Kisii Governor Ongwae sets up witchcraft taskforce

Kisii witchcraft taskforce Governor James Ongwae

Kisii Governor James Ongwae (in checked suit) poses for a picture with members of the witchcraft taskforce on October 26, 2021.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

Kisii Governor James Ongwae has set up a taskforce to help unravel the issues surrounding witchcraft murders in the county. 

The taskforce, through the County Department of Culture, has express terms of reference to find out and determine the extent of deep-seated superstitions that have seen the elderly murdered on suspicion of witchcraft.

The most recent case is the brutal killing of four women in Marani Sub-County, Kisii last week on suspicion that they practised witchcraft.

The taskforce comprises county staff and key stakeholders from members of the public and human rights organisations. It will carry out investigations and report back to the governor's office in three weeks’ time for further action.

Speaking on the murder of the four women - Sindege Mayaka (83), Jemima Mironga (60), Sigara Onkware (62) and Agnes Ototo (57) - Mr Ongwae termed their killing as senseless. 

"I condemn the incident in the strongest terms possible. Indeed, there is no reason whatsoever to lose precious lives due to mob justice on flimsy grounds such as suspicion of witchcraft," said Mr Ongwae. 

"We have legal mechanisms to deal with suspects of any nature. The women who died in a shameful manner at the hands of fellow villagers," he noted. 

He said the county government will foot post-mortem and burial expenses for the four women. 

"It is unfortunate that in the 21st century, we are still steeped in mythical beliefs which have since outlived their relevance...We grew up hearing fairy tales of witchcraft but not once in our lifetimes have we actually come across witches," the county boss said. 

He noted that if Kisii residents do not rise up to protect their senior citizens, they risk losing them on such flimsy grounds. 

"As Gusii community we will end up picking the loathsome witchcraft stereotype in front of the world," he lamented. 

Meanwhile, police in Marani on Sunday arrested a student who said he was abducted by the four women, sparking their lynching. 

lynching suspects Kisii Law Courts

Four men suspected to have lynched four women over witchcraft claims appear at the Kisii Law Courts on October 19, 2021. Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Mutai has ordered that they be detained for 10 days pending investigations.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

He was picked as detectives hunt for more suspects who are on the run. 

At least six suspects linked to the lynching of the four women are in police custody. 

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