Liberia: Fear Grips Picnicess Over Mysterious Deaths

-- County Leadership vote for 'Tamba' to Cleanse Chenakaleh

Life in Picnicess, Grand Kru County, is no picnic right now. At least 40 persons are said to have died mysteriously, allegedly due to witchcraft activities in Chenakaleh, Picnicess over the last couple of years. The most recent mysterious death that has Picnicess on edge is that of a "man of God", the head of the Catholic Church in Picnicess, Brother Joseph Nyenplue.

Grand Kru County Superintendent, Doris N. Ylatun, told the Daily Observer on Thursday that unexplained death of the late Nyenplue on July 10 caused a protest over the mysterious death of their parish leader, but the angry residents were peaceful and didn't damage public property.

She said the body of the late Nyenplue was discovered with fresh blood running through his nose and eyes, with broken arms, though no parts were extracted.

According to Madam Superintendent, there have been a spate of mysterious deaths of people since before her appointment in 2018. Also, recently in her tenure, at least five deaths have occurred, bring the number of deaths to 40.

She said the mysterious deaths are only done in Chenakaleh and the residents believe that not enough has been done to find those behind the recent deaths. According to her, residents are now demanding a witch doctor, popularly known as "Tamba", to uncover the witches and cleanse the community.

"The County Leadership has agreed to the request of Chenakaleh to cleanse the community from witchcraft activities but, before his ministration, there will be a round-table discussion about his proceedings," Madam Ylatun said.

"We are expecting Tamba in the county hopefully between now to the 15th of August and we are hopeful the mysterious deaths will come to an end."

Grand Kru County (red), in southeastern Liberia, is also the home county of President George Manneh Weah

Superintendent Ylatun indicated that the first appointed commissioner of Picnicess in 2018, Tokpa Geplah, also disappeared mysteriously and is believed to be dead. She said Geplah allegedly disappeared while en route to his house after fishing and, up to now, his body is yet to be found.

"For me, in August 2019, a snake was found laying in my bed, where l usually laid down with the Holy Bible on top of my pillow," the Superintendent said, narrating her own personal experience. "It was through the mercy of God, l didn't jump on my bed to lay down but spotted it and it was killed."

Besides Picnicess, the alleged witchcraft activities are also alarming in Galarway, while in Buah District there are conflicts among the people over farm lands.

Moreover, there are inter-counties conflicts over lands between Maryland and Grand Kru Counties. A meeting has been set for November this year by the Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, to bring the conflicting parties together to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Ylatun has appealed to Justice Minister Frank Dean for the increment of police in the county and the erection of a correctional facility.

"Whenever we have a prisoner, we transport them to Maryland due to fear of jail breaks. Interestingly, because of lack of vehicle, they are transported via motorbike," Madam Ylatun said.

She furthered that currently a suspected rapist and a suspected murderer are in prison and they are trying to rent a vehicle to transport them Maryland, also due to fear of possible jail break.

In other issues, she graded the health sector better over the educational sector, stressing that the high schools in the county don't have libraries, laboratories and qualified teachers in some of the subjects, unlike in the health sector, there are more trained health practitioners.

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