraiment, on va de mal en pis, il faut que la population s’implique davantage au côté des autorités pour la sécurité définitive de la zone.

Abdoulaye S. Dembele : Dioba Dembélé, penses-tu que la population ainsi que les autorités veulent la fin de cette barbarie ? J’en doute. Sinon, on n’allait pas arriver là.

Another article on the same murder:

Crime odieux à Fana (Cercle de Diola) : Un ancien militaire décapité dans son domicile
A heinous crime in Fana, Diola Cercle: a retired soldier beheaded in his residence
Published: June 11, 2020
By: Bamada.net – Le Mali dans le Web – Abdoul Karim Sanogo

Au Mali, principalement dans les localités de Fana (cercle de Diola), les coupeurs de tête pour des rituels humains ne cessent de surprendre la paisible population par ces actes démoniaques. Cette fois, c’est un homme d’âge avancé du nom de Bakary Sangaré, (ancien militaire) qui a été décapité dans son domicile. Cet acte barbare et lâche s’est passé dans la nuit du mardi 10 juin au 11 juin dernier dans la même localité de Fana dans le cercle de Diola.

En effet, la population de la ville de Fana s’est réveillée avec une mauvaise nouvelle. Suite à la découverte macabre du corps sans vie d’un ancien militaire du nom de Bakary Sangaré, qui a été froidement assassiné. Les malfrats ont tranché sa tête de la manière la plus cynique, avant d’abandonner le reste du corps. Selon les témoignages des habitants, le défunt Bakary, ancien militaire qui vivait seul chez lui a été froidement tué par des hommes inconnus. (Huitième fois en moins de 4 ans dont le cas de Ramata la petite albinos arrachée des mains de sa maman à leur domicile).

Une enquête est ouverte par les forces locales en collaboration avec le juge d’instruction de Fana pour traquer les malfrats et leurs complices continuent à semer la terreur et la psychose dans la ville de Fana. Face à cette situation (…)

The same article, by the same author Abdul Karim Sanogo, was published by the Malian daily MaliKonokow. The link follows here (webmaster FVDK). 

Mali:
Crime odieux à Fana (Cercle de Diola) un ancien militaire décapité dans son domicile !
A heinous crime in Fana, Diola Cercle: a retired soldier beheaded in his residence!
Published: June 11, 2020
By: MaliKonokow – Abdul Karim Sanogo

Au Mali, principalement dans les localités de Fana (cercle de Diola), les coupeurs de tête pour des rituels humains ne cessent de surprendre la paisible population par ces actes démoniaques. Cette fois, c’est un homme d’âge avancé du nom de Bakary Sangaré, (ancien militaire) qui a été décapité dans son domicile. Cet acte barbare et lâche s’est passé dans la nuit du mardi 10 juin au 11 juin dernier dans la même localité de Fana dans le cercle de Diola.

(Etc)

Another article on the same murder, dated June 10, 2020:

Crime odieux à Fana : Un ancien militaire égorgé chez lui
Heinous crime in Fana: a retired soldier brutally killed at his home
Published: June 10, 2020
By: Mali Jet – Gaoussou Kanté

Les populations de la paisible ville de Fana ont eu un réveil brutal. Ce matin, suite à la découverte macabre du corps sans vie d’un ancien militaire du nom de Bakary Sangaré, qui a été froidement assassiné. En effet, les malfrats ont tranché sa tête de la manière la plus cynique, avant d’abandonner le reste du corps.

D’après les témoignages des habitants, le défunt Bakary, ancien militaire qui vivait seul chez lui a été froidement tué par des hommes inconnus.

Quant à la gendarmerie de Fana, les responsables ont affirmé ne vouloir rien dire avant la fin des enquêtes.

«Pour l’instant, nous ne pouvons rien dire à qui que ce soit avant la fin des enquêtes. Nous sommes sur les enquêtes en collaboration avec le juge d’instruction de Fana. Nous attendons que tous les éléments soient réunis pour nous prononcer sur cette affaire. Tout ce que je peux vous dire, c’est que nous avons constaté le cadavre d’un homme comme vous le voyez sur les réseaux sociaux et les enquêtes sont en cours», a déclaré le Capitaine de la Brigade gendarmerie à Fana.

A suivre !

The Malian daily Mali Actu published the same text. It is not known which article appeared first, maybe Mali Jet’s article, which has been reproduced above, signed with the author’s name, Gaoussou Kanté (webmaster FVDK).

Crime odieux à Fana : un ancien militaire égorgé chez lui
Heinous crime in Fana: a retired soldier brutally killed at his home
Published: June 10, 2020
By: Mali Actu

Les populations de la paisible ville de Fana ont eu un réveil brutal. Ce matin, suite à la découverte macabre du corps sans vie d’un ancien militaire du nom de Bakary Sangaré, qui a été froidement assassiné. En effet, les malfrats ont tranché sa tête de la manière la plus cynique, avant d’abandonner le reste du corps.

(Etc)

The town of Fana has a special, bad reputation in Mali. In less than four years, eight suspected cases of ritual murders occurred in this small town, located half-way between the nation’s capital Bamako and Ségou.

Another muti murder in South Africa? Child murder accused described as ‘quiet and reserved’

Warning: some of the articles below contain graphic details of the crime (webmaster FVDK).

Child murder accused described as ‘quiet and reserved’

Amanda Zitho, L, the mother of Mzwandile Zitho, 05, who was killed in Orange Farm about 2 weeks ago. PHOTO : ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

Published: April 29, 2020
By: The Sowetan – Tankiso Makhetha

The woman accused of killing a five-year-old boy whose body was found in a local tavern has been described as a quiet and reserved person.

This was a sentiment shared by community members at Mzwandile Zitho’s funeral yesterday in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg.

Mzwandile was allegedly murdered by Pontso Mohlanka who appeared in the Vereeniging magistrate’s court yesterday where she is facing a charge of murder.

Her matter was postponed until May 15 when her bail application is expected to be heard. The matter was also postponed to allow the state to verify Mohlanka’s nationality with the department of home affairs.

She was initially arrested with her partner and tavern owner, who was not formally charged due to insufficient evidence.

“We are still dumbstruck by what happened. It’s hard to make sense of the whole thing because she is the last person who we thought would be charged for Wandi’s murder,” said Petunia Nkwanyane, a resident in the area.

She spoke to Sowetan at Mzwandile’s Orange Farm home, moments after his burial. The deceased’s home is just across the street from the tavern where the body was discovered on April 15.

The tavern house, now a crime scene, is sealed off with police tape.

Mzwandile’s body was found in an upright position in a fridge, with his hands and feet tied.

According to residents, he also had a red rope around his neck which had small packets containing a powdery substance.

“The only time we saw anyone there was when the tavern owner’s sister came to fetch something while the couple was in jail. We know that the owner was released from jail but we don’t know where he is,” Nkwanyane said.

Another neighbour, Phindi Majola, said Mzwandile’s mysterious death had enraged the community which wanted to burn down the tavern.

“Everyone was upset because of the way Mzwandile was killed. People wanted to burn the house when the police were done with their work because they suspected that Mzwandile was killed in a muthi ritual,” Majola said.

She said she was familiar with Mohlanka, with whom she interacted while peeling vegetables at homes preparing for funerals in the area.

“She is so quiet and shy. I am familiar with her; we talk a lot when we peel vegetables for funerals here,” she said.

Mzwandile was buried at De Deur Memorial Park near Vereeniging. His distraught father, Simphiwe Mosala, said: “I just want to know why he was killed. He was an innocent boy who had so much potential. We want justice; we are also grateful to everyone who has shown us support.”

Source: Child murder accused described as ‘quiet and reserved’

Related articles:

Woman charged after senseless killing of five-year-old boy

Five-year old Mzwandile Zitho was reported missing by his grandmother on Wednesday. 
Image: Supplied

Published: April 20, 2020
By: The Sowetan – Tankiso Makhetha

A woman has been charged with the murder of a five-year-old boy who was found killed in a tavern in Orange Farm last week.

Pontso Mohlanka appeared in the Vereeniging regional court on Monday where she was charged with Mzwandile Zitho’s murder.

Phindi Mjonondwane, the National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson said the matter was postponed until Wednesday for further investigations.

“The matter was also postponed to set a date for the bail application hearing,” Mjonondwane said.

The woman was arrested along with her husband at the tavern, which is located less than 30 metres from Zitho’s home.

“Charges against the man were not placed on the roll as there is currently no prima facie case against him,” she said.

Zitho was found in an upright position with his legs tied and a red rope around his neck in what his family believes was a muthi killling.

Zitho’s grandmother Nompumelelo Zitho previously told Sowetan how she frantically searched for her grandson last Wednesday with the tavern owner allegedly telling her not to worry when she asked him if he had seen Mzwandile.

“I was worried sick because I didn’t know where he was. I started searching for him and asked the owner of the tavern if he had seen Wandi and he said no. He said Wandi was a smart boy and would return home,” she recalled Wednesday’s events.

Zitho said the tavern owner assisted them to search for Mzwandile and went as far as sending one of his employees into a neighbouring township.

“He was telling me not to go to the police station and that we would find Wandi by the end of the day. He was so reassuring, but I was concerned and wanted to find my grandson,” she said.

Zitho said after several hours of searching, she then went to the police station to report Mzwandile missing.”Four hours after our conversations, I was shocked when I arrived at the police station to report Wandi missing, only to find him [tavern owner] there. 

“He told us that he had found Wandi’s body in his tavern and did not know how it got there,” Zitho said.

“I feel betrayed because he was one of the first people to start a search party for Wandi when I told him he was missing.

“He didn’t tell me that my grandson was in his tavern the whole time we were looking for him. He said he also didn’t know that Wandi was there.”

Zitho said she was heartbroken because she raised Mzwandile since he was five months old. She recalled the condition in which they found Mzwandile’s body.

“He was standing upright, there was a red rope with small papers containing powdery substances attached to it. His legs were also tied with a handkerchief with a small bottle containing white muthi attached to it.

“It is as if he was a sacrifice.”He was an active child and full of energy. He would say to me that he wanted to be a priest because he was tired of seeing me take a taxi to church. He said he would take me to church with his own car.”

Source: Woman charged after senseless killing of five-year-old boy

and:

Tavern owner and wife arrested for boy’s murder

Nompumelelo Zitho , the grandmother of 5 year old child, Mwzandile Zitho, killed in Orange Farm, Johannesburg . PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

Published: April 20, 2020
By: The Sowetan Live, South Africa – Tankiso Makhetha 

The tavern owner who helped the family of a five-year-old boy to search for him after he went missing last week has been arrested for the child’s murder.

Mzwandile Zitho’s grandmother Nompumelelo Zitho recalled how she frantically searched for her grandson in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, on Wednesday with the tavern owner allegedly telling her not to worry when she asked him if he had seen Mzwandile.

“I was worried sick because I didn’t know where he was. I started searching for him and asked the owner of the tavern if he had seen Wandi and he said no. He said Wandi was a smart boy and would return home,” she recalled Wednesday’s events.

Zitho said the tavern owner assisted them to search for Mzwandile and went as far as sending one of his employees into a neighbouring township.

“He was telling me not to go to the police station and that we would find Wandi by the end of the day. He was so reassuring, but I was concerned and wanted to find my grandson,” she said.

Zitho said after hours of searching, she then went to the police station to report Mzwandile missing.

“Four hours after our conversations, I was shocked when I arrived at the police station to report Wandi missing, only to find him [tavern owner] there. He told us that he had found Wandi’s body in his tavern and did not know how it got there,” Zitho said.

Mzwandile was found in an upright position with his legs tied and a red rope around his neck in what his family believes was a muthi killling.

Provincial police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said the tavern owner’ and his wife were arrested on Friday and are expected to appear in the Vereeniging magistrate’s court today on charges of kidnapping and murder.

“I feel betrayed because he was one of the first people to start a search party for Wandi when I told him he was missing.

“He didn’t tell me that my grandson was in his tavern the whole time we were looking for him.

“He said he also didn’t know that Wandi was there.”

Zitho said she was heartbroken because she raised Mzwandile since he was five months old.

She recalled the condition in which they found Mzwandile’s body.

Source: Tavern owner and wife arrested for boy’s murder

and:

Boy’s body found in Orange Farm tavern fridge

Published: April 17, 2020
By: The Sowetan Live, South Africa – Tankiso Makhetha 

A five-year-old boy was found dead in a tavern in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, on Wednesday, in what his family and community suspect was a muti-related murder.

Mzwandile Zitho was reported missing by his grandmother on the same day.

Residents said they were shocked by the gruesome discovery of his body in a fridge.

Anna Makhubu, who was one of the first people to enter the tavern where Mzwandile’s body was found, said: “His grandmother said she grew worried when she could not find him around the yard at 10am. She said he was still in his pyjamas when he went missing.

“She asked the tavern owner, who lives across from them, if he had seen Mzwandile. He said no. But she was shocked to find him at the police station as well.”

According to Makhubu, the tavern owner told the police he did not know how the boy’s body ended up on his property.

“He said he doesn’t know how the body got there and wanted to help. When we got there we found Mzwandile naked, standing in an upright position. His hands and feet were bound. There was muthi bottles and a handkerchief that had small ropes in it.”

Makhubu said she was heartbroken as she raised Mzwandile since he was five months old.

“He was an active child and full of energy. He would say to me that he wanted to be a priest because he was tired of seeing me take a taxi to church. He said he would take me to church in his own car.”

ANC branch chairperson in the area, Macy Monageng, said: “We are hurt because we are in a lockdown and then this happens. We thought children and women abuse would end in this situation but clearly not. The law needs to take its course.”

Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said they were investigating a case of murder and that no arrests have been made.

Source: Boy’s body found in Orange Farm tavern fridge

and:

Boy found dead in tavern fridge

Five-year old Mzwandile Zitho was reported missing by his grandmother on Wednesday. 

Published: April 16, 2020
By: The Sowetan Live – Tankiso Makhetha 

A five-year-old boy was found dead in a tavern in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg on Wednesday in what the community suspects was a muthi-related murder.

Mzwandile Zitho was reported missing by his grandmother on the same day. Community members said they were shocked by the gruesome discovery.

Anna Makhubu, who was one of the first people to enter the tavern where Zitho’s body was found, said: “His grandmother said she grew worried when she could not find him around the yard at 10am”. 

She said he was still in his pyjamas when he went missing. Makhubu added: “She asked the tavern owner, who lives across from them, if he had seen Mzwandile. He said no. But she was shocked to find him at the police station as well.”

According to Makhubu, the tavern owner told the police he did not know how the boy’s body ended up on his property.

“He said he doesn’t know how the body got there and wanted to help. When we got there we found Mzwandile naked, standing in an upright position. His hands and feet were bound. There was muthi bottles and a handkerchief that had small ropes in it,” she said.

Macy Monageng, ANC branch chairperson in the area, said: “We are hurt because we in a lockdown and then this happens… a naked boy in a fridge? We thought child and woman abuse would end in this situation but clearly not. The law needs to take its course.”Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said they were investigating a case of murder.

Source: Boy found dead in tavern fridge

South Africa – Provinces

Ghana: women accused of witchcraft find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Ghana has a fairly good reputation, both on the African continent and beyond. This positive reputation mainly applies to the state of the economy and the country’s political affairs. (This has not always been the case. Notably in the 1970s Ghana offered a very different outlook. It is thanks to flight-lieutenant-turned-president Jerry J. Rawlings – and the two Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI), World Bank and the IMF – that Ghana nowadays is what it is).
However, superstition is rampant in the country. I drew attention to it at earlier occasions. See my posting on the work of Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Seamus Mirodan, both fighting infanticide in Ghana as well as Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria (June 4, 2018), and the activities of Seth Kwame Boateng and Jospeh Asakibeem (June 23, 2018), also fighting ritual baby killing in this West African country.

The article below treats the fate of women who are accused of witchcraft, sometimes triggered by jealousy and criminal intentions, sometimes based on superstition and a belief in the supernatural powers which the victims of the repression and mob justice are supposed to possess. Fortunately, the women are being rescued  by a group of benevolent nuns, but shouldn’t it be better if these age-old practices and belief in witchcraft cease to exist? (webmaster FVDK).

Women accused of witchcraft in Ghana find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Vivian Salamatu, outside her house, relates how she escaped death from angry villagers who had accused her of killing her brother-in-law. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Published: April 13, 2020
By: Global Sisters report – Doreen Ajiambo

GUSHEGU, GHANA — Vivian Salamatu and 200 hundred other women here are bound together for life. They share each other’s misfortunes and all have a similar story. They were accused of witchcraft, beaten, cast out and sent to “witch camps” that serve as havens.

“When my nephew died after a short illness, everyone hated me,” Salamatu explains in Dagbani, her native language. “My brothers-in-law said I was responsible, they accused me of being a witch.”

Dozens of elders and villagers gathered at her home to determine her innocence or guilt. One of the elders participating in the ritual test grabbed a chicken, slit its throat and flung it overhead. After it finished struggling, the chicken fell head first and died face down.

It was clear by the village standard she was a witch.

“If the chicken had died face up, then I would have been declared innocent of witchcraft,” said Salamatu, 39, a mother of three. “That night, villagers led by my brothers-in-law attacked me with machetes and set fire to my house. They wanted to kill me with my children.”

Her attackers, who had tied her up with a rope, were intercepted by nuns and local authorities. She was rescued with her children and taken to Gushegu “witch camp,” located in the north of the country.

One of the mud huts where women accused of practicing witchcraft live in the Gushegu camp of northern Ghana (Doreen Ajiambo)

“I can’t believe I’m alive today,” she said, noting that the allegations came barely a year after losing her husband in a road accident. “I had no one to protect me from the angry villagers. But I want to thank God and the sisters who came and rescued me. It was a miracle!”

Salamatu is among hundreds of women who have been rescued by the Missionary Sisters of the Poorest of the Poor and taken to Gushegu. The refuge, which is run by Sr. Ruphina Anosike and other sisters, provides homes to women accused of witchcraft. Anosike also cares for the homeless by providing meals and other necessities such as medical care and education for their children.

The immense majority of these women are widows with children. They have been accused by relatives, or sometimes by a competing wife, neighbors or village elders, of witchcraft, mainly of killing their husbands or other family members, said Anosike.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that these women suspected to be witches are no longer needed in their families and communities,” she said, noting that her camp, which accommodates more than 200 women, has become a safe haven for widows accused of witchcraft. “They stay here because they have no place to go, no food to eat, and no one cares for them.”

The motive to call someone a witch

Anosike notes that the chief motive behind such acts is often greed, and labeling these women as witches becomes a means of taking away their husbands’ wealth. Camp residents also include mentally ill women and children who are considered outcasts in Ghana, she said.

Salamatu agreed there is a motive.

“My father-in-law wanted to take cows, land and some money that my husband had left, and I refused,” she said, adding that her husband’s relatives became hostile to her and toward her children. “They later accused me of practicing witchcraft so that I could be chased away and leave them everything. One of my neighbors told me they held a meeting to discuss how they could chase me away so that they would be able to take my properties.”

Thousands of women and their children in northern Ghana have been left homeless after being accused of witchcraft, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. State Department. The report indicates that there are more than six witch camps spread throughout the northern region, holding 2,000-2,500 adult women and 1,000-1,200 children.

There is a widespread belief in witchcraft in the West African nation, according to 2009 Gallupsurveys, despite 96% of the population declaring themselves to be active worshippers in one of several world religions. The belief in the phenomenon has devastating consequences. Elderly women believed to be witches are often persecuted, ousted from their homes or even murdered. Their children are also cursed and not allowed to go back home after they have grown.

Though both men and women can be accused of witchcraft, the vast majority are women. Men are considered to have a strong socio-political base and are therefore better able to successfully contest the accusations leveled against them, knowledgeable observers say.

The witch camps are unique to northern Ghana. However, the West African nation shares with other African countries an endemic belief in witchcraft, with drought, death, poor harvest, illness and other natural disasters blamed on black magic.

Screenshot of the GSR video of sisters and women at the Gushegu camp in northern Ghana (credit: Doreen Ajiambo). Click on the picture in the original article (see source below) to watch the video.

The situation has prompted religious sisters in this part of the country to provide residential shelter for the women and children shunned by relatives. Anosike depends on supporters to build homes at the camp and she pleads for food, clothing, bedding and other necessities from neighbors and passers-by.

“I actually go out every morning to beg for food for these women to ensure they have something to eat,” said Anosike. “The bishop also helps us very much, especially with food and money to run the camp. These women also survive by collecting firewood, selling little bags of peanuts or working in nearby farms.”

A superstition that sticks

Witchcraft is a stubborn phenomenon in African cultures, experts say. Witches and wizards are thought to possess intrinsic and supernatural powers that are used to create evil. Many seek out the services of witchdoctors and wizards to find solutions for their relationships, troubles and even for good health. However, the practice has for years also had its negative side. In worst-case scenarios, such beliefs lead to murder and destruction of the accused witches, they said.

“The belief in witchcraft is deeply entrenched in Africa culture and dictates people’s lives,” said Charles Nzioka, a professor of sociology at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. “Witchcraft is in people’s minds. If someone loses a job, Westerners assume that it’s due to economic conditions or poor performance. An African is likely to say that someone used witchcraft to make or confuse an employer to hate and sack the person concerned.”

Nzioka said that the belief in witchcraft in Africa is intended to keep order in society; any deviation in behavior may lead to an allegation. As in Ghana, women who do not want to conform to society’s expectations may fall victim to the accusations of witchcraft, he said.

“For instance, when a woman accumulates wealth and becomes independent, she deviates from local norms that recognize only men to own wealth, and as such she becomes a target,” said Nzioka. “Sometimes women are targeted by relatives of the husbands in order to inherit their son’s wealth.”

Nato Blenjuo, who has lived at Gushegu camp for the last two decades, explained how she escaped death by a whisker after villagers claimed she had used witchcraft to kill her ailing husband. A post-mortem was reportedly held, establishing that her husband died of malaria, she said. Malaria has continued to be the leading cause of death in the country, according to 2018 data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“They really wanted to kill me,” said the 66-year-old widow who lives in one of the huts made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow’s urine. “My stepson led other irate villagers with machetes to attack me at night. They set my house on fire, but I was lucky to escape with my three children into a nearby bush and I made my way to this camp.”

Srs. Ruphina Anosike, left, and Monica Yahaya, second from right, help sort out the grains that had been swept from the market by women accused of witchcraft in Ghana. These women survive by collecting firewood, selling little bags of peanuts or working in nearby farms. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Sr. Monica Yahaya said that women are seen as the most vulnerable members of the population and are therefore often labeled as witches because of their inability to contest the accusations. This explains why there are no men at the camps and women are predominantly the victims, she said.

“The problem here is that relatives cannot allow widows to inherit their husband’s possessions,” said Yahaya, who works with Anosike at Gushegu camp. “They will definitely look for a reason to accuse them and then send them away from their homes in order to take properties left by their dead husbands. Without a husband, these women really have no way to defend themselves after such an accusation.”

Osei Ekow, an elder, denies that greed is the impetus behind calling someone a witch. He says the villagers rely on the traditional slain chicken ritual to determine whether a woman is a witch.

“That’s our culture, and we must respect it,” said Ekow, 75, who says he has witnessed tens of thousands of widows being sent away from their homes. “There’s no way that ritual can be wrong. These women taking refuge at the camps are all witches because it was culturally confirmed.”

The government has on several occasions tried in vain to close down the camps in a bid to discourage attacks on women. Officials contend the very existence of witch camps encourages people to levy allegations of witchcraft knowing that the women they accuse will find refuge at the camps.

“People should stop accusing and harassing innocent women of witchcraft,” said Issah Mahmudu, a government official who oversees the Legal Aid Department in northern Ghana. “We want to encourage suspected witches and wizards who have been harassed to report to the police so that investigations begin. The law protects every citizen.”

Mahmudu said the incidents of witchcraft accusations have recently declined but encouraged local chiefs to dispel outdated cultural practices that are injurious to others.

“These women are vulnerable, that’s the reason they are attacked,” he said. “The chiefs should arrest any person committing offenses that are recognized under the law. The laws of this country condemn dehumanizing the fundamental human rights of all citizens.”

Anosike and other sisters are trying to shape the way people think about witchcraft. They conduct weekly seminars in various villages to campaign against ongoing violence on women, educate the public about the myths that surround witchcraft, rehabilitate and reintegrate women into their homes, and call for an end to the persecution of alleged witches and to superstition.

“Cases of women being chased away from their homes have of late been reduced as a result of the ongoing campaign, but more needs to be done,” she said. “We are going to continue educating people in the villages to ensure women live freely without fear of their rights being abused due to the belief in witchcraft.”

However, victims of the attacks call for more to be done.

“I have never been a witch, I don’t know how witchcraft works,” said Salamatu. “Men should treat us with dignity because we are all human beings created in the image of God.”

A child stands outside her mother’s hut house at Gushegu camp. Her mother was accused of killing her husband. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Source: Women accused of witchcraft in Ghana find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Districts in Northern Ghana (in the northeast: Gushiegu District)

Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom State for beheading woman for ritual purpose (Nigeria)

The following report, see below, is a bit fuzzy but nevertheless I want to share it with you. The chief perpetrator of the heinous act, who was caught, may not have been fully responsible for his deed because of his (unstable) mental state (but this is up to the judges to rule) and not all details are clear or have been confirmed by the authorities, however, the youth who supported the police which led to the arrest of the suspects merits to be applauded. A good example of how it should be – no mob justice, but the rule of law! (webmaster FVDK).

Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom for beheading woman for ritual purpose

Published: March 8, 2020
By:  Vanguard Nigeria – Harris Emanuel

Tragedy struck at the weekend at Oku Abak community in Abak Council Area of Akwa Ibom, as a woman simply identified as Eka Sammy was reportedly beheaded in her farm and the head dumped in front of her house.

Vanguard gathered that the woman fondly called Mma Iko Mbakara was ambushed in her farm while harvesting cassava by a young man, one Lucky Michael from Delta State, working hands in gloves with three others.

An eyewitness account averred that the suspect was caught by the irate youth of the community when he dumped the head of the woman in front of her house and immediately stripped himself naked before taking the youth to the farm where the lifeless body of the woman was found.

One Augustine Ekwere said, ‘’the youth of this village caught him and called on the police after their own assessment. The police then arrested his and his accomplices.

Continuing, Ekwere said the suspect confessed to the crime at Abak Police Station, saying that a prophetess contracted him for a fee of N15, 000 to bring human head for rituals.

According to him, although the suspect did not mention the name of the prophetess, he had already received the cash payment to carry out the dastard acts.

‘’At the Police station, the boy confessed to beheading the woman in the farm because he was paid a N150, 000 by a prophetess to do so. I fear that such crime is coming to my community, my stress and our house’’, he said.

Police Public Relations Officer, Fredrick Nnudam, Chief Superintendent of Police confirmed the incident and applauded the youth of the community for supporting the Police which led to the arrest of the suspect and his cohorts.

The PPRO who did not mention the number of suspects arrested hinted that the matter was being investigated at the Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpanabia, but source informed our reporter that about four suspects were nabbed by the police.

‘’I am in a picture. A woman was beheaded in the farm on Saturday while working there. Some youth joined the police to comb the bush and some suspects were arrested.

‘’I can’t give you the exact figures, but some persons were arrested especially the principal suspect’’, he said. 

On whether the prophetess allegedly said to have masterminded the killing for ritual purpose has been arrested, he said, ‘’as at now information is still sketchy but investigation is ongoing, so, I can’t say if somebody like that is involved.’’

Source: Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom for beheading woman for ritual purpose

Related article:

Suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman in Akwa Ibom

Published: March 8, 2020
By: Vanguard Nigeria – Chioba Onuegbu – Uyo

TRAGEDY struck last Saturday in Akwa Ibom state as suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman popularly known as Mma Iko Mbakara in Ibesit community in Oruk Anam local government area of the state.

It was gathered that the unsuspecting octogenarian was ambushed in her farm in Ibesit, Oruk Anam while she was harvesting cassava.

A reliable source in Abak local government area who spoke to Vanguard in confidence yesterday said the news of the sad incident filtered through the whole Abak town early Sunday morning.

“Actually the incident happened in Ibesit community in Oruk Anam local government area, but the principal suspect is from Oku Abak, in Abak local government area. I learned that the police have already arrested him and his accomplices. ”

I was told this morning (Sunday morning) that the principal suspect identified as Lucky Michael and his accomplices have been arrested by the police”, he simply added.

An eyewitness identified as Ekwere said Michael was caught by the youths of Oku Abak community who stripped him naked before asking him to take them to the farm where he committed the crime.

Ekwere added that the youths later called the police to arrest him and his accomplices, adding that it was at the Abak Police station that he (Michael) confessed that he was paid the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira ( N150,000.00) to bring a human head for ritual.

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, CSP, Frederick Nnudam confirmed the incident, noting that some suspects however have been arrested in connection with the crime.

The PPRO who did not mention the number of suspected arrested said, “The story is true. Some of the suspects have been arrested and the head of the woman was also recovered. “The principal suspect one Lucky Michael was in possession of the head of the 82-year-old woman. The matter is under investigation”

Source: Suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman in Akwa Ibom

Map of Nigeria showing Akwa Ibom State

Four burnt to death after ritual killing in Edo State, Nigeria

The following reproduced article is not about an entirely new incident of mob justice in Nigeria. It relates to the same jungle justice addressed in my February 27 posting and also yesterday’s Editorial. However, for completeness sake I want to include it here: readers who may have missed previous posts may find in the article reproduced below the necessary information to fully understand the editorial in the Nigerian newspaper The Nation (online) posted yesterday (webmaster FVDK).

Four burnt to death after ritual killing in Edo

Edo State Commissioner of Police DanMallam Muhammed, addressing journalists in Benin City, Edo State capital, on Monday, October 14, 2019

Published: February 25, 2020
The Punch, Sola Shittu – Benin (city), Nigeria

Three middle-aged men and a woman were on Monday set ablaze by a mob at Otuo community in the Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State.

The four were alleged to have been involved in the murder of a Senior Secondary School 3 pupil of Azama College, Otuo.

 PUNCH Metro gathered that the pupil was allegedly killed and her head severed from her body for ritual purposes.

A source in the community said the murder was carried out at night by her neighbour who sent her on an errand to get sachet water in the evening.

While in his room to deliver the sachet water, she was allegedly murdered and decapitated.

Our source said when the girl’s parents could not find her, they raised the alarm.

The alleged culprits were said to have been caught while attempting to dump the victim’s body in the early hours of the following day.

They were said to have identified two other persons, including the woman who performed the rituals for them.

“The two men were burnt this morning (Monday) along with the woman, while her house was razed. They were all dragged to the popular Women Centre where the community police station is located. The third man was traced to his farm and apprehended,” he said.

Later in the day, our source confirmed that the third man had also been burnt by the mob.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Chidi Nwabuzor, while confirming the incident, said two suspects were lynched.

“The command is aware that a young girl’s head was cut off and the youth of the community arrested two suspects, brought them to the front of the station and set them ablaze,” he said.

Source: Four burnt to death after ritual killing in Edo

Compounded barbarity (Editorial, Nigeria)

A recent Editorial in one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers drew my attention and I would like to share it with you. It is a cry from the heart and corresponds with previous messages which I put on this site. Referring to a recent incident in Edo State, it is about the nonsense of mob justice, it’s illegal nature, and even the damage it causes to the country’s justice system. Read it for yourself. May it contribute to less jungle justice, but – of course and more important – we have to battle the phenomenon of money rituals with all our force and eradicate it from society! (webmaster FVDK). 

Compounded barbarity

Picture from file, not related to described incident

Published: March  6, 2020
By: The Nation (online) – Nigeria (editorial)

Editorial

  • Suspected ritual killers turned victims of jungle justice is cold comfort.  Both outrage jar with civilised 21st century conduct.

It really makes no difference which of the versions of the incident is accurate, whether four or two people were burned alive for allegedly beheading a teenage girl for ritual purposes. The picture of compounded barbarity is clear enough. The girl’s beastly murder attracted jungle justice, but neither of the two is good for society.

According to the Edo State police spokesman, Chidi Nwabuzor, “The command is aware that a young girl’s head was cut off and the youth of the community arrested two suspects, brought them to the front of the station and set them ablaze.”  But media reports said a mob had set ablaze three men and a woman at Otuo community in the Owan East local government area of the state, on February 24, for their alleged involvement in the murder of a Senior Secondary School 3 pupil of Azama College, Otuo.

The girl’s neighbour was said to have sent her on an errand to get sachet water, and she was allegedly killed and beheaded when she returned with the sachet water. Two of her killers were said to have been caught while trying to dump her headless body somewhere the next day. They were said to have implicated two other collaborators, including a woman described as a native doctor.

By taking the law into their own hands, the mob demonstrated public anger over the increasing cases of ritual killing in the country. But their reaction was extreme. It is noteworthy that they had imposed their own punishment on the suspects, right in front of a police station, which suggested they had lost confidence in the police.

Their action was a recipe for anarchy.   Mob justice not only reflects a negative public perception of the criminal justice system, it also undermines the institution charged with maintaining law and order.  This is yet another instance that shows the low rating of the police by the public, and the need for the police to improve their image by performing professionally.

It is unfortunate that the suspected killers were burned alive, thus making it impossible for the police to investigate the allegation against them. The accusation that they killed the victim for ritual purposes could have been more clearly established through a proper trial.

Sadly, this incident further highlights the troubling issue of money-ritual killing prompted by a get-rich-quick mentality.  The circumstances of the murder suggested it may well have had something to do with money rituals. Only the killers could have explained why they needed the girl’s head, but the beheading followed a familiar pattern of killing associated with money ritualists.

The money-ritual angle says something bad about our society.  Frequent reports of suspected money-ritual killings in the country show a dark side of the society that needs to be urgently corrected. Murder is evil; it is worse when it is connected with a get-rich-quick motive.  The love of money should never be taken to such extremes.

The question is: What drives such a desperate and unconscionable pursuit of riches?  The inadequacies of the socio-economic environment must be a major factor, but these can’t justify a do-or-die approach to getting rich. Money rituals that involve murder signify not only material poverty but also spiritual poverty on the part of the perpetrators.

Improved socio-economic conditions can discourage such an approach to getting the good things of life. That is why the government, in pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number, must pay serious attention to the improvement of the socio-economic conditions. The goal should be to significantly reduce the number of the desperately poor as well as promote enlightenment that makes it unnecessary to seek wealth through money rituals