Six arrested for torching alleged witch’s cuca shop

13 January 2022 | Local News

KENYA KAMBOWE



KAHENGE/KASIVI

Six people, including a teacher from Kasivi village in the Kavango West Region, yesterday appeared before the Kahenge Periodic Court after they burnt down a cuca shop belonging to a pensioner whom they accused of bewitching her own granddaughter, who died on New Year’s Eve.

The suspects, Sindimba Teresia, Mpepo Andreas Matamu, Kamina Frans Kasera, Siremo Joseph Siyengo, Siyepo Markus and Musongo Petrus, are charged with one count of witchcraft suppression and another count of arson and appeared before magistrate Barry Mufana, who granted them bail of N$3 000 each.

Two other suspects, Joseph Mukuve and Sikongo Daniel Hamutenya, who are charged with malicious damage to state property and malicious damage to property respectively, also appeared in court and were granted bail of N$1 000 each.

According to a police report, the complainant in the matter is Sindimba Laurencia Nepembe (61), who the group accused of being a witch and being responsible for the death of her 16-year-old granddaughter, who died on 31 December 2021 in the Rundu State Hospital.

When Namibian Sun visited Nepembe at her homestead, she denied having anything to do with witchcraft.

Nepembe said the allegations emerged on 20 December 2021 when the father of her late granddaughter went to consult a self-proclaimed prophet in Rundu, whom she identified as ‘Pastor Mike’.

She said on the day, he came to her homestead with Pastor Mike, who stayed at her house from 19:00 until 01:00 the next morning.

Pastor Mike apparently told the father of the child, who was in hospital at the time, that she was being bewitched by her grandmother.

Eleven days later, the girl died in Rundu. According to the family, she had been sick since October. She was laid to rest last Saturday.

Blamed for granddaughter’s death

The day after the funeral, the girl’s father and Pastor Mike allegedly visited Nepembe’s homestead again, and this time round, they were accompanied by 14 senior members from Pastor Mike’s church and over 100 community members.

“It was not a normal visit. At one point, I thought they came to kill me,” Nepembe narrated.

“They were hurling insults and calling me a witch and blamed me for my granddaughter’s death. I told them that I have never practiced witchcraft before and still they did not believe me,” she said.

“A commotion started and the police were called to calm the situation but it became worse.”

She said while two police officers were at their homestead, one of the arrested suspects assaulted her daughter.

Minutes later, several community members vandalised her cuca shop, located about 50 m from her home.

“They burnt [down] my cuca shop and everything that was in it got destroyed,” she said.

Nepembe said after they torched her shop, the police officer called for backup, which arrived soon thereafter.

Living in fear

During the incident, a vehicle belonging to Nepembe’s daughter was damaged as three of her tyres were slashed, while the police van was also damaged by the angry mob.

The pensioner said since the incident, she has not left her homestead in fear of being victimised and that someone in the community will harm her.

“I am afraid to leave my house because I believe my life is still in danger,” she said.

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