Aug 18, 2002
[edit: A general witch thread - I'll keep an eye on things and see if any patterns emerge and it needs plitting but it'll do for now.]

Fifty nine killed by witches new book reveals

A new book has arrived as if by magic which recounts sorcery and the occult of witches in Hertfordshire.

The Witches of Hertfordshire, by Simon Walker, details the cases of witchcraft which have been recorded in the county over the centuries.

It investigates the myths and legends of the phenomena, drawing upon a large number of sources from all around the county, including court records, contemporary accounts and archaeology.

The book is a fascinating insight into the history of dark doings in Hertfordshire, and would certainly make you think twice the next time a strange looking woman with a black cat crossed your path.

The Witches of Hertfordshire is published by Tempus Publishing and is priced at £14.99. http://www.tempus-publishing.com. The Borehamwood and Elstree Times has five copies of the book to give away.

To win one answer the following question.

According to popular belief, what colour is a witches' cat?

a) Black
b) Grey
c) Ginger

All entries should be sent to The Borehamwood and Elstree Times, 1 Drayton Road, Borehamwood WD6 2DA by June 4.


Beloved of Ra
Aug 18, 2002
The wailing witches of Baba Vakhtor

The wailing witches of Baba Vakhtor



GABADIA(Vadodara dist): Many a hill in Chhota Udepur serve as sacrificial altars for the one million tribals who inhabit this belt. But Baba Vakhtor hill represents more than just a pinnacle of superstition — it represents the misery of women ostracised as witches.

Thrown out of their villages, these so-called witches take shelter on this craggy hill. Set on the banks of the Orsang river, this hill is dedicated to Baba Vakhtor — their protector.

On a full moon Thursday, like the one that just passed, Baba Vakhtor is supposed to visit this hill. But there are few who dare to tread the three km-long distance between Gabadia village and the hill. For the villagers believe it is haunted by witches.

As one climbs the hill, representing the acme of exploitative condition of marginalised women, piles of boulders resound with wails and hisses. The wails get shriller as behind each big boulder are women — all in a trance, wailing, hissing, trembling, shaking their heads in a frenzy.

"Don’t stand next to her, don't stare at her this way. She is not possessed. She is mentally ill," says 26-year-old Bhimsinh Rathwa from Dehri village,who had accompanied his sister Sundari to the hill. This after she was branded a witch by the village witch-doctor or 'bhuva'. "She wanted to visit other Gods but the villagers would not allow her to enter their village. This is the only place she can visit," says Rathwa.

The village bhuva said it was Sundari who was responsible for the deaths of her four-month-old son, her brother-in-law and two buffaloes.

"She lost control after she lost her baby. She did not know what to do with her sick child while her husband was away in Kutch," says Rathwa.

Like Sundari, there are at least 15 other ostracised women, on the hill, all assembled to take Baba Vakhtor's blessings.

Ghemchand Baba, a witch doctor and the priest of the Vakhtor Dev temple, believes that the hill is the only place where those branded as witches can gain some more knowledge of 'witchcraft'.

"There are three important locations on this hill for these women — the Pir Baba dargah at the bottom, Baba Vakhtor and Kothar Mata. This is the usual routine for these women on every full moon that coincides with a Thursday," he says.

When asked how does one identify a witch, witch-doctor Kocchar Baba explained that one has to take a leaf called the 'khakhar paido', pack it with a pinch of lentil or pulses and take it to the suspected woman while she is asleep.

The pack is then taken to the bhuva who, through some rituals, identifies the witch.

But a senior professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Ajay Dandekar says the phenomenon of witch-hunting is more economic than social.

"Tribal society being more egalitarian in nature considers women equal to men when it comes to owning property. By branding some woman as a witch, she can easily be refused this privilege," says Dandekar.


Beloved of Ra
Aug 18, 2002
General News of Sunday, 31 October 2004

Accused of witchcraft, women banished far from home

Blamed for fever, drought, accidents
In Ghana, 1,000 live in colonies

Gambaga, GHANA—In the uppermost reaches of Ghana, where the dry savannah bleeds into the sandy Sahel, the appearance of witches isn't confined to one dark, fall night filled with tricks and treats.

It may be Halloween in Canada, but in a cluster of round, medieval-looking mud huts in Gambaga, some overgrown with pumpkin vines, hundreds of women accused of witchcraft do penance for their past.

Some freely admit they used the dark arts to settle old scores, rendering wandering husbands impotent or eviscerating the crops of enemies. But most say they were blamed for suspicious boils and bites, deadly car accidents, devastating droughts, feverish malaria-fuelled dreams, and epidemics and outbreaks beyond their control.

Twelve years ago, Hawa Mahama's nephew woke one morning convinced his aunt had tried to kill him in his dream.

The boy's father, Mahama's eldest brother, swiftly accused her of witchcraft. Although she vehemently denied the charge, the family sent her from their home in Kparigu to Gambaga, a dusty village near the Burkina Faso border, where the chief agreed to settle the dispute using a traditional shrine ceremony.

To determine whether Mahama was a witch, the enigmatic Gambarana, or chief, slaughtered a charmed fowl. If it died with its beak in the air, Mahama was telling the truth and was not practising witchcraft.

But the fowl flopped forward as it died, landing on its breast and convicting Mahama of being a witch. It was a verdict she says she was forced to accept.

The 80-year-old woman was banished from her home and has been living at the witch camp in Gambaga ever since.

The camp has no cauldrons, no potion books, no cackling old covens. Instead, it's like a perverse retirement community, where emaciated old women rely on their neighbours for food, clothing and shelter.

Nkugosiba Gazari has lived at the Gambaga camp for 35 years, arriving from a tiny northern village. "At first it was not happy for her, but as time went on she got used to it," interpreter Alhassan Mohammed said, translating Gazari's words from her native Mamprusi dialect.

Now in her 80s, Gazari's days are spent shelling groundnuts, drying beans and working in farmers' fields in exchange for a meagre portion of the harvest. Every day she carries her own water from a nearby pump, on a foot that was partially amputated after suffering an infection.

Although witchcraft is a centuries-old concept, born of a widespread belief in animalistic rituals and totems, and sometimes belittled by a population that increasingly sees itself as Christian or Muslim, the number of women accused of engaging in sorcery is actually on the rise.

In 1997, Ghana's Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice estimated that more than 700 women were living at the country's four northern witch camps. Last year, it put that number at more than 1,000. There are similar camps in Tanzania, and women flock from neighbouring Togo and Burkina Faso to Ghana's protective witch colonies.

Gambaga's chief, the Gambarana Yahaya Wuni, claims he can cure the women of witchcraft. From inside the dark mud hut that is his palace, Wuni — who wraps himself in sumptuous fabrics, carries a dark decorated walking stick and watches a 26-inch Sanyo television — won't talk about his powers, which sound strangely like sorcery. It's also taboo.

But interviews with other community members show the accused witches are made to drink a cleansing concoction and to participate in elaborate, secretive ceremonies that involve pouring libations of alcohol made from fermented Guinea corn millet and asking the chief's ancestors to help him rid the woman of witchcraft.

Although men accused of sorcery are cleansed by the chief and immediately return to their villages, few women return home, fearing they will be intimidated, discriminated against or worse.

Human-rights reports are littered with examples of women who were lynched or beaten by community members after being accused of witchcraft.

One of those women, known as Ayieshtu, returned to the Gambaga camp missing an ear after elders slashed it with a cutlass, warning her she would lose the other ear if she dared return.

"They are afraid they will kill them," Mohammed, the interpreter, said. "They are afraid of being killed."


Justified & Ancient
Sep 25, 2003
I know there are other similar stories to this one on here, I couldn't remember where they were posted.

'Crossed leg spell' cast on team

A group of witches have cast a "bad luck" spell on Charlton Athletic and their manager Alan Curbishley.

The "cross-legged spell" was cast by Raquel Bailey - a wicca (white) witch and Yeovil Town supporter - at the stone circle at Ham Hill, Somerset.

She hopes the spell might make "something funny" happen to the team's legs when they approach the goalmouth.

"The spell is not evil, it's merely to help Yeovil in Saturday's FA cup game against Charlton," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/e ... 217583.stm
Published: 2005/01/29 04:37:16 GMT



Apr 15, 2002
Note that the stone circle at Ham Hill mentioned in the article above is a very recent (and rather silly) addition to the site ;)


Dec 5, 2003
And I would query whether or not hexing a footie team counts as white magic...
Aug 18, 2002
More "witch" abuse:

'Nymphomaniac' paraded naked in UP

Alka Rastogi
Lucknow, March 7, 2005

A woman, branded nymphomaniac by a local tantrik, was stripped naked, tarred, her head shaved and paraded naked on a donkey in Chandpur under Sarai Aqueel police station of Uttar Pradesh's Kaushambhi district.

Known as Shastriji, the tantrik reportedly told his congregation that 17-year-old Usha had an insatiable sexual appetite and had slept with innumerable men. He said the teenager would continue to bed other men unless she was burnt alive on the stake for her infractions.

To make matters worse, Shastriji also held Usha responsible for the murder of a 5-year-old whose body was discovered in a pond some days ago. Claiming that he had seen the gruesome killing reenacted in a tumbler of mustard oil, the tantrik convinced everyone of Usha's guilt. She was subsequently denounced as a witch.

While many of the locals had made up their minds to consign Usha to the flames, what saved her was dissension from a section of the crowd. As a compromise, it was decided to publicly humiliate the girl by taking out a procession in which she would be carried naked. Usha's tormentors even shelled out money from their own pockets to hire a donkey and go through with their cruel plan.

Five people have so far been arrested in this connection. The charges against them include forcing a girl to strip, obscenity at a public place and assaulting her with canes. Vijay, Amarnath, Rajendra and Shyam Sunder are among those currently in police custody.

The local populace however hasn't taken kindly to the police action. Usha, they still believe, is a witch whom they had every right to attack. Although police say the child most likely drowned since the post-mortem report shows no external injury marks, no one seems willing to accept that explanation.

Senior police officials including the Sub-Divisional Magistrate are camping in the area to diffuse the situation following angry protests against the five arrests.


Beloved of Ra
Aug 18, 2002
razorblimp said:
Lethe said:
Bloody hell, I dispair, it sounds like something from the Middle Ages. :(
Except the witches would be sent for a long deep swim in the local pond.
Well there are numerous reports of witch killings in this thread:


This follows on form thefear of witches (and sounds like mass hysteria or an UL gone wild):

News Updated on Monday, May 02, 2005 6:44:33 PM

Witch fear grips north Indian village!

Pursani | April 30, 2005 3:31:09 PM IST

The village of Gosaiganj, near Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, is currently gripped by fears of a witch being in the vicinity. Although unbelievable, residents are said to be plastering their homes with imprints of palm to scare away the witch, who they say has cursed many families with diseases and claimed nearly half a dozen lives in the past few months.

The villagers describe the witch as a white-haired extremely old beggar woman, who visits several homes seeking bread and onions and then curses the unsuspecting residents.

Although, no one has seen her, the villagers are convinced that she is the one who is responsible for the illnesses and deaths, and the one who has unleashed a wave of evil spirits. They say that the curses of the alleged witch will keep on haunting them unless they protect themselves by sprinkling holy water and stamping their walls with the red and orange palm imprints.

Villagers say that the colours are an antidote to the demonic energies and will keep them at bay. Shanti Devi, who heard about the witch from her brother, says, the witch squeezes the onions, puts a spell on the juice and then vapourises it to affect the entire home.

"The witch comes in the form of an old beggar woman. She asks for bread and onion, once the lady of house gives it to her she squeezes the onion and then mishaps happen in the family. Everybody is taking precautions against her so I am also doing the same, " Shanti said.

Ever since the news broke, few dare to tread the village streets alone and children have been asked not to play in the fields. Neetu, a 20-year-old mother of two, said the witch also abducts kids.

"She asks for onions and bread and when you go inside the house she runs away with your child," she said.

Witchcraft is practiced in some parts of the country, with women being the worst sufferers. They are accused as witches for being unable to procure an heir or accused of using their "evil" powers to cause a prolonged illness in the family, they are raped, burned, beaten and even hacked to death.

Though government has passed a tough law requiring a three-month prison sentence for even calling a woman a witch and death penalty for the killers, convictions are rare.


Justified & Ancient
Nov 6, 2002

Girl tortured 'for being a witch'

An eight-year-old girl was tortured and about to be killed after being accused of being a witch, the Old Bailey heard.

The court was told the Angolan girl was put in a bag and was to be thrown into a river before the attack was stopped.

The child's aunt, 38, and Sita Kisanga, 35, both from London, deny conspiracy to murder and several counts of child cruelty dating from November 2003.

Sebastian Pinto, 33, and Kiwonde Kiese, 21, both of Stoke Newington, deny aiding and abetting child cruelty.

Slapped and cut

Charges against the four defendants allege that chilli peppers were rubbed into the girl's eyes, she was beaten with a belt, slapped, cut with a knife and starved.

Prosecutor Patricia May said the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was brought to Britain from Angola in 2002 by one of the defendants, who claimed she was her daughter.

The girl's father had died in the fighting in the African country's civil war and her mother was also feared dead.

Miss May said the victim and her aunt went to live with Ms Kisanga at the beginning of 2003, when her ill-treatment started after another child told them she had performed witchcraft.

Miss May added: "That ill-treatment led to conduct which would, if it had not been stopped, led to fatal consequences."

She told the court the aunt and Ms Kisanga put the girl in a laundry bag, zipped it up and were about to throw it into the New River in Hackney, east London, until Mr Pinto stopped them.

Miss May said Mr Pinto told them: "If they did and it was discovered, the law and the rights of children in this country being what they were, they would go to prison."

Ms Kisanga's home was searched and a number of documents were found relating to sin, the devil and witchcraft.

Diary evidence

Miss May said her diary, written in the African language of Lingala, was also examined.

She told the court: "One entry for 16 November 2003 stated, 'There was indeed a prophesy she has ndoki [the Lingala word for witchcraft]'."

Miss May said a handwriting analysis had suggested there was strong evidence that the words were written by Ms Kisanga.

Miss May added: "This child was treated as a scapegoat by family members, tormented, subjected to all sorts of assaults which must have caused her considerable pain, fear and distress.

"All the defendants to a greater or lesser degree, participated in that conduct."

(c) bbc 05
Aug 18, 2002
Six People in Rural Southern Mexico Beaten for Allegedly Practicing Witchcraft

The Associated Press
Published: May 6, 2005

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) - A mob beat six people accused of practicing witchcraft in a mountainous corner of Mexico's southernmost state, but police intervened before anyone was killed, authorities said Friday.

More than 100 inhabitants of the isolated and largely Indian town of Pantlho in Chiapas state gathered around midday Thursday, cornering six locals who were accused of gathering in a home for a witches' meeting, according to Armando Juarez, the community's mayor.

Responding to emergency calls, soldiers and police attempted to negotiate their way into the town as the mob beat its victims and made plans to hang them at a soccer stadium, Juarez said.

Authorities were able to disperse much of the crowd around 11 p.m. and had rescued the victims by the early hours of Friday morning. They were taken to medical centers in neighboring towns.

Residents demanded the victims be ordered to pay a 6,000 peso (US$545, euro420.95) fine because of local ordinances banning witchcraft.

AP-ES-05-06-05 2323EDT


Justified & Ancient
Sep 17, 2001
melf said:

Girl tortured 'for being a witch'

An eight-year-old girl was tortured and about to be killed after being accused of being a witch, the Old Bailey heard.

The court was told the Angolan girl was put in a bag and was to be thrown into a river before the attack was stopped.

The child's aunt, 38, and Sita Kisanga, 35, both from London, deny conspiracy to murder and several counts of child cruelty dating from November 2003.

Sebastian Pinto, 33, and Kiwonde Kiese, 21, both of Stoke Newington, deny aiding and abetting child cruelty.

(c) bbc 05
June 04, 2005

Exorcist trio face jail for torturing 'witch', 8
By Nicola Woolcock

Cruelty case highlights plight of children caught by unholy mix of wild evangelicals and possession

THREE people who tortured an eight-year-old girl in brutal exorcism rites because they believed that she was a witch are facing long jail sentences after being convicted yesterday of child cruelty.

Sita Kisanga, 36, Sebastian Pinto, 33, and the child’s aunt, who cannot be identified, were found guilty of subjecting the child to 15 months of beatings and starvation. The girl, who testified at the Old Bailey trial via a videolink, is believed to be among hundreds of African children in the UK subjected to ritual abuse because of a belief in witchcraft fostered by the growth of unregulated evangelical churches.

In the wake of this case — and the murders of Victoria Climbie and Adam, the boy whose torso was found in the Thames — Scotland Yard has established Project Violet to tackle such crimes. The team was set up partly because the abuse of the girl was uncovered through “luck and chance”.

Five other investigations — four in London and one in the South West — are currently ongoing. In each case families allegedly believed that their children were possessed and wanted them to undergo exorcism.

Directors of Social Services across the UK have been alerted to the dangers posed by the belief in witchcraft and told to take a proactive approach with fringe churches.

The 38-year-old aunt began crying shortly before the verdicts were delivered. Kisanga smirked and Pinto remained impassive. Judge Christopher Moss said that prison terms were “inevitable” when the three, who are related, return for sentencing next month.

The aunt was found guilty of four counts of cruelty for slapping the girl, hitting her with a shoe and a belt, starving her, rubbing chilli peppers in her eyes, cutting her with a knife, and zipping her inside a laundry bag to make her think she would be thrown away.

Kisanga, of Hackney, East London, and Pinto, of Stoke Newington, North London, were convicted of aiding and abetting child cruelty. The two women were cleared of conspiracy to murder.

The girl’s plight was uncovered when she was found barefoot on the steps of a council flat in November 2003, 15 months after she was brought to Britain from Angola by her aunt. The girl was taken into care by Hackney Council but returned to her aunt a month later. The first doctor to examine her missed 43 wounds and scars on her body. She later said that she did not notice them because it was late afternoon and the light was dim.

Only after the aunt and child moved house and Haringey Council reopened the case was the full extent of her injuries discovered. The girl was re-interviewed and told police that her aunt was committing the abuse. Hackney Council has now opened an inquiry.

Child welfare groups say that thousands of African children go missing from British schools every year. Because of transient inner-city populations and the sensitivity surrounding race relations, many of the children are impossible to trace. Concerns are rising that many, especially those attending fundamentalist churches, may be subjected to abuse.

Detectives say that they have no way of gauging the true scale of the problem. They remain wary of inflaming relations with ethnic communities and lack the resources to police every suspicious home or place of worship. Many of the new churches, which spring up under the control of self-styled pastors, mix a belief in ndoki [witchcraft] and sorcery with fundamentalist Christianity.

Pardeep Gill, a child abuse expert, said: “More people believed in witchcraft than didn’t and there are tons of these churches. Anyone can say he is a pastor. There are some who use witchcraft as a means of controlling congregations.”

Dr Richard Hoskins, who is a specialist in African studies and advises police, said: “It’s thought children can catch witchcraft by taking infected bread from a witch. The deliverance process requires fasting for three days then the confrontation begins.”

Kisanga had attended the Spiritual Warfare church, in Hackney, which observers say believes fervently in the need for permanent vigilance against the forces of witchcraft. Police say the pastor of the church was co-operative and disapproved strongly of the treatment of the girl.

Detective Inspector Brian Mather, who led the investigation, said: “This was a distressing case involving a child who suffered at the hands of adults who should have cared for and protected her. The girl is now healthy, happy and living with a foster family in London.”


# Theologians believe that there are hundreds of small, unregistered churches practising exorcisms across Britain
# In many African churches exorcism takes place after a “possessed” person has fasted for three days
# “Ndoki” is a term used throughout West Africa to describe witchcraft, or a possessed person
# In many African societies a medical condition that cannot be treated is often ascribed to the work of an evil-doer, or “ndoki”

# Children are specially susceptible to “ndoki”, which they can become by eating bread infected with an evil spirit
# Exorcism usually involves beating the victim, which has sometimes resulted in death

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 19,00.html


Dec 5, 2003
Detectives say that they have no way of gauging the true scale of the problem. They remain wary of inflaming relations with ethnic communities and lack the resources to police every suspicious home or place of worship.
Meaning they are scared of being called racists and anti religion.

(What about the sensible treatment of our islamic poplace then? is it because it is far easier to police a purley imaginary evil??)

Theologians believe that there are hundreds of small, unregistered churches practising exorcisms across Britain
Who are these Theologians?? Why isnt this more widley known??


Beloved of Ra
Aug 18, 2002
Well there are a lot more reports emerging which may answer some of your questions.

Its also interetsing to see they are drawing together rather diverse threads - like the Adam torso, the "300 missing boys in London" and Victoria Climbie. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Black magic fear grips Britain

05/06/2005 20:12 - (SA)

London - Police fear that dozens of children may be victims of black magic in Britain and a case last week of three adults found guilty of torturing a young girl whom they believed to be a "witch" is just the tip of the iceberg.

The ordeal suffered by the eight-year-old from Angola at the hands of her aunt and another woman and man is now over. Her abusers are due to be sentenced on July 8, and criminal court judge Christopher Moss warned on Friday that their prison term would be "lengthy".

But the case - in which the child was cut with a knife, beaten with a belt and shoe and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes to beat the devil out of her - has shone the spotlight on the issue of sorcery, a practice that is little documented by the police and the British justice system.

"There is a lack of understanding around this belief and the resultant abuse," said a recent police report by Scotland Yard, calling for cases of "ritualistic abuse" to be better recorded and treated in a specific manner.

The target in this document on "ndoki", the term used in western Africa to describe all forms of sorcery, is hundreds of churches, some of them tiny, which practice exorcism in London and around the rest of Britain.

The churches serve a variety of animist sects and more general forms of fundamental Christian beliefs.

"I think one of the things that should be looked at is whether these churches should be registered," said Richard Hoskins, an expert of African religion at King's College in London.

"Some of these churches go hand in glove with witchcraft," he said, fearing that "potentially there are hundreds of children at risk in London alone."

Scotland Yard, which has assigned a special team to explore the phenomenon of black magic - so called "Project Violet" - has only identified some 31 cases of ritual crimes since 2000, and of them only five have gone to court.

But the investigators fear that the problem is much larger. The police have said that some 300 African boys have disappeared from schools in London in recent years. While a majority of the children simply returned to their home countries, others are still missing.

In the latest abuse case, the eight-year-old victim, known in court as B, managed to survive repeated torture.

Another child however, named by the police as Adam, was not so fortunate.

His headless and limbless body was found in the River Thames in September 2001 in what is suspected as being a ritualistic killing.

Evidence found in the lower intestine of Adam - aged between four and six from Nigeria - was identified as being the highly poisonous calabar bean which police think may have been used to subdue him before his death.

Other contents in his stomach, including crushed bone, and clay pellets impregnated with gold and quartz, were also discovered.

Similarly Victoria Climbie, an eight-year-old from the Ivory Coast, was beaten to death in February 2000 after her aunt accused her of being a witch.

The belief that a child is possessed by the devil is regrettably "widespread", said Abdul Mohammed, a London-based member of an association for children in Africa.

Debbie Ariyo, another campaigner against child torture, claims to know of at least two dozen cases similar to that of child B.

Hundreds of churches "believe they need to inflict physical pain to make the body uncomfortable for the devil or spirit inside," she said.

Britain's social services, however, are also at fault.

In the case of Victoria Climbie, they had numerous opportunities to uncover the girl's suffering. Similarly with child B, a first medical check failed to spot 43 wounds.

An official version of events from the doctor in charge put the oversight down to the fact that the examination took place late in the afternoon, the light was bad and the doctor did not see the injuries.
www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-1 ... 31,00.html

Churches blamed for exorcism growth

An Old Bailey case has highlighted growing worries about the links between child abuse and religion, reports Tony Thompson

Sunday June 5, 2005
The Observer

The advertisement leaves little doubt about the strength of the Professor's powers. 'Your partner left you? She/he will be back and follow you like a dog obeys his master. Fast results.' Another aims to comfort those who fear they have been cursed, offering to 'break all types of black magic or witchcraft' while a third promises assistance with 'evil bothering'.

Although advertisements for psychics and tarot readers now appear in almost every newspaper, the spiritualists or 'marabouts' who aim their services at members of Britain's African community stand out because of the sheer bravado of their claims - demonic forces, infertility, business difficulties, immigration problems, weight loss and general bad luck can all be dealt with and results are guaranteed, apparently.

None of those contacted by The Observer yesterday was willing to speak on the record about their work but the sheer number of practitioners - they fill an entire page in the weekly newspaper, the Voice , indicates there is a substantial market for their services.

On Friday, the issue of spiritual belief within the African community was highlighted once more when Sita Kisanga and her brother Sebastian Pinto were found guilty at the Old Bailey of aiding and abetting the physical abuse of an eight-year-old girl. The girl's aunt, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of child cruelty. The court heard that the child, who was brought to Britain from Angola by her aunt after her parents died, had been beaten, cut and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes to 'beat the devil out of her'.

Kisanga, 35, accused alongside the child's 38-year-old aunt, and Pinto, 33, attended a Combat Spirituel church in Dalston, east London. The church belongs to a fundamentalist wing of Christianity and is believed to be one of at least 300 in the UK, mostly in London and mostly supported by people who originated from west Africa.

Many such churches sanction aggressive forms of exorcism involving physical contact with the possessed subject, though the Pastor at Combat Spirituel told police he did not condone the actions of Kisanga and the others.

Dr Richard Hoskins, an expert on African religions who gave evidence at the trial, told The Observer that these so-called 'breakaway churches' have much in common with other evangelical institutions. 'The services are usually exuberant and energetic. The congregation do not meet in a traditional church building. Instead they come together in a garage or someone's home.

'The key difference takes place when it comes to the practice of exorcism and it is here that potential abuse can occur. There will be shouting and the person being exorcised will often have convulsions. It is a lengthy process that can go on for hours. Another problem is that there seem to be two elements driving those at the head of these churches. One is money, the other is power and, unfortunately, these are opposing forces.'

Kisanga denied she had taken part in the beatings of the girl and said that she had tried to stop the abuse by the child's aunt. But she admitted that like the aunt she had believed that the girl was 'kendoki' - a witch.

'In our community, kendoki is killing people,' she said in an interview broadcast by Radio 5 Live yesterday. 'It is doing bad things. In our community in the UK everyone believes in it. In our country they believe in it too. Kendoki is something that you have to be scared of because, in our culture kendoki can kill you and destroy your life completely. Kendoki can make you barren, sometimes kendoki can ruin your chances of staying in this country.'

The case has striking similarities with that of Victoria Climbié, also eight, who was beaten, burnt with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bin liner inside an empty bath. She died in hospital in February 2000, suffering from hypothermia and malnutrition.

Both girls were brought to Britain from Africa by aunts claiming them as their own daughters and they were both mistreated, starved and traumatised after their guardians said they were possessed by the devil. In Victoria's case, she was taken to various spiritual churches where the congregations were asked to pray for her after she began throwing her faeces around in protest at her treatment.

Her plight was overlooked by police, social workers and medical staff and she died covered in bruises. Her great-aunt and her boyfriend were convicted of her murder and jailed for life at the Old Bailey. Two social workers dealing with her case were sacked. Social workers have also been criticised in the current case as the girl was briefly taken into care but later returned to her family.

The latest girl's ordeal also has echoes of the mystery of the dismembered body of a boy named 'Adam' by police who was found in the River Thames in September 2001 and is thought to have been the victim of a ritual killing. The Metropolitan Police says there is nothing to link the cases but officers are worried that they have not been able to trace 300 African boys who disappeared from London schools.

In response to the Kisanga case the Met has set up a project to combat some of the wilder claims of 'witchcraft' in African communities in the UK. Dubbed Project Violet, the scheme aims to prevent and detect ritualistic, faith-related child abuse, by engaging with African communities, initially in the east London boroughs of Newham and Hackney.

Detective Superintendent Chris Bourlet, deputy head of the Met's Child Abuse Investigation Command, said: 'Project Violet is going to look at ways of supporting communities and seeking ways of preventing this kind of abuse in the future. We have no idea of the scale of the problem because up to now, we have not always recorded the purpose of the abuse. How prevalent it is, we have still to find out.'

During the trial the court heard that the girl's aunt had an IQ that put her in the bottom one per cent of the population and was 'gullible and easily led'.

According to Debbie Ariyo, director of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, part of the blame lies with the churches who endorse such extreme beliefs. 'If a child is accused of being a witch and that accusation is endorsed by the church, it gives people leeway to perpetrate abuse on that child. Either directly or indirectly, if a church confirms someone's status as a witch, they are condoning abuse.'

Leading theologian Dr Robert Beckford, who presented the controversial Channel 4 documentary God is Black , told The Observer that he is greatly disturbed by the way African beliefs are being portrayed as a result of the case. 'First of all we have to draw a clear line between biblical exorcism, which does not involve any kind of physical contact, and child abuse, which unfortunately does,' he said. 'From a purely theological point of view, what they did was wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that if someone is possessed with a demon, you have to beat it out of them. This was clearly a case of child abuse and no one in their right mind would ever condone that.

'Yet at the same time, some of the coverage reminds me of the racist 19th-century anthropological literature. West Africans are not the only people who believe in demonic possession or the existence of evil spirits. The Anglican church believes in those things too and so does the Evangelical Alliance. The attitude seems to be that if the people supporting the beliefs have PhDs then they are sensible but if they are working class people from Africa then they must be mad.'

The girl at the centre of the case is now 10 years old and living with foster parents and is outwardly thriving, but her mental scars are still there. According to detectives, she is still traumatised by her experience and the mere mention of witchcraft sends her into floods of tears.
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/ ... 67,00.html

The dark side of religious belief

Published: 4 Jun 2005
By: Simon Israel

Three people have been found guilty of child creulty to a gilr they calimed was a witch. But witchcraft is common, as Simon Israel reports.

For the police the Old Bailey trial is a success but for the child protection agencies child abuse motivated by witchcraft is a worrying sign.

Detective Superintendent Chris Bourlet, Head of Child Protection, Metropolitan Police, said: "This case has raised a number of issues regarding belief. I'm very clear that it is not the role of the police to judge belief but to investigate crimes against children."

Body maps show the scale of the crimes inflicted on the privately fostered girl from the Congo region, who was eight at the time. She is lucky to be alive.

She is the victim of an overpowering mix of African tradition and Christian fundamentalism in an area the authorities have little or no contact with. There is to be inquiry into the role of Hackney social services.

She was found by chance dishevelled on the steps of a council block in East London - near her home. She had been kicked, cut with knife, beaten with a belt, fed on just tea and bread and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes because of a belief she was possessed by an African spirit Kindoki.

The girl's tormentors were ashamed and afraid to show their faces. One is a distance aunt who posed as her mother when they claimed asylum in Britain.

Another who has already settled here is a distance relative from the Congolese capital Kinshasa and third is that woman's brother. All were today found guilty of child cruelty.

What convinced the jury was the testimony of the victim. Her videoed police interviews revealed awful tales of torture because she was deemed to be infected with witchcraft.

She said: "Well my auntie said that my mum and me have got witchcraft. I said no we haven't but auntie said we are.

"It's a mark from a knife, she just, my mum was there, just the end of the knife just the tip of the knife. I sit in the corner because they were always standing up and after that I was bleeding from this one and I just sit down like that because I didn't have no vest. One kicked me one slapped me one pushed me."

She described to police how in this room, she was forced into the laundry bag, which lay in the corner. She said the two women then zipped it up and were preparing to throw her from their balcony into the local canal.

But this is not an isolated case. In the background of the Victoria Climbie tragedy lurked possession, bad spirits and exorcism. And ritualistic sacrifice became the explanation in the 'Adam' torso case.

These two women have dealt at least a dozen cases involving witchcraft including this latest one over the past two years. One is a social worker, the other runs a charity for Congolese women refugees.

Amma Anane-Agyei, specialist social worker told Channel 4 News: "Kidoki is rooted in traditional African religion which is a belief in possession and in this case we are talking about spirits. This problem has been internalised by the black African evangelical churches."

Marianne Fimbo, Congolese refugees Women's Association said: "The diagnosis comes from the churches from the pastors because it is only the pastor who can tell you are possessed.

The Metropolitan Police is preparing to publish a report into these very issues. Hackney, where the girl was found, is one of two London boroughs it is focused on.

Channel Four News understands the report will make scary reading. It has a section entitled children possessed where it says: "the pastors consulted, acknowledged that children labelled as possessed are in danger of being beaten by their families. However they would not accept that they were playing a major role in inciting such violence."

Click next for the second part of Simon Israel's report plus excerpts from Jon Snow's discussion expert Dr Richard Hoskins.

The dark side of religious belief

Published: 4 Jun 2005
By: Simon Israel

This is the second part of Simon Israel's report plus excerpts from Jon Snow's discussion with Richard Hoskins, an expert on African religions.

We found a deliverance video on sale in North London. It was produced by the Faith and Victory Church, run by a Congolese pastor Morya. In the film he claims to be inside a London hospital.

The woman interviewed at her bedside believes can she fly into peoples houses and infect them with witchcraft. The video features another woman, the pastor claims is a patient at the same hospital. We showed the film to Doctor Richard Hoskyns an expert used by the prosecution in the Old Bailey case and speaks the Congolese language of lingala. Her story is even more incredible.

At the end, Pastor Morya and his assistants perform a deliverance service in the hospital room to rid this woman of her demons

We had no evidence this church was in any way involved with or encouraged child abuse.

These DVDs are easily available in boroughs like Hackney. It's a lucrative business in fear and power. The communities are well aware such witchcraft as they describe is being practised in some churches.

The question many face is just what can they do when's there little trust and no established links with the authorities.

Mor Dioum, from the Victoria Climbie Foundation, told C4 News: "The health protection agencies need to exchange with these communities, to open dialogue with them to try to understand where they are coming from and to try to understand what witchcraft is all about."

The Victoria Climbie Inquiry which prompted a sea change in child protection steered well away from religion in spite of several submissions warning of dangerous ritual practices going on.

The Crown Prosecution Service has dealt with five cases in the last year.

Witchcraft is not a crime but the three convicted today are facing prison terms for the horrors they inflicted on a child because of it.

Jon Snow: You argue that this is quite young in Africa.

Richard Hoskins: The belief in witchcraft is not new, it's been held for many centuries but the way of dealing with it is wholly new it is really taken off in the new churches that have given it a new and dangerous twist.

Snow: Where does it spring from?

Hoskins: What's happening is the new fundamentalist churches springing up in sub-Saharan Africa are pushing this line because of evangelists wanting power and also it is preying on vulnerable people and we should not dismiss the aspect of poverty people are going through desperate straits.

So it is a very heady concoction of African traditional belief and this powerful outside agency. I do wonder about the influence of evangelical churches over here.

Snow: One can understand perhaps the confusion among vulnerable people who are impoverished but when you translate it to London, what are we dealing with here. Here it is almost commercial exploitation.

Hoskins: There are aspects of power and money involved in this. What is the problem here is the great sea of unknowing. Every time I deal with a case, everyone in the community says it is just the tip of the iceberg.

With this great cloud of unknowing, for example with missing children, you can stay with foster parents without that being registered and it needs to be properly investigated.

These things need to be investigated. One of the homes I went to in the DR Congo, they were beaming in the Gilbert Dei ministry's teaching by satellite.

We need a much wider umbrella to look at this. We've got away from this 60s mentality we can't look at this because it's touching people's beliefs but where children are involved and matters of abuse, it doesn't matter what colour they are and I think the majority of Africans I know would say the same thing, this is about the welfare of children and that's paramount.
www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/s ... jsp?id=228


The Guadalupe Witch story

Mexican Policeman Attacked
By A Flying Humanoid Entity

Dear Jeff,

This story certainly has been causing a great stir here in the city of Monterrey, N.L. Mexico and I would like you to know the facts involving a police officer , a flying humanoid entity and a mobilization of police forces in a bizarre, unprecedent incident. - Santiago.

It was very early in the morning 3:15 AM on Friday January 16, 2004 when police officer Leonardo Samaniego from Guadalupe, N.L. Mexico was doing his daily vigilance routine in his patrol car around Colonia Valles de la Silla not knowing the shocking experience that he was about to live, a true drama that he will never forget.

The night was cold and dark and the streets were empty when Samaniego made a turn onto Alamo street and immediately noticed something very unusual.

A huge, black object fell from a tree beside the street but it stopped just before touching the ground...and then slowly landed and turned itself to face the patrol car. At that moment, officer Samaniego knew that something was wrong. So he turned on the high beams of his car to try to see what was this black object that fell from the tree was.

That's when Samaniego's nightmare began.

"It was a woman...all dressed in black that fell from the tree but she didn't touch the ground, just remained floating several feet from the ground, declared officer Leonardo Samaniego. I saw her very well and then she landed softly on the ground and stood there looking at me. She was trying to cover her face from the lights of the car, I think they were bothering her. I could see two big black eyes on her, completely black without eyelids, and her skin was dark brown. She was all dressed in black with cloak and cape like a witch and she seemed very upset by the lights."

In a matter of seconds, the scene turned into a terrific sequence of events almost like a horror movie...but all too real. The being jumped very fast over to - and onto - Samaniego's patrol car trying to get at him while the shocked police officer tried to runaway in reverse while shouting desperately for back-up assistance on his radio.

Stunned Officer's Eyewitness Description

Here is officer Samaniego's testimonial of these terrifying seconds that for him must have seemed like a never-ending nightmare.

"As soon as I realized it was a kind of woman being, or a witch, very strange standing there trying to cover her face, she threw herself against my car very fast, falling on the car and hitting the windshield. She was flying very fast and it took only a second to hit the windshield glass. I was so shocked by this action that I put the car in reverse and pushed the accelerator trying to get away while requesting backup assistance by radio."

According to officer Samaniego's statement, the female being was trying to grab him with her hands right through the car's windshield. She was separated from the officer by only the few centimeters of the car's windshield. It was at this moment that officer Samaniego got his best visual look at the being he described as a "witch".

"It was a woman with big black eyes, everything was black, no eyelids. Her skin was dark brown and her expression was horrible. She was furiously trying to get me with her claws while I was running away in reverse calling desperately for backup assistance to any units around. When I finally hit the end of the street, I was so shocked that I covered my eyes and then I fainted."

Officer Leonardo Samaniego lost consciousness after he covered his eyes trying not to see the frightening being still glued to the windshield trying to get to him. The severe amount of high stress experienced by him caused him to pass out.

Some minutes later, two police units arrived as well as an ambulance that was nearby. When they got to the patrol car they found officer Samaniego unconscious. Fortunately, he was not injured, perhaps due to the fact that he never abandoned the car during the incident. That decision may have prevented a tragedy.

After several minutes, he regained consciousness and was attended by the paramedics on the ambulance. A tv camera crew that arrived with a police unit recorded officer Samaniego's first interview just minutes after he felt calmed enough - during the interrogation by his police colleagues. All this occurred at the same place of the bizarre incident. Officer Samaniego stood firmly on his account, insisting that the being was a witch that could fly and attacked him and his patrol car.

Note - One look at the young officer's stunned and shocked facial expression speaks volumes. -ed

An extensive search was done around the area by the police units trying to find any tracks or evidence of the mysterious female being but nothing was found. The ambulance took officer Samaniego to the Hospital Universitario for a medical evaluation and he remained there all day.

Drug Tests And Psychological Tests All Negative

The Secretary of Public Security of Guadalupe, Mr. Hamlet Castilla Garcia, informed that several drug tests as well as other examinations were conducted on officer Leonardo Samaniego to check for any toxic substances in his body like alcohol or any kind of drug. All tests were negative.

Also, Dr. Edelmiro Perez Rodriguez who is coordinator of medical services in Hospital Universitario informed that after several psychiatric and psychological examinations they found officer Leonardo Samaniego mentally and physically healthy.

Guadalupe mayor, Mr. Juan Francisco Rivera, declared the next day that Samaniego is a fine police officer in the department and there is no reason whatever to think that he would have invented such a story. But he added that maybe it was an excess of work or too much stress that made him believe what he saw, not necessarily what really happened. He said that life sometimes puts people in weird situations that we can't explain.

Needless to say that the story broke in the television headlines the next day and a the people of the community awoke to a great controversy. Local tv channels 2 and 34 took the story very seriously and decided to cover all the incidents and follow the case in a huge display of information through all of their newscasts for the next days. The people's response was great and literally hundreds of reports and testimonials of similar things sighted arrived at the tv station. Several witnesses were interviewed saying that they saw the mysterious black being flying over their homes.

Other Officers Saw The Same Being 3 Days Earlier

A police officer from Santa Catarina, N.L., Mr. Jorge Contreras, declared that he and two more policemen from the Regia Police saw EXACTLY the same flying being that officer Samaniego saw, but three days before. They saw it flying and decided not to say anything - until they heard about this case.

Norma Alicia Herrera who lives in Colonia La Playa declared in a tv interview that she and her brother saw also the being flying at daytime and that it looked weird. She said that her brother was so stunned by the sighting that he was sick for almost a week afterwards.

A neighbor in that sector also videotaped, several days before, a strange flying humanoid being and gave the video to the tv station. The footage was released the same day during the newscast of channel 34 and later on channel 2 causing even more commotion among the people.

The story was also released by major newspapers like El Norte and Milenio. The same Friday, January 16, special surveillance units were stationed where the incident took place and streets surrounding as an operative to protect the neighbors in case an eventual new attack. At the same time, an investigation was initiated by the Public Security Corporation in Guadalupe. Police officer Leonardo Samaniego remained in seclusion receiving his treatment for the next two days when he was interviewed again on tv, maintaining his story in every detail.

Further Research

According to the being's description and characteristics as given by Samaniego - especially those of the eyes - I looked in my archives for any similar cases trying to sustain the theory of the humanoid encounter. I found the classic case from Flatwoods, West Virginia in 1952. The drawings are very similar to what officer Samaniego declared attacked him. Of course, the Mothman story came to mind, also from West Virginia but in 1966 - a still unsolved case of a strange humanoid. These are famous cases that remain an enigma.

Reviewing the footage taken by a witness of the strange flying entity, I found the shape of this being or object very unusual in terms of any ufological analogy but not so in my dossier of evidences of cases in which I have found similar reports of humanoid shaped entities or beings. Here in Mexico, we have been witness to several cases of extremely rare humanoid-shaped flying things, objects, entities, beings or whatever the definition may be. We simply don't have any idea what these strange figures are that resemble a human flying in the sky without parachute or any propulsion device, defying all known laws of physics.

These kinds of things have been witnessed and taped more than a few times here in Mexico and we still don't have any clue of what this next level phenomena may represent. The case of officer Samaniego is now another challenge to confront and most probably will remain inconclusive and unexplained.

But we have witnesses, evidence and testimonials that something very real and weird is happening in the sky, and now among us, maybe a frightening menace or just an encounter with the unknown. In any case, Friday January 16, 2004 will remain seared in officer Leonardo Samaniego's memory as the night that he confronted the horror of encountering the unknown.

Santiago Yturria
Monterrey, N.L. Mexico s
[email protected]
there are some pics here:



Justified & Ancient
Sep 25, 2003
Family jailed for torture of a girl they called Devil

THREE people who tortured an eight-year-old girl they accused of being a witch have been jailed at the Old Bailey.
The girl’s two aunts wept as they were jailed for ten years each. Her uncle was jailed for four years for aiding and abetting child cruelty against the girl.

Judge Christopher Moss told them that they had mounted a campaign of cruelty that amounted to torture. He added: “It is the very pinnacle of cruelty to a child that demands the maximum sentence.”

The 40-year-old woman who had brought the girl to England from Africa in 2002, and who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been found guilty of four charges of cruelty after an earlier trial.

Her cousin, Sita Kisanga, 35, of Hackney, East London, was found guilty of three charges of aiding and abetting child cruelty. The women were cleared of conspiracy to murder the girl.

Kisanga’s brother, Sebastian Pinto, 33, of Stoke Newington, North London, was found guilty of one charge of aiding and abetting. The girl said that she was beaten, cut with a knife and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes to “beat the Devil out of her”.

The woman had placed her in a laundry bag and told her she would be thrown into a river to drown. The orphan was brought to Britain from Angola by her aunt who told authorities that she was the girl’s mother.

But after going to live with Kisanga, she was accused of witchcraft and beaten with a belt by the woman she called “Mum”.

The orphan was beaten until she was made to admit that she had been practising witchcraft, and is still traumatised by the experience.

After she was terrorised in the council flat in Hackney, area wardens found her shivering in bare feet on the steps, in November 2003. She told them she was hungry and later told police that she had been surviving on tea and bread.

During the trial, the girl, who is now 10 and in foster care, gave evidence via video link.

She said: “In my mind, I will never forget what happened.”

The girl said that Kisanga cornered her in the kitchen and told her “today you die”. She said that her “Mum” pulled a little knife out “and she did little marks. I was bleeding.”

The girl said that the adults gathered in a circle around her. “One kicked me, one slapped me and one pushed me,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘What have I done?’.”

She said later that “they were putting me in the bag to throw me away”.

She said: “My Mum said why don’t they throw me away? Water will be good.” It was then that Pinto warned them that children in Britain had rights and they changed their minds, she said.
Patricia May, for the prosecution, said that the witchcraft allegation would not be taken seriously by most people in Britain.

But the two women had taken it very seriously indeed.

All three were failed asylum-seekers who were unemployed.

Jill Evans, for the first defendant, said that she had been brought up on superstition and had been influenced by a church that she had been introduced to by Kisanga.

Anthony Berry, QC, for Kisanga, said that she was a lonely and bewildered woman who spent her life at a North London church where she spent time discussing witchcraft with others.

Outside court she told a radio reporter: “In our community, ndoki (witchcraft) happens because it is killing people.

“In our community in the UK everyone believes in it.

“Ndoki is something that you have to be scared of because in our culture it can kill you and destroy your life completely.”

After the case, the police established Project Violet to look at similar crimes involving religious beliefs. Liberty, the civil rights group, called for an inquiry, saying: “Religious freedom is not without limits.”

David Pearson, the executive director of the Churches’ Child Protection advisory group said: “Abuse is abuse and must never be overlooked or excused on cultural or religious grounds.

“We hope that the sentences imposed today will deter anybody else tempted to ‘beat the Devil’ out of a child.”

Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, chairman of the Council of Black-led Churches in Birmingham, said: “The African faith community has been horrified by this case of child abuse.

“Any religious practice or belief that harms children cannot be justified or excused.”


Justified & Ancient
Sep 25, 2003
Congo's child victims of superstition

By Angus Crawford
BBC, DR Congo

Poverty, civil war and a widely held belief in witchcraft means children in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be extremely vulnerable. Angus Crawford hears the stories of some of the young victims in the capital, Kinshasa.

When Maria starts to cry, she does not make a sound. She sits rigid and silent, staring straight ahead.

She allows just a trickle of tears from each eye. She does not even blink.

She has good reason to be sad.

Three years ago, she lived in London and went to primary school. She still has photographs of the friends she made there.

But her stepmother made a discovery - she decided Maria was possessed, that she had what the Congolese call "kindoki" - witchcraft.


Her father bought a single ticket and within days Maria was getting off a plane in Kinshasa.

Poverty, ignorance and a twisting of traditional beliefs mean Maria is now a pariah

She spoke little French and almost none of the local language, Lingalla. She was told it was just a holiday.

When I track her down, three years later, she is living in a two-room house in one of the poorest areas of the city. She shares it with 29 members of her extended family.

She has braided hair and a shy smile, and is fashion-conscious like only girls desperate to be teenagers can be.

She is dressed in shocking lime green from head to toe.

The tears only start when I ask her what she remembers of the night she arrived back in the city.

It is the terror of that chaotic airport, with its bribe-taking officials, its guards and their guns, the choking heat, the pungent smells.

A seven-year-old girl abandoned and lost. You can read it all on her face.

Street children

Maria, at least, has a roof over her head.

Christian, like 20,000 other street children here, sleeps anywhere he can.

He is tiny. He looks about five or six but tells me he is nine.

He is filthy and his clothes are in tatters.

When he speaks I can barely hear him. Because I am an adult - and so command respect - he calls me "Papa".

I ask him why his family threw him out. Again that word "kindoki" - witchcraft.

Objects of fear

His grandmother says he tried to eat another relative. He tells me that all he hopes for in life now is for the bad spirits to leave him.

I asked pastors how they knew a child was a witch - the answer was almost always that God had shown them

It seems extraordinary but aid agencies believe the vast majority of street children are there for the same reason, as are countless others in orphanages.

It is almost as though this country is in the grip of a collective paranoia, where children have become objects of fear.

It is not that the Congolese do not love their children. Of course they do, they are still the heart of community life.

But the belief in a second, invisible world where witchcraft thrives is widely held.

Combine that with a country in economic freefall, where the extended family is collapsing under the weight of Aids and poverty.

Remember, too, that the foot soldiers of the armies which deposed former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, were children.

Social cleansing

The image of pre-pubescent boys with machine-guns striding into Kinshasa is etched onto people's memories. They call them the "Kadogos", which very roughly translates as, the "little ones".

Add to that an explosion of evangelical Christian churches which advocate muscular - sometimes violent - exorcism, and you have a gigantic exercise in social cleansing.

And often it is the children who become the scapegoats for all society's ills.

For salvation from these so called "witch children", many families turn to people like Mama Gena.

She is obviously powerful.

It is not just her three mobile phones or even her two designer handbags. Her diamond encrusted watch is impressive too, almost as impressive as the picture of her in police uniform hanging above her desk.

Exorcisms for a fee

But her real power comes from the fact that she is a self-appointed prophetess, who will both identify your child as a witch and then perform an exorcism - for a fee, of course.

And business appears to be good.

Congolese friends tell me her ceremonies are mild. She only starves her charges for five days.

Other pastors burn, hit and sexually abuse the children. Some are killed.

Again and again, I asked pastors how they could tell that a child was a witch. The answer was almost always that God showed them.

The head of one non-governmental organisation put it more bluntly. If you are too fat or too thin, too quiet or too noisy, if you wet the bed or you are disabled as a child you are at risk.

Even more so if you are not a blood relation of the person pointing the finger. It is no surprise that stepmothers frequently appear as the chief accusers.

If they are not yours and you cannot feed them, they are possessed.

So Maria really has good reason to weep.

Poverty, ignorance and a twisting of traditional beliefs mean she is now a pariah.

She knows her old life in London with her school friends is over. Her new life in Kinshasa is one of poverty, fear and the threat of disease.

And so she cries because, she says, she wants to go home.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 30 July, 2005 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.


Abominable Snowman
Oct 12, 2003
Follow Up Story:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5002054.stm

Witchcraft and the 'missing' report
By Dominic Casciani
BBC News community affairs

Abuse: A police diagram of injuries inflicted to "Child B"
Last year, stories emerged that African preachers were sacrificing children in secret church ceremonies in the UK. Today, we still don't know the full truth behind those claims - and African churches say the government isn't doing more to help them root out child abusers posing as Christian leaders.
No one who last June heard the story of "Child B" would have failed to have been moved.

The eight-year-old child, brought to the UK from Angola, was beaten, cut and had chilli rubbed in her eyes after her aunt and two others believed she was a witch.

The girl's aunt, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and two others, Sita Kisanga and Sebastian Pinto, were jailed - but the case sparked widespread fears over whether a new form of child abuse centred on African "healing" customs had arrived in Britain.

Child B was not the first such child abuse case to emerge from African communities. The appalling death of Victoria Climbie in February 2000 included an element of belief in possession and witchcraft. Separately, police are still investigating the identity of "Adam", the torso of a Nigerian boy found in 2001.

And amid these terrible stories, and fears of others, there remains enormous confusion over the extent of the problem.

A Metropolitan Police report last year suggested that abuse linked to churches was rife. That report largely detailed hearsay, claims and community fears and was intended to help police officers target their efforts. But some campaigners accused the authors of a "racist witch-hunt" against African communities.

We feel hurt by this - it's as if we have been demonised and put outside the mainstream Christian fellowship, as if we are not being recognised as proper Christians

Pastor Jean Bosco

Congolese Christians 'demonised'
And so, a year on, nobody is nearer the truth. Except perhaps for the Department for Education and Skills (DFES).

At a conference on Monday, leaders of Congolese churches in Britain are calling on ministers to urgently publish research they commissioned into the allegations of witchcraft and possession.

The research is understood to have been completed and is sitting on a desk somewhere in the department.

A spokesman for the DFES, which has responsibility for child protection policy, says it is being considered by ministers, but will give no publication date, despite widespread expectations that it would have been released in March. Recently revised guidelines from the department do however underline that faith groups should have child protection policies in place.

Agu Irukwu is the lead pastor at Jesus House in north London, one of the largest African-led Pentecostal churches in Britain. He says uncertainty over the allegations - and absence of the government's findings, is undermining an entire community that now feels labelled child abusers.

"It is extremely important to have this research published," said Pastor Irukwu, one of the organisers of Monday's conference on combating allegations of the occult within the British African diaspora.

"We don't know the truth and real extent of what we are dealing with, and rumours are beginning to run rife. We are concerned that unless the government handles this wisely, it could in fact drive a wedge between black-majority churches and the wider society, particularly when the newer churches are beginning to make their contributions in addressing some of society's problems.

'We want to help to facilitate positive steps towards finding and applying meaningful solutions, but we cannot do so if the government does not consult with us adequately."

Widespread problem?

African churches are the fastest growing sector of Christianity in Britain, not least because of growth of the communities themselves.

" ... Overpowers witchcraft ... I can try to help you break the powers of Black Magic cast on you and help prevent you from becoming a victim ... he will help you with protection against enemies, exorcism, no false hope ... I know the most powerful spells - I can cure people of evil forces and witchcraft ..."

Excerpts from leaflets from some spiritual healers operating in London
Many of these new communities have developed in vulnerable circumstances - almost all of the estimated 20,000 Congolese in the UK arrived as asylum seekers and refugees - and the popular churches are part of networks that provide support to the beleaguered amid uncertainty.

But at the same time, other entirely separate beliefs are present in the UK which, according to experts, masquerade as Christianity and prey on the most alienated and isolated members of society.

Parts of London with large African populations are regularly leafleted by traditional "spiritual healers" calling themselves "Doctor" or "Professor".

Some of these healers, who also advertise in the African media, say they can tackle "black magic" - although most claim to be experts in little more than broken relationships.

But according to experts it is within this world of fearful fragile communities that "healers" who go beyond the Christian concepts of possession and exorcism have been plying their trade. Some of them are presenting themselves as upstanding Christian leaders in order to gain power and influence.

Sita Kisanga: Convicted of aiding and abetting cruelty to "Child B"
David Pearson of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, an expert body which connects faith groups to authorities, says that he has found Congolese church leaders looking for all the support they can get in rooting out these healers.

In the wake of the 2005 allegations, Mr Pearson's organisation, backed by the Metropolitan Police, met Congolese pastors about professional child protection training.

They agreed an initial plan to train 60 pastors in London this spring. Such has been the community's concerns, some 230 churchmen signed up for the course in how to spot child abuse.

"These are relatively new communities and many of them don't speak English as a first language," he says.

"They were already feeling alienated - and what they told us was that they felt excluded from society - but very much wanted to be part of it.

"The child sacrifice allegations have alienated them even further because they have all been tarred with the same brush."

Cases in context

But Detective Inspector Bob Pull of the Metropolitan Police does not underestimate the complexity of the problems faced by both communities and the authorities.


We know that ndoki does exist - back home and everywhere else too there are people who are used by the devil to bring a curse or bad luck to other people's lives, even to kill them

Pastor Modeste Muyulu

'Exorcism is part of our culture
Insp Bull, who is also a Christian pastor, is a member of Project Violet, the Met's unit investigating faith-related child abuse.

Of the 42,000 child abuse allegations the Met has dealt with in the past five years, 52 of them were related to allegations against African spiritualists offering "deliverance" from possession. Eight of these have ended up in court, although other investigations resulted in action by social services.

Insp Bull says that much of his work has involved working with Congolese and Angolan church leaders to educate the vulnerable in how to quickly identify behaviour that should not be part of a Christian ministry.

"There is a section of society that has got so much respect for pastors [as community leaders] that some of these figures have got too much authority and power," says Insp Bull.

"We [police and bona fide African churches] are working together to challenge them on their theology - when someone quotes the Bible at me, I can quote it back at them."

"I have been encouraged by the people I am working with - the amount of time they have spent talking to the police and others is a really significant shift in terms of the community's involvement.

"But I'm not naive - there are individuals within the communities who will disregard what [Christian leaders] say and still be involved in child abuse.

"But let's be clear, there is no excuse for child abuse in any context which is why we are working with the communities to both educate and enforce the law."


Parish Watch
Staff member
Oct 29, 2002
East of Suez
Following on:

Witchcraft' study prompts action

The murder of Victoria Climbie highlighted the belief in witchcraft
Action to tackle child abuse linked to "witchcraft" accusations has been stepped up following a report into the issue, the government says.

The government-commissioned study into cases among UK African communities said belief in witchcraft was widespread.

But the number of child abuse cases as a result was small compared with the overall figure, researchers said.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said any cases of abuse would not be tolerated.

"Child abuse can never be acceptable in any culture, any community, in any circumstance," Ms Hughes said.

A comprehensive multi-agency strategy had already been put in place to speed up identification of cases and deal with the perpetrators, Ms Hughes said.

And a new project funded by the government would intensify efforts to tackle the problem in London, she added.

The report by Eleanor Stobart was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills in the wake of high-profile court cases involving the abuse of African children following allegations of witchcraft.

It follows a controversial Metropolitan Police report last year suggesting that abuse linked to churches was rife.


The report, Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of Possession and Witchcraft, examined cases of abuse which occurred since January 2000.

It identified 74 cases of abuses linked to witchcraft allegations, many of which had common factors - such as a child being scapegoated, family structure and disability.

"By recognising these patterns and links it may be possible to identify children at risk early and prevent cases from escalating," the report states.

The report makes five principal recommendations, saying national and local government should:

* Maintain a central record of child abuse cases linked to witchcraft allegations
* Collect better information about the movement of children in and out of the UK
* Ensure places of worship have child protection procedures in place
* Encourage the preparation of "good practice" guidelines by agencies in the field
* Forge better links with non-governmental organisations

The report has been welcomed by a church child welfare group.

David Person of the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service said the vast majority of established African churches took seriously their responsibility to safeguard children, but newer groups needed to be targeted.

"Many of these congregations are made up of people who are relatively recent arrivals to the UK who have not addressed the issues," Mr Pearson said.



Junior Acolyte
Aug 13, 2005
Im not a witch, Im not a witch. They just dressed me up like one. And I dont weigh the same as a duck. :madeyes:
Mar 8, 2007
Who do you label as a witch and why?

I know that there is an area for user blogs now but it seemed appropriate to publicize one here.


I have set up this blog to explore who people label as witches and why. It's very much in its infancy. If you are interested in the nature of the witch and the relationship between witches and the community please contribute.
Mar 8, 2007
The Daily Times
5 July 2007


Three to serve 42 months jail for witchcraft
12:51:17 - 05 July 2007

A NKHATA BAY court has sentenced three people to 42 months in prison each on charges of teaching children witchcraft for about two years.

The three, Pekamu Dende Banda, 72, Nyampata Dende Banda, 64, and Leah Nyimba, 68, all from Mung’oma Village, Chief Mkumbira in Nkhata Bay, were nabbed for allegedly teaching children witchcraft.

“The three appeared before Second Grade Magistrate Billy Ngosi in Nkhata Bay after being charged with the crime of Pretending Witchcraft. They denied the allegations but Ngosi found all of them guilty,” said northern region police spokesperson, John Namalenga.

According to him, the magistrate said it was imperative that a stiff sentence be meted on the convicts in order to reduce cases of witchcraft in the district.

Court and police records indicate that three children aged 11, 6 and 4, disclosed to their parents that they were tired of being taught witchcraft.

Prior to the disclosure, one of the parents told court that she used to find her daughter outside their house early morning each day. After being quizzed, the girl, 11, revealed that the suspects were flying her through witchcraft to different destinations during the night.

The other two children complained to their parents on May 2 that they were tired of flying with the suspects at night. They also disclosed that when they refused to fly, the three witchcraft trainers would always beat them.

When the matter was taken to the village head, the suspects admitted to the allegations. Later, the suspects refused to attend a cleansing ceremony when chiefs in the area called for a witchdoctor.

The matter, according to Namalenga, was then referred to police, where a charge of Pretending Witchcraft was opened.

“The witchdoctor surrendered the charms and the clothes the convicts used in their trade, which were treated as exhibits in court,” said Namalenga.

Copyright @ 2005 BNL Limited, Malawi


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
Under the moon
Village primary's witch logo scares students
By Ben Farmer
Last Updated: 7:10am BST 17/04/2008

A village school is to scrap its historic witch logo because of fears that it drives away pupils and teachers.

Warboys Community Primary School has used the emblem of a witch riding a broomstick on its uniforms for more than 60 years.

Warboys is the last recorded place in England where witches were hanged
The unusual badge, which also adorns the clocktower and kits of sports teams, marks the fact that the Cambridgeshire village was the last place in England to hang witches.

But the school's governing body wants to get rid of the logo as part of measures to give it a "fresh start" after suffering poor inspection reports.

A statement from the school claimed: "The school is aware that some parents choose not to send their children to Warboys and cite the witch as one of the reasons why.

"It is also known that some potential teachers and head teachers have cited the witch logo as a reason not to apply for posts."

The school added: "Witchcraft and Hallowe'en does not form part of the school curriculum and is something schools go out of their way to avoid."

However, the decision by governors has caused concern in the village, where residents have collected a petition of more than 1,000 names protesting at the change.

The parish council has also expressed "major concerns" at the move. Jill Pierce, the owner of the village post office, said: "This has gone well outside the school now.

"All our customers are signing the petition, some from other villages.

"Customers who have been here a long time feel it is a threat to their history."

Sally Pryke, a councillor, said: "I can't believe that the people who are responsible for our children's education are so blinkered.

"Parents said they would rather money was spent on the children's education, school books and equipment than replacing the logo." Villagers say that teachers are put off by the school's poor reputation rather than its logo.

Martin Kelsey, the head teacher charged with improving the school, said: "From the villagers' point of view, it's an emotive issue, because they are very, very proud of their history."

Warboys is the last recorded place in England where witches were hanged.

Alice Samuels, in her late 70s, her husband John and her daughter Agnes were executed in 1593 after being accused by a 10-year-old girl, her four sisters and servants of causing them to have fits.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ool117.xml
Aug 10, 2005
rynner said:
Village primary's witch logo scares students
By Ben Farmer
Last Updated: 7:10am BST 17/04/2008

A village school is to scrap its historic witch logo because of fears that it drives away pupils and teachers.

Warboys Community Primary School has used the emblem of a witch riding a broomstick on its uniforms for more than 60 years.

Warboys is the last recorded place in England where witches were hanged
The unusual badge, which also adorns the clocktower and kits of sports teams, marks the fact that the Cambridgeshire village was the last place in England to hang witches.

But the school's governing body wants to get rid of the logo as part of measures to give it a "fresh start" after suffering poor inspection reports.

A statement from the school claimed: "The school is aware that some parents choose not to send their children to Warboys and cite the witch as one of the reasons why.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ool117.xml
Now, this really should be over on the 'Political Correctness Gone Mad Thread.'

The school gets a bad inspection report and these 'Governors' try to blame it on the school logo! :shock:

As if re-branding is going to help. :roll:


Justified & Ancient
Dec 31, 2003
Okay, isn't anybody boggled by the fact that this town is proud to have committed this form of judicial murder longer than anywhere else in the country? It's as if some town in the U.S. had a "Strange Fruit" logo of a man dangling from a tree.


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
Under the moon
PeniG said:
Okay, isn't anybody boggled by the fact that this town is proud to have committed this form of judicial murder longer than anywhere else in the country?
Well, when the logo was first used, many generations had passed since the last 'judicial murder' ( ;) ), so nobody in this century is going to feel any personal responsibility or guilt for it.

The logo merely represents an historical fact, and if you want to put a positive spin on it, it could represent "Thank goodness we're not so superstitious now, and are no longer so cruel."

"Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it" (or whatever the saying is).