19 July 2013

Rwanda: Police Should Intervene in the Rwamagana Witchcraft Allegations

THE pending banishment of a 60-year-old Thereza Bankundiye and her family over allegations of witchcraft is a barbaric act that should not be happening in this day and age. Residents of Kigabiro Sector, Rwamagana District have accused ageing Bankundiye of being a witch who has cast deadly spells that have caused deaths and sickness in the area.

But unfortunately local authorities seem to be siding with the mob to expel the poor family. According to Jean Marie Kalisa, the village leader, he has received several complaints from irate residents who believe that Bankundiye has 'killed' children, adults and caused incurable diseases.

As a result, under pressure from the residents, he has given the family an ultimatum of 15 days to leave the area. He says this is meant to avoid mob justice or lynching of the accused family.

The reality that a local leader can succumb to such unfounded allegations is unfortunate. Instead of forcing a 60-year-old to leave her home, the local leaders should instead inform police to provide security for the family and also educate the locals that what they accuse the family of doing is not scientifically possible but a mind set which needs to change.

How can an entire village believe that a woman is the cause of events that are quite normal like sickness and death which are part of life. This is an issue of education and sensitization that, the concerned leaders should address urgently.

The issue of banishment is illegal and an abuse of the fundamental rights' of this family. We must not allow the family's rights to be trampled on by a misguided mob. They have as much rights as anyone else to live in peace. The illegal move must be halted and the family's security must be secured.

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