End claims of sorcery, terror against women

Monday, February 27th, 2023 11:00 | By
End claims of sorcery, terror against women
Mary Njoki, who was lynched on the night of February 20, 2023 at Kiamikoe village in Kihuro sub-county, Murang'a County, on allegations of being a witch. PHOTO/Courtesy

There is an unbelievable madness sweeping across the country. Bands of men, armed with crude weapons, are rampaging villages burning to death helpless old women after accusing them of being witches. 

Recently, two elderly women were lynched by a mob said to number hundreds, who attacked them at night, dragged them from their homes, and burnt them.

Mary Njoki, 75, and Jane Wambui, 85, were stripped, beaten and burnt in Kahuro Kiamikoe village in Murang’a County.

It is disgraceful that nobody has as yet been arrested. County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo says he’ll call a baraza to “educate” people on mob justice. Good grief! This is a straight law-and-order matter and it beggars belief that the national government machinery is twiddling its thumbs.

How 100 people met, planned, assembled, and them marched to the homes of the two women, dragged them out, interrogated them, beat them, and then burnt them under the very noses of the police and the county security system, needs to be interrogated.

It’s either incompetence or complicity.

In Yatta, Machakos County, a band of men marched to the home of a 48-year-old mother of eight, destroyed her house, and evicted her. Her crime? She was using sorcery and witchcraft to stop rain from falling.

Presumably, she was also stopping rain from falling countrywide where five failed rain seasons have visited the nation. The “incensed” residents claimed she had a male body part which she allegedly brandishes to keep away the rain. They supposedly performed a macabre cleansing ritual on her.

The response of the Machakos Deputy County Commissioner, Lillian Njagi, was to relocate the victim. Capitulation! No arrests have been made.

The problem fuelling these attacks is because the police and the security committee at the national level are not taking such attacks on old women seriously. So the thugs know they have absolute impunity to kill as they wish! The fact that the county commissioners and police commanders in Murang’a and Machakos see the two incidents as nothing requiring drastic action on their behalf says it all. No arrests so far?

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has ordered a crackdown, saying the trend must stop. You might be mistaken to think that this statement was issued as an ultimatum from his office, but you would be wrong. It was a pronouncement at a public baraza.

Some positive news. The police and the security committee in Kisii County have finally acted, due to public outrage. And they have acted decisively. Kisii has for long been the headquarters of lynching of old women.

After the murder of four elderly women in Nyangonyi village, Marani sub-county, Kisii County on October 21, 2021, several people were charged with murder.

Amos Nyakundi, Chrispine Ogeto, Peter Angwenyi, Brian Nyakundi, Ronald Ombati and Justin Morara have been charged with the killing of Sindenge Mayaka, Jemimah Nyang’ate Mironga, Sindenge Nyakwara Masaku and Agnes Moraa Ototo, all aged over 70. They were accused of bewitching a Form Four student. What nonsense!

Even more heartening news from Kisii is that the Court of Appeal upheld the death sentences imposed on Dennis Aswera, Amos Bichange, Bichange Omwancha, and Fred Okello. The four were convicted of murdering two women they accused of being witches on July 12, 2016, in Getenge, Kisii County.

In their ruling, the Appeal Court judges described the lynching as “pockets of deep darkness and superstition in an age where reason and enlightenment are taken for granted.” The judges averred that the manner in which the crime was committed was a study in “rank malice, premeditation and murderous intent.” Very clear-minded indeed!

The courts have demonstrated they are ready to do their part. The weakest link is the Interior Ministry, the police and the county commissioners. Their boss, Kindiki, needs to give them marching orders to arrest the Murang’a and Machakos suspects and charge them within seven days.

— Gathu Kaara can be reached at: [email protected]

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