Gun­men kill 4 over ‘witch­craft’

Daily Nation Newspaper - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN­NIE MUNDANDO

GUN­MEN have killed four peo­ple sus­pected of prac­tic­ing witch­craft in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents within a week in Si­na­zongwe, prompt­ing Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Gift Sialubalo to call for an ur­gent meet­ing with coun­cil­lors and tra­di­tional lead­ers in the area.

And district UPND spokesper­son Ge­orge Bbabbi has at­trib­uted the killings to what he called an in­flux of ‘prophets’ from Zim­babwe who had al­legedly ‘in­vaded’ the district and were paid to iden­tify al­leged witches and wiz­ards re­spon­si­ble for each death thereby forc­ing rel­a­tives of the de­ceased to re­tal­i­ate by hir­ing gun­men to also kill the ‘cul­prit’.

Mr Sialubalo said in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day that he was con­cerned with the in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple be­ing killed on mere sus­pi­cion of prac­tic­ing witch­craft.

He is said while the peo­ple had con­tin­ued blam­ing the po­lice for fail­ing to curb the es­ca­lat­ing num­ber of mur­ders in the area, the com­mu­nity had not done enough to help the po­lice in pro­vid­ing leads to sus­pects.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that we have con­tin­ued to lose lives ow­ing to mere spec­u­la­tion and ac­cu­sa­tions of witch­craft and be­fore we blame the po­lice for not do­ing enough, there is need for the com­mu­nity to re­al­ize that they have a big­ger role to play in end­ing these killings be­cause we live with these peo­ple who are hir­ing crim­i­nals and as long as we do not pro­vide leads to the po­lice, we will con­tinue dy­ing.

“Com­mu­nity mem­bers must re­al­ize that by not co­op­er­at­ing with the po­lice, they are en­dan­ger­ing their own lives be­cause I may be the tar­get to­day, to­mor­row, it may be an­other per­son. This is why I am meet­ing all the coun­cil­lors af­ter which, I will meet tra­di­tional lead­ers so that we find a long-last­ing so­lu­tion to this prob­lem,” Mr Sialubalo said.

Mean­while, Mr. Bbabbi said ‘prophets’ from Zim­babwe were to blame for the predica­ment that had be­fallen the peo­ple in the area.

“We have a num­ber of these so-called prophets from Zim­babwe who are nam­ing peo­ple said to have be­witched some peo­ple and in turn, rel­a­tives of the de­ceased hire these crim­i­nals and this is what has caused all this prob­lem,” Mr Bbabbi said.

When con­tacted for a com­ment, South­ern Prov­ince Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Di­a­mond Likashi re­ferred all queries to the po­lice pub­lic re­la­tions depart­ment say­ing he has been out of of­fice.

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