Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two elderly women accused of sorcery were saved by police just as a mob were about to set them on fire in rural Papua New Guinea

Police came just in the nick of time as the angry mob had strapped the two women to poles and were ready to burn them over the alleged murder of an eight-year-old girl. The attack took place in the same town where 20-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped, beaten and burned to death, accused of being a witch. It is believed that the murdered eight-year-old was gang raped and killed by two known suspects, police commander Teddy Tei said, adding that the suspects were among the mob accusing the women of being witches. A so-called holy man, known as a glassman for having supernatural powers, had claimed that the women were responsible for the child’s death and accused them of sorcery. About 20 people were arrested. The event took place a week after a mother-of-two was tossed on to a pyre of tyres and burned alive, after being accused of killing a neighbor's six-year-old son with sorcery. The two shocking events took place in the highlands of Papua New Guinea where many believe that witchcraft exists, and sorcery is used to kill enemies. The cost of a witch doctor revealing a cause of death or casting out an evil spirit is usually 1000 New Guinean kina (£303), plus a pig and a bag of rice. In 1971, whilst still a colony, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalize the practice, however the law has recently seen a rise in attacks on innocent people accused of black magic and convictions by kangaroo courts made up of of local village elders. In July 2012, 29 people were arrested accused of black magic and cannibalism after allegedly murdering seven people in order to eat their brains and use their genitals for sorcery rituals. In 2009, a man was hacked to pieces by machetes after a kangaroo court convicted him of sorcery.

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