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Grey-haired elders in hiding as locals hunt them down over witchcraft

 Over 400 have been lynched in Kilifi [Photo: Courtesy]

Grey-haired elders in Kwale and Kilifi counties continue to live in fear, following widespread killings by locals who associate them with witchcraft.

According to Kenya News Agencies, the situation is so grave that approximately 400 innocent elders, mainly men and elderly widows, have been lynched in Kilifi alone over the past five years.

All the victims were accused without any proof, of being sorcerers. In the latest incident that took place last Wednesday, an elderly man was hacked to death in a brutal early morning attack by unidentified assailants in Gandini location, Kwale County.

Mr Begari Mongolo, 62, was attacked while asleep in the 5am incident in a county with escalating violence that has left scores of elderly people either killed or maimed on allegations of being witches.

Kinango Sub-county police Chief Mr Fredrick Lai confirmed the killing saying police are following crucial leads that may assist in arresting those behind the heinous act.

“We have dispatched police officers to the area to hunt down the perpetrators of the atrocious crime,” said Mr Lai.

The local Chief Ms. Umazi Mwangolo said the deceased, who sustained deep panga cuts was a respected man in the community, who never provoked anyone.

“We are greatly upset by his brutal killing as he was a sociable person,” Ms. Mwangolo said, adding that the motive of the murder was still unclear.

The administrator further said the deceased was at a relative’s ceremony when the incident happened.

Ms Mwangolo condemned the incident and warned the residents against engaging in such callous acts.

Police moved the body to Kinango Hospital mortuary for post mortem examination.

The violence meted on grey-haired men and women has been condemned by, among others, the local Coastal Kaya Council of Elders.

The council says the elderly have become vulnerable and a target of irrational “witch-hunts” and deserve protection and support.

The council has been working closely with the Coast Inter-faith Organization, which is under the Catholic leadership in Mombasa to create public awareness on the need to respect and protect the elderly people.

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