The witch must die

2012-01-10 14:59

The story of elderly women convicted of witchcraft in Central African Republic was very disturbing. In that country it is illegal to 'practice' witchcraft. I wondered how a judge can be convinced that a person is a witch.

Do they perhaps require the suspect to demonstrate their 'black magic' powers?. Even more disturbing is that children can also be prosecuted for witchcraft.

Maybe I am used to living in a country that has guaranteed constitutional rights for all but this kind of practice has no place in a modern society although the constitution does give one the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion; the constitution also demands that we respect the rights of others.

So if one wants to be a witch, in this country they are free to be one. Of course it takes a witch to know another, how else can you tell if a person is a witch if you don't believe in witchcraft? Remember that most belief systems are based on faith with no tangible evidence so how can a judge be convinced that a person is a witch?

In Central African Republic it only takes witnesses to secure a conviction. So if you had someone you didn't like, you would simply find other people who feel the same to testify that your enemy practices witchcraft.

The target is almost always an elderly woman who lives alone or with a grandchild or two. They simply convict the woman with the child, with no evidence but a cooked up statement to convict an innocent child who might not even know what the word 'witchcraft' means.

Though this practice gravely undermines women and children's rights, the Central African Republic has a better system compared with other African countries such as South Africa where the 'witch' is brutally murdered.

Imagine a defenseless elderly woman being woken up with an Axe on her head being butchered in her home often by neighbors or family relatives.

This happens every year in rural Eastern Cape and some parts of the country.

In Central African Republic the convicted witch would be sent to jail where she will have a roof over her head but with other 'witches' and a guaranteed meal which is better because many in that poor country have no idea where their next meal will come from. Though the conviction takes away her freedom, one woman said that prison life is better because she does not really have go to bed on an empty stomach.

So a 'witch' in that country is better off in prison compared with being butchered in South Africa.

I remember when my grandfather passed away back in 1998, his eldest sister showed up around 3 in the morning to interrogate my grandmother 'the witch'. She asked my grandmother 'What did you give him'?

Grandmother still struggling to cope with the death of her husband was speechless, could not say a word for the next few days.

Then the family sons and daughters showed up, it was decided that my grandmother would dig my grandfather's grave and dig her own next to it where 'the witch' would be buried alive.

The eldest Msimango at that time was my grandfather's sister who accused my grandmother of killing every person who had died in the family.

This is very common in South Africa because most black people refuse to believe that a well educated person or successful individual can die accidentally, its always some elderly woman in the family or next door.

My grandfather was not an academic but was an Archbishop loved by the entire village. In fact everybody in the village called him Tata. This meant that he could not have a stroke and die, a witch must have killed him and that witch according to majority of the clan was my grandmother.

This made grieving extremely difficult for the man who raised me, constantly worried about an uncle haxing my beloved gogo to death.

So the Friday of the night vigil came, my grandfather's grave had not been dug. Normally village men would dig the grave on Wednesday/Thursday if the funeral is to be held on Saturday or Sunday.

Friday evening came, night vigil due to begin in two hours time; the police showed up. A woman who knew my grandmother heard about what was planned and alerted the police.

So all men who were in the yard began digging the grave in the middle of the night, I could not sleep so I went to the night vigil to see my gogo. She looked sick, had lost a lot of weight in just 2 weeks. She could barely walk, her sister had to help her walk to bathroom and later the grave.

So she did not dig the grave but I can imagine the trauma she went through after losing her husband now she was worried about her life.

Day of the funeral and grandpa's remains arrive. The family requests time with the remains, because I was young I could not see the dead body so the last time I saw my grandfather was when we were planting trees together.

Standing outside the room where the body was I hear a gun shot, my knees went all jelly thinking that they had killed my grandmother but they shot my grandfather's body on the forehead because they believed that it wasn't him in the coffin but impundulu (Demon). So if you burn, cut or shoot the mpundulu, a bird or snake will emerge from the coffin and the dead person will come to life.

This was very disturbing to me and grandma, we cannot tell this story without getting emotional about it.

This belief rips families apart and destroys communities. It is very sad to think that this still happens in this country. Many elderly women are attacked, harassed daily in this country all because someone believes in witchcraft. The only person that should ever be found guilty of witchcraft is the one who knows witches for they are the ones who believe in witchcraft.

If a witch knew that you know about what they get up to, wouldn't they use their black magic to get rid of you so that they can continue practicing their witchcraft?

Because you believe in witchcraft, please do not expect the rest of the world to believe in your nonsense as it is simply a product of your imagination. Respect others in the same way you want them to respect you. According to our constitution, you have a right to believe that witchcraft exists and I have the right to believe that what you believe is nonsense.

Maybe our ancestors believed in such but that does not mean we must believe in that rubbish, we can choose to love each other for all eternity or we can choose to hate each other for things we are taught to believe.

It would be extremely barbaric of us to even think about doing what is happening in the Central African Republic because one cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person is a witch.

We should be protecting the most vulnerable members of our society but instead we prosecute them for things they have no knowledge of.

What a shame!!!

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