Elderly man killed by youths on witchcraft claims

Monday February 9 2009

By DANIEL NYASSY


An elderly man was killed in Magarini Monday 9 February, 2009, when villagers accused him of practising witchcraft only three days after a Daily Nation expose on the vice that threatens the old generation in Malindi district.

Mzee Karisa Baya Musanzu in his late 50s was stoned to death only minutes after the burial of his son whom he was accused of bewitching.

His late son, George Karisa Baya, 20, sat for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) in 2007 and had just received an admission letter to one of the local tartiary colleges.

"Relatives held a closed-door meeting to strategise on how to execute the murder immediately after the burial of the son," said Malindi police boss Peter Kattam.

Mr Kattam said three suspects had been arrested and put in police custody and announced a fully-fledged war on the youth and criminals out to exterminate the old generation which they accuse of perpetrating witchcraft in the area.

According to eye witnesses, the burial of Baya was well attended with about 3,000 villagers gathering at the Garithe village in Fundisa sublocation, now a notorious area for murders of witchcraft suspects.

"The old man sat under a tree moaning the loss of his son. Suddenly, a group of relatives emerged from the closed-door meeting and one young man shouted, 'he is there, finish him'," said the witness Mrs Chipande Garama.

Mzee Musanzu tried to flee from the mob but due to old age, he fell as he went round one of the grass-thatched houses in a bid to hide.

"The ferocious mob composed mainly of young men shouted war cries, caught up with the old man whose clothes had dropped and hurled stones on his head," said the witness.

Groaning and pleading for mercy, Mzee Musanzu struggled on the ground, losing his life under the hail of stones rained on him.

The mob then began celebrating, pouring themselves guards of palm wine (mnazi) as they sang happily.

Mzee Misanzu is the eighth victim in the area since last year.

"The killing was accomplished by members of the family at 3pm immediately after the burial. It is very sad," said the OCPD.

He said a gang of malicious youth was on the loose in the area targeting the "grey-haired generation" and vowed that they would be hunted down.

"We have launched investigations and launched an intensive campaign to arrest all parpetrators of the murders," he said.

According to area District Officer Mr Patrick ole Ntutu, the tradition and culture of witchcraft is so deeply-rooted among the Mijikenda community that it had become "a religion".

Since our expose on Saturday 7 February 2009, Kaya elders have come out to express outrage against the murders in the Coast and called on the Government to act before the grey-haired generation becomes extinct.