Barely a month after four elderly women were lynched in Marani, Kisii County for allegedly practicing witchcraft, a house belonging to one of the victims was Monday set ablaze in unclear circumstances.
Ms Jemima Mironga’s mud-walled house was completely razed on Monday, meaning her three children had nowhere to spend the night.
According to villagers, the fire is said to have started a few minutes after 11am. When the Nation team arrived at their Nyagonyi home in the afternoon, the rubble was still smouldering.
Ms Mironga, 60, was among the four women who were lynched in October. Others were Mrs Agnes Ototo, 57, Sigara Onkware, 62 and Sindege Mayaka, 85.
It was claimed that the four had bewitched a Form Two student, making him dumb.
When the student reportedly regained his speech after a ritual was conducted, he claimed that the victims were behind his troubles. His claims prompted locals to storm their homes before burning them alive.
Ms Janet Moraa, 25, the third-born child of the late Ms Mironga, was leaning against her mother’s fresh grave when the Nationvisited their home on Monday afternoon.
She had just left home when reports reached her that their house was on fire. Her siblings, all grownup men, had earlier reported to a construction site for menial work.
The family is now calling on those behind their anguish to leave them alone as they feel they have gone through a lot.
“For sure we do not know what we have done to deserve all this. No one is telling us what crime or sin we committed,” Ms Moraa said amid tears.
“Why can’t someone come out and tell us how we wronged them instead of making us suffer? We are more than willing to ask for forgiveness from whoever feels wronged by our family,” she added.
Ms Hellen Kiriama, a human rights activist from Tabaka, who was part of the team that helped the family resettle, termed the incident as unfortunate. She called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to intervene and restore the family’s peace.
“This is totally unacceptable. Even as some suspects are being held in court, we feel others are out here and they are the ones intimidating Jemima’s children,” Ms Kiriama said.
Marani Deputy County Commissioner Patrick Muriira said investigations have been launched into the latest incident.
“Officers visited the home and I can assure you that we will get to the bottom of the matter. We are yet to establish the cause of the fire. Should it turn out to be an arson attack, then the law will take its course,” the DCC said.
Following the Marani killings, Governor James Ongwae formed a taskforce to look into the extent of the witchcraft superstitions among locals.
Among the stakeholders who have already submitted their memorandum to the taskforce is the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).
In its findings, KNCHR said the belief in the practice was endemic and lynching was being used as an antidote.
The commission urged the state to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and protected.