Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu bans Tanzanian witch craft

WUNDANYI, KENYA: Foreign witch doctors have been banned from operating in Taita Taveta County, authorities have said.

Governor John Mruttu has also warned that locals who will be found harbouring them will be arrested and prosecuted.

Scores of people have been killed in the Coast region on suspicion that they were practicing witchcraft with Taita Taveta and Kilifi County the most affected.

"We met and agreed with the county Commissioner Mr Oningoi Ole Sosio that traditional witchdoctors will no longer be allowed to operate in the region. Anyone found harbouring or facilitating their movement will be arrested and prosecuted," Mruttu warned.

Mruttu said this while addressing primary and secondary school heads and school management committees in Voi town during an education conference Monday.

The one day stakeholders' conference was sponsored by the county government to discuss poor education standards and find lasting solutions to the problems.

It was aimed at streamlining standards of educating, identification of special needs placement and inclusion and transforming the county by developing a reading culture.

The meeting found out that widespread belief in witchcraft and practices among residents, sale and consumption of illicit brews and drugs, persistent famine and water shortages, persistent human wildlife conflicts as some of the major development obstacles in the region.

He noted witch doctors from the neighbouring country had secretly been invading the region and causing fear among the local community.

"Some have been coming on invitation by the local residents. We want teachers, parents and churches to take the lead in the fight against such outmoded cultural beliefs," said Mr Mruttu.

A report by Ipsos research carried out last year reveals that Taita Taveta County was leading in terms of witch craft in the Coast region with 11 percent of the residents believing in the tradition.

According to the research, 'Kenya Coast Survey Development, Marginalization, Security and Participating', Kilifi County is 8 percent while Kwale is third while 7 percent and Mombasa with 1 percent.

It also emerged from the meeting that some local leaders who should be fighting the vice, have been accused of seeking protection from sorcerers.

In one of the recent incidents, a family was rendered homeless at Sangenyi village in Wundanyi division after irritated villagers torched their houses accusing them of practicing witchcraft.


In the same month a middle aged man was also killed at Werugha area in an incident linked to witchcraft.

James Howard Smith in his book titled "Bewitching Development" present an account of how people in Taita hills have appropriated and made sense of development thought and practice, focusing on the complex ways that development connects with changing understandings of witchcraft.

Some religious leaders interviewed said that indeed the region is rife with bizarre stories revolving around the disgusting and incredulous exploits of witches, sorcerers and evil diviners.

Mruttu challenged provincial administration and religious leaders to embark on an intensive awareness campaigns to educate residents on the need to abandon outmoded cultural practices.