14 February 2013

Tanzania: Irate Mob Burns Witchcraft Suspects' Houses in Mbeya

Mbeya — AN angry mob took it upon itself to burn down four houses belonging to four different families that had long been suspected of witchcraft at Ihahi village in Mbarali District, Mbeya Region.

The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon and the fires destroyed all the properties in the houses as well as livestock. Those who have been designated homeless following the incident have been named as Mohamed Mangea (48) and his wife Pili Hamis, Ramadhan Mhongole and the other two have been identified by a single name as Mwampishi and Sekilulumo.

Ihahi village Chairman, Mr Ramadhani Hassan said that there have mounting accusations against those whose houses have been burnt that they are involved in killing people through witchcraft. "Following the allegations, we reported the matter to the government at the district level but they took too long to react," he said.

Last month, however, the police dispatched an officer to investigate the matter and when a consensus was reached by the villagers that it was indeed the four accused who are involved in witchcraft, they were arrested and taken to the police post. Much to the surprise of the villagers, the suspects returned to the village in no time.

"This not only angered the villagers but they were scared for their lives and thus decided to burn down the houses of all the suspects to kick them out of the village," Mr Hassan said.

Ramle Ibrahim is a son to one of the suspects who narrated the ordeal saying that before the angry mob burnt his parents' house, they were attacked and threatened by people wielding machetes who asked the parents to leave the village.

"When an opportunity to escape presented itself they sped off to the nearest police post to seek protection," he said. Mbeya Acting Regional Police Commander, Mr Barakael Msaki could not be reached for comment but witnesses at the village said that two people have already been arrested in connection with the incident.

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