Tanzanian vigilantes kill hundreds for ‘witchcraft’
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