Tan­za­nian vig­i­lantes kill hun­dreds for ‘witchcraft’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

SINCE the start of this year, 479 women killed in Tan­za­nia were ac­cused of prac­tis­ing witchcraft, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased on Mon­day by the Dar es Salaam-based Le­gal and Hu­man Rights Cen­tre (LHRC).

Five women who were ac­cused of being witches were mur­dered by a mob last week. On av­er­age, an es­ti­mated 80 women a month are killed in Tan­za­nia for being sus­pected witches, the re­port stated.

Wil­broad Mta­fungwa, a Tab­ora re­gional po­lice general in the prov­ince where the killings oc­curred, said that vig­i­lante killings re­lated to witchcraft were on the rise in the area.

“Sev­eral sus­pects have been ar­rested, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tions are on­go­ing,” he said.

Helen Kijo-Bisimba, the LHRC’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said the rise in the num­ber of mur­ders dur­ing the past year was a con­se­quence of the re­stric­tion of hu­man rights by con­ser­va­tive Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli – who has pro­hib­ited po­lit­i­cal ral­lies un­til 2020.

Magu­fuli has also faced crit­i­cism for the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to im­ple­ment court rul­ings on hu­man rights is­sues.

Be­lief in witchcraft, which dates back cen­turies in Tan­za­nia, is com­monly used to ex­plain mis­for­tunes such as death, failed har­vests and in­fer­til­ity.

Most of the lynch­ings took place in the com­mer­cial hub, Dar es Salaam, and the Mbeya re­gion in the south­ern high­lands where su­per­sti­tious be­liefs are rife. teleSUR

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