Two women tortured for witchcraft in the national capital

BY MIRIAM ZARRIGA

Shocking. The young cop was at a loss for words.

During his first raid with his unit, the scene of disgust that unfolded hit him hard in his guts and reverberated through his body.

“This is shocking,” he muttered as he helped free the prisoners from their bonds and returned to his patrol vehicle. We cannot identify him to protect his identity and his comrades.

Cops deal with violence on a daily basis. How it affects them physically, mentally and psychologically, we don’t know.

But by his admission, it is something he will live with for the rest of his life.

Yesterday he was one of many police officers who rescued two women from Chuave, Chimbu Province, in the Port Moresby Outer Settlement of Moitaka Ridge at 9-Mile.

They were beaten to a pulp, abused with hot iron bars, drifting in and out of consciousness, begging for mercy.

An all-too-familiar scene in the country, where witchcraft-related violence against citizens is on the rise, despite laws passed in parliament to prosecute those who commit such vile acts.

The women were taken away by St John Ambulance after enduring 24 hours of horrific torture by clansmen, following the death of a child last week.

When the child’s father fell ill this week and was admitted to Port Moresby General Hospital, suspicions of witchcraft were fueled by the mere presence of the women, who live in the same house.

The duo were tortured and assaulted for allegedly killing the child by sorcery.

The accusers were their own family who tortured them before police were called by someone who became suspicious after hearing the cries of the old ladies.

Police Commissioner David Manning was briefed on the police rescue which ended the torture of women by their family members.

“I am fed up with the continued attacks on women, especially with regard to accusations of witchcraft,” he said.

“Why do we have to keep saving women who have a right to be safe from such heinous crimes?”

“It makes me sick that this time their own family tortured the women for the death of a child and the father of the child fell ill.”

According to neighbors a child had died last Thursday, Monday morning the father fell ill suddenly and due to the proximity of death and illness other family members became suspicious of the two women.

Police at the scene said: ‘When we arrived the two women were bound by ropes, both were bleeding profusely after being assaulted, the assaults and torture continued when the family learned that the father of the family was now 50/50 in the hospital.

“Someone called police operations and described the scene of the torture and assault and we are tasked to respond.”

The women were silent when approached by the Post-Courier in full view of their own family.

A woman who was at the scene commented and said the two are now homeless because their families won’t allow them back into the community.

The women were treated at the scene by the St. John Ambulance team and transported to hospital.

Mr Manning said: ‘While I know many believe in witchcraft, there must be evidence of these charges which must be proven in court or shown to the police when they investigate.

“In a century where there are new discoveries of medical conditions, any condition can be traced to someone who suddenly gets sick or dies suddenly, that’s where if the family is wronged, they can file a complaint to the police who can order an autopsy on the deceased.”

“If foul play is suspected the suspects can be identified and treated by the police, if it is a medical issue there is no need to be tortured or assaulted for a medical issue.”
said Commissioner Manning.

Women, children, old men and women and people with disabilities are still harassed by men, adult men who tend to lead the crusade of the prosecution and the court where they decide the form of torture, he added.

We have strict laws in place for such witchcraft-related torture and assault, he said.

“People who suspect witchcraft should report the matter to the police who will investigate and find out the truth about the person’s death.”