Growing desires for land along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline are allegedly causing a rise in ‘witch lynching’ by residents to intimidate their elderly relatives who own the title deeds of desirable areas.
Sadaka Muruu, 100, who owns 12 acres of sought-after land in coastal Kilifi county, claimed she was told by her grandchildren that they would burn her alive after investors asked about purchasing it.
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The frightened grandmother was allegedly dragged naked from her home in January by relatives who had turned up without notice, and told neighbours they had caught her doing witchcraft.
But she was saved at the last minute by local councilor Teddy Mwambire, who drove her away to a rescue centre for elderly men and women accused of witchcraft£
Others have suffered a much-worse fate, with more than 50 people aged over 60 lynched this year over witchcraft accusations. Seven were killed in Cllr Mwambire’s district in Kilifi alone this summer.
Cllr Mwambire led an independent probe into witchcraft and found relatives can arrange a killing for the equivalent of only £30.
Relatives are the top suspects in almost all of the killings. But police are struggling to bring cases to court because they cannot get anybody to give evidence.
Most victims who escape death and end up at guarded rescue centres are too scared to ever return home as they risk death if their angry relatives see them again.
Three years ago uproar was caused after a video emerged on the internet showing five people burned in the village of Nyamataro, Kisii, in the west of Kenya, over witchcraft allegations.
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