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‘Kenyan police asked if my husband was a sorcerer’

Whereas Chirindo Chisubi was nonetheless mourning her husband, she was shocked by a query requested by the police investigating his demise in Kenya’s Kilifi County on the Indian Ocean coast.

“This man, your husband, was he a sorcerer?” they requested the 63-year-old newly widowed lady.

Her husband, Dzuya Chisubi, had been hacked to demise over accusations that he practised witchcraft.

Ms Chisubi knew that her husband had by no means been a sorcerer and believed the killing was over one thing else – a dispute over land.

“I instructed them [the police] that since I received married to him, I had by no means seen something in him to point out that he was a sorcerer,” she mentioned.

The demise of her husband pained her, though she believed that there was nothing she might do.

She had been instructed that the husband’s personal brother deliberate the killing, she instructed the BBC, saying the employed killer had confessed to the police.

The 2 males had been arrested and charged. Each denied the allegations.

Many graves within the village

Ms Chisubi’s ache is a well-recognized expertise for the residents in Buni Kisimani in Kilifi, whose relationships are at instances soured and torn aside due to the widespread perception in witchcraft.

Quite a lot of graves dot the village, a few of that are the results of ugly killings.

On this area, it’s not unusual for misfortunes together with frequent diseases or deaths in the neighborhood to be related to witchcraft.

Usually, aged males are accused of sorcery and blamed for these misfortunes. The punishment is at instances brutal demise.

The victims are sometimes hacked or burnt to demise. Some are killed by their very own kinfolk.

Conventional beliefs coexist with Christianity and Islam, that are Kenya’s dominant religions. A survey by Pew Analysis Middle, performed in 2010, confirmed 11% of Kenyans believed in witchcraft.

The federal government doesn’t gather knowledge on the prevalence of the idea in witchcraft, which is prohibited and attracts as much as 10 years in jail, however native media typically report on incidents depicting the apply throughout the nation.

These typically embody the lynching of these suspected of sorcery.

The police instructed the BBC that in Kilifi County alone, greater than 150 aged males have been killed on allegations of witchcraft within the final two years.

Mutual suspicion

Naturally, the previous women and men within the village of Buni Kisimani reside in concern for his or her lives.

When the BBC arrived right here late final 12 months, there have been many younger males round, some on boda bodas (motorbike taxis), the ever present mode of transport within the space. It was exhausting to identify an aged man.

Maybe unsurprisingly, the point out of any previous man’s identify seems to boost eyebrows. The affiliation of the aged with sorcery creates concern amongst some sections of the inhabitants.

However the aged and a few of their kinfolk additionally dwell in concern that they is perhaps attacked due to such beliefs.

Just a few metres from Mr Chisubi’s grave within the village lies one other one – that of Mwakoyo Dzayo’s father, who was killed final 12 months.

Mr Dzayo says his father was killed on suspicion that he was a witchdoctor, an allegation that he denies.

“I’ve not seen him, not even for a day, as a witchdoctor,” he says.

What’s being finished about it?

The authorities say they’ve arrested and charged 28 folks over the deaths of previous males within the space.

Nevertheless, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed among the circumstances, together with that of Mr Chisubi’s killing, which is due again in courtroom later in February.

Khamisi Mwaguzo, the programme coordinator of the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, has additionally been attempting to resolve the difficulty – and says that everybody must become involved.

He notes that totally different teams throughout the society have been blaming each other for the issues based mostly on non secular or cultural variations.

He has been bringing the teams collectively to show and reconcile them.

“A few of the Christians say the Kaya [traditional cultural] leaders are devilish, that they’re backward folks.

“The Kaya folks say the non secular persons are the rationale why many of the elders are getting killed,” he says.

Mr Mwaguzo says all of the teams together with Christians, Muslims and the Kaya elders “should come collectively, preach peace and educate the residents that there is no such thing as a witchcraft right here”.

“The younger folks should be taught to earn their very own residing as a substitute of solely counting on land belonging to their aged dad and mom,” he says.

Land disputes

It’s simply over a 12 months after Ms Chisubi’s husband was killed, and he or she holds on to the hope that justice shall be served.

She doesn’t imagine that the demise of her husband had something to do with witchcraft, which he was accused of, however moderately a dispute over land inheritance together with his brother.

“That they had a farm that belonged to their father, all that remained was to get a surveyor in order that they share the land,” she mentioned.

Rabai police commander Fred Abuga says land disputes and greed for fast wealth are the first explanation for the killings within the space, in keeping with their investigations.

“The foundation of all these points has to do with land. You discover that many aged males personal titles to the land.

“It’s the youthful people who find themselves not concerned in land issues, personal no land, and haven’t any respectable technique of incomes their day by day livelihoods who’re concerned within the crimes,” he says.

‘We’re not free’

Regardless of the makes an attempt to take care of the difficulty, the killings haven’t abated.

“As we’re speaking now, one in every of our elders in Kaya Chonyi [one of the Kaya sub-groups] is mendacity within the morgue in Kilifi,” says Daniel Mwawara Garero, chairman of the native council of elders.

“Even in one of many homesteads right here, there’s an aged man who was slaughtered simply the opposite day, so the killings proceed and we live in concern,” he says.

Even Ms Chisubi’s household remains to be uneasy over what has transpired since her husband was killed.

“Now he’s indignant at my kids,” she says, about her brother-in-law who was freed after denying allegations in opposition to him in courtroom. The person who confessed remains to be in jail awaiting trial.

“We’re being requested to go away our land as a result of we discuss an excessive amount of and we do not know what this speaking an excessive amount of is all about.

“We didn’t report him [to the police], the killer is the one who did.

“We’re not free, we’re not completely satisfied in any respect,” she says.

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