Witch, witch, you’re a witch!
In the darkness of the night the angry mob had come. They shouted their poisonous accusations, chanting into the night “Witch! Witch! Witch!”
The more she had tried to protest her innocence, the less they seemed to hear her.
Only one thing would appease the rage of the crowd… her death.
Now trapped within her own home by the murderous mob, a cold, hard fear seemed to grip her very soul. The black smoke began to fill the room and she watched as the orange flames licked the walls.
Her family was still asleep in their beds. She wouldn’t wake them to face this death.
Her final act would be to say a prayer that they would not feel pain as they burned in their beds.
She knew no help would be coming.
You might think by reading this that I was writing about something that would have happened sometime between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, a time many of us know as “The Burning Times”.
You would be wrong, may I suggest you think more recently, say 2012.
All around the world innocent people are being accused of witchcraft and murdered and attacked within their communities, even in countries who have laws against such brutal acts.
Africa is no different.
Every year in South Africa the South African Pagan Rights Alliance has a campaign called “30 Days of Advocacy Against witch-hunts” to help create an awareness of what is still happening in today’s time.
The campaign ended in April but I decided to write this now, almost a month later for a reason. Just because the awareness campaign for the year has completed does not mean that the witch-hunts for the year are over too. They will continue to happen every day.
We all need to be aware of it, not just for one month out of a year but every single day. As modern day practitioners of the craft we all need to make a stand and share what is happening with everyone inside, as well as outside of our community.
Below is a list of names of people attacked in witch-hunts over recent years (Thank you Damon Leff for the details).
These are just a few names of people who have been irrationally attacked. Please take your time to read through them and please share their stories with others.
We can all do something small in order for the awareness to make a big impact.
REMEMBER THEIR NAMES
Victims of witch-hunts in South Africa
April 12 2012
Tarazeta Mathebula (79), accused of witchcraft, and his sister-in-law (55) torched inside their home in Giyani, Limpopo, and burn to death.
March 22 2012
Gauteng – Residents of Evaton have accused the pastor of The Rivers of Living Water church of bewitching children and allege that some were “turning into snakes.” The area has been the scene of violence since Tuesday and residents have threatened to burn the church down.
February 07 2012
Limpopo – Police in Mecklenburg arrested a 55 year old man for setting alight the house of an unnamed 70 year old woman after he suspected that she had killed his son through witchcraft. The pensioner was attending a church service when her house was burned down. Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Simon Mpembe has strongly condemned the burning of the woman’s house and said pointing out someone as a witch was a serious offence.
February 02 2012
KwaZulu-Natal – Premier Zweli Mkhize condemned the killing of people suspected of practising witchcraft. “We call on our people never to use suspicion of witchcraft as an excuse to commit murder.”
KwaZulu-Natal – Masisi Mhlongo (50), Fanelesibonge Ntuli (6) and Amahle Nxumalo (5 years old), were burnt to death inside their home in Maphumulo, near Stanger, after Masis Mhlongo was accused of being a witch.
KwaZulu-Natal – Elsa Dubazane (62) was burnt to death in her home in Lindelani. Her husband Rafael Zikhulu, who managed to escape the burning shack, was “necklaced” a few metres away. The couple had been accused by residents of witchcraft. Eleven suspects have been arrested.
January 27 2012
Limpopo – The community of Roadhouse in Malamulele booed Civic Association chairman Thomas Bila after he refused to expel an unnamed Mozambican woman they accused of witchcraft from the area. “If the civic is not telling us that the witches are going, they must go,” a villager said. The witchcraft accusations follows claims that a woman took some soil from a graveyard on the day a woman who was her neighbour was buried. Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alson Mapindani confirmed the situation at Roadhouse and said police were monitoring it.
December 07 2011
Kwazulu-Natal – Grace Hadebe (57) was burnt to death in Gomora informal settlement in Edendale, allegedly for practising witchcraft. Her two grandchildren, aged four and six, escaped through a window.
September 07 2011
Eastern Cape – The Eastern Cape’s Social Development department report released this week has found that the elderly are often accused of witchcraft. Social Development spokesman Gcobani Maswana told the Daily Dispatch “We have five cases of elderly women who have been hacked to death in the past three months alone, because some community members believe they are witches.” “Our greatest concern is that the stigma [of witchcraft] also affects grandchildren, who are also accused of being used by their grandmothers,” said Maswana. He said in one of the Lusikisiki cases, a 72-year-old granny was attacked and killed along with her two grandchildren, both girls, aged 10 and 11. The research found that in many instances, women accused of witchcraft were “people suffering from dementia and other illnesses”.
August 12 2011
Eastern Cape – The murder of an unnamed 65 year old woman, her son (24) and daughter (20), accused of witchcraft, was condemned by the chairperson of the women’s caucus of the Eastern Cape legislature, Koliswa Fihlani. Fihlani said she believed the murder of the Mayihlome family was “symptomatic of cultural stereotypes against poor and vulnerable women”. Two children aged between 2 and 4 survived the attack.
July 26 2011
Eastern Cape – A 72 year old woman accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in her home near Mthatha. The woman was asleep with her granddaughter at home in Ncihane village. The granddaughter was not injured. The suspect aged 52 was charged with murder in the Elliotdale Magistrate’s Court.
July 05 2011
Eastern Cape – Two people were killed and four others were injured when a mob swooped on two homes in Slovo Park where they believed witchcraft was being practised. A 67-year-old woman sustained severe burns and died when the group set her flat alight in the first incident. Her grandson (16) was stabbed but survived the attack. In a second incident, the elderly victim’s 35 year old son was hacked to death. Another son and daughter, aged 25 and 30, were in hospital. One had sustained stab wounds and the other burns. Five grandchildren escaped unhurt.
March 28 2011
Kwazulu-Natal – Two 25 year old men appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court accused of murdering their unnamed 54 year old neighbour because they thought she was a witch. Her daughter witnessed the killing and alerted the police.
March 23 2011
Limpopo – Police warn that “recently empowered rural people are increasingly being accused of witchcraft by jealous neighbours, sometimes with grave consequences”.
March 22 2011
Limpopo – Cynthia Lemaho (26) and her grandmother Mupala Motopela (81) were stoned and then set alight by a mob in Maake village outside Tzaneen after being accused of witchcraft. Lemaho’s two-year-old toddler and 12-year-old child managed to escape unharmed.
March 14 2011
Limpopo – The Tzaneen municipality is trying to locate two families who fled from their temporary shelter after being accused of practising witchcraft.
March 03 2011
Limpopo – 13 people, aged between 19 and 50 years, were arrested on charges of public violence after a group of angry villagers set alight seven houses belonging to people accused of practising witchcraft. This followed allegations that a 13-year-old girl was caught naked casting a spell over a neighbour’s house just after midnight. The girl was allegedly arrested and forced to appear before the village’s kangaroo court where she was grilled by the villagers. The girl allegedly implicated some elderly people in the village, who she claimed had sent her to cast an evil spell at the house. She allegedly revealed the names of those with whom she had allegedly practised witchcraft at night. A woman, whose name cannot be released and whose house was also set alight, pleaded with the police outside the court for protection. The woman said her life and the lives of members of her family could be in danger if the suspects were granted bail. She and her family, including those of the other victims of the attacks, have been accommodated in an empty building belonging to the Maruleng municipality, while others were given tents as temporary shelter. “We are asking for the police to safeguard our tents 24/7 until investigations are completed and the court makes a decision,” she said. The 13 arson suspects were granted R500 bail each and their case would be heard again on March 30.
February 01 2011
Mpumalanga – An unnamed woman (aged 62) was dragged from her home and beaten but escaped being burned to death when her home was set alight by a mob. Twelve people were arrested.
December 27 2010
Limpopo – Matome Albert Shai (64) was accused of practising witchcraft and stoned to death.
KwaZulu-Natal – Coshele Mabhida (45), Angelina Mabhida (58), Sindi Mabhida (25), Njabulo Mabhida (9), Siphesihle Mabhida (7), Olwami Mabhida (6), and Andiswa Mabhida (9 months old), and relative Nelisiwe Khumalo (16), were burnt to death. They were accused of witchcraft.
Kwazulu-Natal – Tholakele Shoba (54), a trainee traditional healer and her husband Shezi Shoba (60), were killed in Snathing near Edendale after they were accused by another traditional healer of having abducted a 7 year old boy to use for witchcraft.
October 29 2010
Kwazulu-Natal – The murder of four people in Mariannhill, Durban, has brought to 12 the number of people killed in KwaZulu-Natal in the past three days, and prompted national police commissioner Bheki Cele to visit the province. At Hlabisa, in northern KZN, a 52 year old woman Thoko Sibiya and her granddaughter were killed. A long running dispute over suspected witchcraft is thought to be the motive.
Eastern Cape – A 20 year old man murdered his unnamed parents, aged 75 and 80, and wounded two others, a 38 year old sister and a 60 year old woman, identified as the family’s neighbor with a spear in Mooiplaas over accusations of witchcraft. Names of the victims were not released by the media.
Eastern Cape – An unidentified 54 year old woman and her 3 year old granddaughter were wounded by gunmen seeking revenge for a killing they believe was caused by witchcraft. They shot the woman twice, in the shoulder and leg and the teenager once in the leg.
August 22 2010
Eastern Cape – Masilengenge Bambusiba (85), her grandsons Lwazi (17), Lwando (10), and Vela Nogemane (9), and granddaughter Ezile Nogemane (aged 5), were found dead at their home in Sigubudu village in Ngqeleni. Ten men attacked the family believing the woman was going to bewitch youths in the village.
August 04 2010
Mpumalanga – Philip Mnisi, Phumula Secondary School principal was accused of witchcraft by a mob, including pupils, after criticising his community for torching two houses during a witch-hunt. “He condemned us for burning the houses, and now children at the school are complaining that they see animals,” said Themba Maseko, on behalf of the protesters. He said the animals were the principal’s familiars and were used for black magic.
June 02 2010
Kwazulu-Natal – A 31 year old trainee sangoma, Mthunzi Ngcobo, shot his stepmother Vonto Ngcobo, whom he accused of practising witchcraft. Some villagers are now allegedly demanding that women suspected of witchcraft be eliminated. Mthunzi Ngcobo later shot himself in front of his brother. It is alleged that he claimed to have visions of his stepmother (Vonto) colluding with women who practised witchcraft.
May 30 2010
Eastern Cape – An unnamed 70 year old Eastern Cape woman was shot and killed. Police suspect the victim was accused of witchcraft.
March 03 2010
Limpopo – The Mafogo family of nine in Sekororo, outside Tzaneen, is now homeless after angry community members burnt down their house after accusing them of practicing witchcraft. Malesela Letsoalo of Makgaung village in the same area says the community went on the rampage after a man from the Mafogo family was allegedly found naked in a neighbour’s house just after midnight. The Mafogo family has rejected the allegations. “There are no witches in my family. We don’t know the first thing about witchcraft or using a broom or bread to fly. These are the deeds of jealousy because of our success,” said a relative, who asked to remain anonymous.
March 02 2010
Western Cape – Yalezwa Phulwana (22), and her 2 year old daughter Liyema died in hospital from burns after their home was set alight. Yalezwa’s mother, Nonjengezinye Matwa, was also severely burned and had to be hospitalised. She was accused of being a witch by a traditional healer.
March 01 2010
Limpopo – An elderly Limpopo woman (not named) accused of witchcraft had her house burnt down in Magaung village at Sekororo, Maake.
Kwazulu-Natal – Mbongeni Zungu (68) died after community members attacked him and burnt down his shack in Umlazi E section. They accused him of practising witchcraft.
February 04 2010
Eastern Cape – Three men, aged between 21 and 28, were arrested for beating a 60 year old woman to death they accused of practising witchcraft. Her husband escaped. The same suspects later went back to the same homestead and set alight two rondavels. The 11 occupants survived with minor injuries. In a separate incident, three men accused of stabbing to death 65 year old Nokitani Tshemesi and her three granddaughters, appeared in the Elliotdale Magistrate’s Court. They had suspected the woman of practising witchcraft.
February 03 2010
Eastern Cape – Nokitani Tshemesi (65) and her three grandchildren, Phumeza Ntakani (13), Nonkoliseko Malolo and Akhona Malolo (both aged 10), were found stabbed to death in their home in Kwaaiman, Eastern Cape. They were accused of witchcraft.
January 15 2010
Kwazulu-Natal – Eric Mthembu (22) told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that he killed a woman who claimed she used witchcraft to kill his mother, in order to make his mother a tokoloshe. The man was jailed for 18 years by Judge Anton van Zyl who said that Mthembu seemed to have a genuine, but misplaced, belief that the professed witch, Catherine Gina, had killed people by using supernatural powers.
January 13 2010
Kwazulu-Natal – Badabukile Ndlovu (81) was stabbed 50 times and her throat slit by her neighbour who accused her of witchcraft in KwaKwiliza near Mtubatuba.
January 04 2010
Eastern Cape – Mamakazi Mkhwanazi and her granddaughter Thobile Mbatha were burnt beyond recognition in Gunjaneni after being accused of practising witchcraft.
First published 15 May 2012 – http://ggclothing.blogspot.com/