16.08.2005 General News

Witches & wizards appeal for Government intervention

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Gnani (N/R), Aug. 16, GNA - Alleged witches and wizards at the Gnani Camp in the Yendi District of the Northern Region have appealed to government to intervene to get them out of what they described as "injustice and total disregard for humanity" and other maltreatments on them.

According to them, declaring them as witches and wizards alone was not their major worry, but the way they were subjected to series of ritual agony and other kinds of unfounded allegations meted out to them. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview on their plight on Monday, the leader of the witches at the camp, Madam Kafam Bondaa said most of them had lived there between 20 and 30 years. She said although most of them were later found out to be innocent of the accusations, it was difficult for them to rejoin their families because of the perceived humiliations they were likely to receive at home.

Madam Bondaa said a lot of the witches and wizards who were also exorcised by the shrine priests of the witchcraft also preferred to stay back at the camp than to go home for fear of humiliations and other inhuman treatment.

She said some of the relatives really cared and, therefore, visited frequently to see them, but others she said did not set foot there until the accused were dead.

"Although some of us here were falsely accused of being witches and wizards, how can we go back to face the same people who had alienated us?" She asked.

Madam Bondaa said accused persons, who were really witches and wizards, could no longer practice it on their arrival at the shrine since the forces there were more powerful than the individual witches and wizards.

She said about 60 of the exorcised witches had so far been converted into Christianity and have joined the local Catholic Church and hoped more others would be converted to live morally upright and normal lives in society.

"I wonder why only elderly women are often accused and not young ladies. I believe there is always an agenda to humiliate and embarrass people in society."

The Leader appealed to the Government to enforce appropriate human right laws that would stop that practice and bring back the dignity of the people involved.

"They do not take care of us here, but when we die, they come to take us for burial and funerals, which is very surprising," she said. Mr Tindow Sei, Welfare Officer of the shrine, said they were upholding the practice to discourage other people from indulging in witchcraft.

He said the shrine, which started 30 years ago had been successful in exorcising people from witchcraft to live normal lives. About 1,000 witches and wizards had been at the Gnani Camp. Persons in the area accused of witchcraft are often sent to the camp for exorcising.

The practice, which is among mostly Dagombas and Konkombas is to rid society of witches and wizards.

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