30 April 2009

Gambia: 'How I Was Abducted By the Witch Hunters,' Victim Explains His Ordeal

Mr. Ali Marr of Barra, a victim of the witch hunting exercise that saw the abduction of people by armed security agents and so-called witch hunters, recently informed the Foroyaa Newspaper of how he was abducted together with his relatives by the over zealous witchcraft practitioners.

Ali Marr who is in his mid 70s, said the hunters met him in his compound sometime in February 2009 whilst he was having his lunch. He explained that a group of people dressed in red garments and accompanied by security personnel and green boys and girls, entered his compound.

According to Marr, when they entered into his compound, they asked him to hurry up and go with them to a waiting bus. He said he was eating at that juncture and wanted to enquire about their reasons for asking him to go with them, noting that they interrupted him and said that it was an order from the president and that he has to comply. He said they told him that some evil things are buried in his compound and that they are there to remove them. He said they did some demonstrations in the compound and later claimed that they had removed the evil things.

He said after this demonstration, he was ordered to join the bus where he found dozens of people, consisting of his relatives and villagers. He said the so-called witch hunters abducted some people in Barra and Essau, and transported all of them to the Barra Ferry Terminal and crossed to the city of Banjul and to an area called Baba Jobe's Compound in Kololi.

The70 year old man said at Kololi, he was told that he was a wizard which he vehemently refuted in their (witchcraft practitioner's) presence. He said he was later ordered to drink a concoction and to wash himself.

According to him, they continued to give him the concoction for 3 days. He said he did not know the liquid that was given to them, noting that this was the first time for him to drink this type of concoction. He said both his sister and her daughter Ndey Marr and Sagarr. Jagne respectively visited him at the detention centre in order to see him as he was there with his late elder brother Kolley Marr and two of his sisters. He said his late brother suffered a great deal after drinking the concoction at Kololi and later passed away at his home in Barra shortly after his release.

Mr. Marr said he also developed chest pain and his legs got swollen after his release. He added that he is still suffering from severe chest pain; that he continues to vomit. He said he has visited the health centre for treatment but has not still realized any improvement. Marr said he could neither eat rice nor coos, not to talk of meat since his release from captivity. He said he has lost appetite, and as a result could not eat several foodstuffs.

Marr said his encounter with the witchcraft practitioners has affected him greatly, noting that he cannot stand straight and that he can only work for a short distance.

He said,"I have lost my blood brother and now am the breadwinner for the family. My health condition is deteriorating and it does not allow me to do anything, and am just sitting at home".

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