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General News of Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Source: The Finder

‘Witches’ in trouble

…Chief saves 40 from lynching

About 40 old men and women were nearly butchered to death at Sawaba, a suburb of the Tamale metropolis, last Friday by angry youth in the area who accused the old people of using spiritual powers to kill some members of the community.

Holding a list of the suspected wizards and witches, the angry youth went on rampage, searching houses and forcing those on the list out of their homes.

The alleged witches and wizards were then assembled at one place for a special ‘send-off party,’ and had it not been the swift and timely intervention of traditional rulers in the area, a massacre would have taken place.

The Finder gathered that among the youth on rampage were children of some of those accused of possessing witchcraft.

The angry youth said their action was necessary given the series of deaths of very young and energetic people in the area, which they attributed to occult acts allegedly carried out by those on their list.

They claimed that their action would stop further deaths as it would remove those killing their colleagues from the community.

Eyewitness accounts said the alleged witches and wizards were insulted and physically harassed with occasional stone-throwing, as they were matched to the chief’s palace.

“Had it not been the timely orders from the chief and his elders in the community, all the 40 alleged witches would have been summarily executed”, a 42-year-old eyewitness, Fuseina Mahama, told The Finder.

Fuseina said just when the youth started hurling stones at them, there was an order from the traditional authority in the area for the alleged witches to be brought there for interrogations; the intervention, she said, saved the situation.

“I was also nearly forced out of my house as they mistook my identity for someone else because we bore the same name,” Fuseina lamented to The Finder.

Meanwhile, the aged, especially old women in the area, say they are living in a state of fear as they are not sure about their personal security.

Some of the women told The Finder that they may have to move out of the community if no action was immediately taken to guarantee their safety and security.

When contacted, Mr Stephen Azentilo, the Northern Regional director of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said the action of the youth was against the human rights of the affected persons.

The incidence of mob actions against alleged witches and wizards has witnessed a rising trend in the Northern Region, and the latest case is the third instance last week alone in Tamale alone.

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