Man whose hands were chopped off in attack over witchcraft claim seeks justice

Katana Kenga, 56, who lost hands to a machete-wielding gang that attacked him over witchcraft claims, seeks justice at the Lango Baya police station in Malindi, Kilifi County. [Robert Menza, Standard]

An elderly man whose hands were chopped off by a gang that raided his house in Malindi, Kilifi County, accusing him of witchcraft is now seeking justice.

The gang accused 56-year-old Katana Kenga of bewitching his son, who was killed by a hippo. Gang members latter cut off his hands using a machete.

Kenga said his son was on a fishing expedition along River Sabaki when he was attacked by the animal. Later, some family members claimed the hippo had been‘sent by him (Kenga) through voodoo’.

After he was labelled a witch, Kenga said he became a marked man and his entire village of Langobaya turned against him.

On April 1, 2023, the gang stormed his house and attacked him, also inflicting serious injuries on his legs and private parts.

Kenga said the gang members maintained that he was behind the death of his son.

Kenga, who has sought refuge at Mekatilili Wa Menza Rescue Centre in Malindi County, recorded a statement at the Lango Baya Police Station in Malindi last Wednesday demanding that his attackers be arrested and punished.

Kenga was accompanied by officials from the Haki Yetu Organisation (HYO), a Catholic Church-run human rights outfit based in Mombasa County.

The father of five briefly visited his home and shed tears as he reunited with his family members before he was taken back to the rescue centre.

He has been in exile since the attack on April 1, 2023. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Kenga argued that the death of his firstborn son became an excuse for his execution adding that the real cause of the attack was a family land tussle.

He said some family members wanted to sell part of a 10-acre ancestral land against his wish and plotted to kill him so they could continue with the transaction.

“My father had two wives. Some of my young brothers want to sell part of the land even now that I am away at the rescue centre in Malindi,” he said.

Kenga claimed his wife abandoned him after staying in the hospital for two weeks, leaving him to fend for his two sons.

Mr Kenga’s uncle, Ibrahim Masha said Kenga had a long-running dispute with his young brothers over the ancestral land.

“It was surprising because hippos attack people so often on river Sabaki. Recently, a hippo attacked another person,” Masha noted.

HYO programmes officer Julius Wanyama, who accompanied Mr Kenga to the police station, said six people have recorded statements in connection with the attack while another suspect was on the run.

He said in Malindi, HYO was following up 21 cases of brutal attacks linked to witchcraft while three others were in court.

Mr Wanyama told the police to treat these cases seriously just like cases involving sexual and gender-based violence to guarantee victims justice.

“It’s high time cases of killings and attacks targeting the elderly suspected to be witches were treated more seriously and consistently in terms of follow-up, documentation, and coordination,” he said.

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