Panic grips West Pokot over oathing ceremonies

Residents have complained that they are being forced to take an oath to "reveal witches and sorcerers" in the county. [Courtesy]
Residents have complained that they are being forced to take an oath to "reveal witches and sorcerers" in the county.

Already, four people have been arrested for administering the ritual, which involves drinking animal blood and other concoctions. The four were arrested at a home in Suam ward.

Loriso Musa said those who refused to take the oath had fled their homes and that elders were taking advantage of the situation to confiscate their property.

“My neighbour's goats and cows were taken away. People are being frog-marched and forced to drink the concoctions," he said.

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West Pokot County Pastors' Network chairman Ronald Chumum condemned the rituals, pointing out that the Bible forbade Christians from engaging in such practices.

Rev Chumum claimed that some residents had been subjected to emotional trauma and others sent away from the community for failing to take the oath.

“I encourage Christians to resist this. We have reported the matter to security officers after a public uproar over the bizarre traditional activity," he said.

Demanding justice

He noted that some residents were now demanding justice after being subjected to the rituals.

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"Some people were worshiping at AIC Nakwomoru Church and were forcefully removed from the church, beaten up and asked to drink the concoctions,” he said.

Confirming the reports, Kapenguria OCPD Athony Wanjuu said residents were being ordered to take the concoctions to test if they were involved in witchcraft.

“Some bizarre traditional activities are taking place in some parts of Kacheliba constituency. It is reported that the area is adversely affected by witchcraft and as a result, the elders have vowed to administer an oath,” he said.

“Everyone, including the clergy, is supposed to undergo the ritual. Some Christians who have refused have been flogged until they yield. This is akin to persecution, which should be stopped,” said Mr Wanjuu.

He said a police convoy was stoned by residents during the arrest of people suspected to be behind the oathing.

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"We had to shoot in the air to arrest some of the culprits who are now in police custody. We want them to reveal the identities of the other administrators of the oath," said the OCPD.

Resident claimed the oath administrators pointed arrows at victims during the swearing ceremony to instil fear.

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