Police arrest three for killing man,90, for allegedly being a witch

The three suspects are suspected to belong to a group known as Chironda wa Mabulu which has murdered over a dozen old men and women suspected of practicing witchcraft in the area. [Courtesy]
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of the 90 year old man they suspected to be practicing witchcraft in Taita-Taveta County.

The deceased was lynched last month and his body doused with petrol at Mlondo trading centre in Taita Sub County where a 57 year old woman was this month subjected to mob justice on the same claims.

Area OCPD Onesmus Kombo confirmed and said they were holding three suspects in connection with the murder of the old man.

The arrest comes as cases of murdering of old men on claims of witchcraft and sorcery continue to rise in the region.

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Mr Kombo said police had not completed investigations into the murder incident as they were still looking for more runway suspects.

“We will take the suspects to court and ask it to give us more time to complete investigations. The suspects are assisting us with investigations,” the police officer told The Standard on Saturday.

Villagers claimed that the deceased was found dancing naked in the wee hours and going round the house of one of the arrested suspects who alerted villagers.

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According to the villagers, the deceased whom they linked him with witchcraft and wizardry was talking incarnations.

“The deceased was going round the house dancing naked at 4 am. Angry villagers were alerted who descended on him and lynched him before dousing his body with petrol,” said one of the villagers.

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Kombo warned members of the public against taking the law into their hands.

“We are asking the public against taking the law into their hands. They (public) should hand over suspected criminals to the law enforcement officers for action instead of attacking or killing them,” cautioned the police officer.

The killings incident comes at a time when cases of the elderly being killed on suspicion of practicing witchcraft continue to rise in the region.

In the past three months, two elderly men aged about 70-years had been hacked to death on claims that they practice witchcraft and wizard in Nyangala division, Voi Sub County. 

The two were suspected to have been killed by a vicious gang of killers for hire that police sources claims is operating in Kasigau location.

Residents said the gang locally known as Chironda wa Mabulu had been behind the bizarre murders of over a dozen old men and women suspected of practicing witchcraft.

Chironda wa Mabulu is a Giriama word that is loosely translated as ‘A wound with Maggots’ which is a said to be a group that specializes in extermination of witches.

According to the statistics from Interior and Coordination officials and human right groups, more than 20 people had so far been killed by the terror gang since 2014. The dreadful group had forced old men to flee from the area for fear of being eliminated.

The villagers said the deceased bodies were horribly mutilated with deep cuts on the head, abdomen and legs.

Residents claimed the gang had been targeting the old suspected to be practicing witchcraft and wizardry. They noted that the gang strike at night, carryout its heinous act and flee. There had been no arrest in such incidences, said the residents.

They disclosed that gang was very elusive and seemed to be well informed on the whereabouts of their targets.

“The gang slashes the head and the abdomen so that even if the person happens to be rushed to hospital, the chances of survival are very minimal,” said one of the villagers.

“The most striking features about the multiple deaths is the fact that all the victims are past the age of sixty which has given credence to the theory that the aged in the community are at risk of being exterminated by this killer gang,” said the villagers.

In a past interview, Buguta location Chief Johane Mwazaule confirmed that scores of aged people in the area had been murdered by unknown assailants and stated that allegations of witchcraft were strongly suspected to be behind the murders.

He said that investigations into the deaths had revealed scant details about the killers as they left little evidence on who their true identities.

“We have had baffling deaths in the past years where old men are found murdered with deep cuts on their bodies. There killers strike suddenly and vanish leaving trail of destruction and grief on their wake,” said Mr Mwazaule.

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