Witchcraft verification is primitive and illegal, KNCHR says

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Secretary and CEO Benard Mogesa addresses the press in Kisii town on November 5, 2021. He condemned recent witchcraft suspects burning in Marani Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has said witchcraft verification, which involves a ‘spitting ritual’, practised in Gusiiland is primitive and illegal.

Addressing the media in Kisii town on Friday, the commission’s Secretary and Chief Executive Bernard Mogesa said women, particularly poor, old widows, have borne the brunt of the horrible practice of 'witch-burning' in Gusiiland.

“The State must ensure that relevant policies are formulated and that the Constitution is implemented to the letter and spirit, and in a manner that enhances the enjoyment of adequate security to each and every individual,” Dr Mogesa said.

He said no Kenyan should lose their life because of some ill-defined accusations like witchcraft; which are difficult to prove in a court of law.

“The Constitution in Article 40 provides that every person has the right either individually or jointly to acquire and own property of any description in any part of the country,” he said.

Further, Mogesa noted that Article 60 of the Constitution ensures equitable access to land and security.

“Nobody should therefore deny another person the right to ownership of property much worse through malicious allegations of witchcraft,” he said.

The commission recommended a need to educate members of the Gusii community that witchcraft is just a myth, often intensified by mischief.

“The community needs to be educated on human rights standards and norms in order to stop targeting the elderly women and the poor,” explained Mogesa.

Relatives will today be laying to rest three women who were lynched over witchcraft claims. Four elderly women were killed on October 17, 2021 in Mokona village, Marani in Kisii County.

The four are Sindege Mayaka, Jemima Nyang’ate Mironga, Sindege Nyakwara Masaku and Agnes Moraa Ototo, who were suspected of bewitching a Form Four student.

The commission is already compiling a report that will be released in the next one month. They will also be presenting their views to a 14-member task force that was formed by Kisii Governor James Ongwae a week ago.