Malindi witch hunters post ‘outcasts list’
RESIDENTS in Malindi have devised new ways of "dealing" with suspected witches. In an area where lynching of witches is common, the residents now publicly display the names of suspects on walls, streets and in market areas as a measure to the outdated practice. In Ganda in Malindi constituency, six people among them five village elders and a civil servant’s names were displayed as witchcraft suspects, who are targeted for lynching. Area DO Josephine Njenga said the six have already recorded statements with the police over the threats to their lives. She said the police are investigating several people suspected to behind the list.
Speaking at Ganda market where two suspects stood to challenge the villagers to give evidence on the allegations, Njenga said it is illegal for youth accuse other people of being witches without evidence. “We have received complaints from six people who have already recorded statements with us. These people’s lives might be at risk because their names have been tainted,” she said.
Njenga warned the youths against lynching the suspects saying found doing it will be arrested and prosecuted. She said it is sad most of victims are elderly people, adding that government is working with the church and educated people to educate people to abandon the practice. “Youths in this area are fond of accusing certain individuals that they are witches and then they end up killing them. These actions are not good at all. Someone can just have a personal difference with an individual and they call them witches. Anyone who will be found doing this will be charged,” she said.
She attributed the behaviour of the youth to lack of education. “Most youths who engage in this behaviour are not educated. They just sit in groups and then decide who to list down on the witchcraft list,” she said. Njenga challenged parents to invest in the education of their children saying it the key to eliminating the practice. “Cases of killing witchcraft in this area are mostly associated to youths who are just idle and doing nothing in the society. They need to go to school. If one feels that they can’t manage, they can join polytechnics or form groups and get loans from the government to start business,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kilifi religious leaders have accused the government of laxity in dealing with rising lynching of old people at the Coast. Sheikh Ali Hussein, the Kilifi Council of Imams and preachers of Kenya coordinator yesterday accused the area police of failing to stop the killing of old people over witchcraft allegations. He those instigating the killings are walking freely in the area, adding that they should be arrested and charged with murder. “We are surprised that suspects who engage in these beastly acts are often not arrested. Yet we know them,” said Hussein.
Hussein accused the government of doing little to sensitize the region against the vice.“We want the government to come out strongly and put in place stern measures to prevent these senseless killings. They are capable of putting a stop to this,” he added. However, the Kilifi OCPD Clement Wangai said the police in the area are doing their best to arrest and charge the suspects. “Our officers have been mobilised to ensure that the situation is contained. We are working with the administrations to stop these killings,” said Wangai. He blame the locals for failing to cooperate with the police to stop the killings.