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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Two killed, 40 houses torched

13th May 2012

A group of unknown people has brutally killed two old people and burnt more than 40 houses on superstitious beliefs.

Miangalu villagers were mourning the death of their fellow villager in Sumbawanga district, Rukwa region. As the villagers convened to mourn the death of fellow villager Festo Chambanenge (45) who passed away after long illness, attackers invaded the place.

Rukwa Regional Police Commander Isuto Mantage confirmed the occurrence of the incident. The regional police boss said the incident caused panic among the mourners, compelling them to run randomly in different directions to save their lives. An unstated number of families were rendered homeless after marauders gutted down their homes.

Commander Mantange mentioned those killed by being assaulted with traditional weapons and burned to death as Erasto Chuo (60) and another, Mzee Lupopo (70) of Miangula village. The incident arose from the death of Chambanenge who after a long illness, having been treated in various hospitals and being assisted by traditional healers.

Eye witness reports say that after mourners gathered at the late Chambanenge’s home the group of villagers began attacking Chuo with spears, arrows and machetes before burning his body. Chuo’s charred body was stranded leaving dogs to devour it. Reports say that the next day the marauding villagers returned to conduct door-to door search, burning the houses of villagers they suspected to be witches and also attacked Mzee Lupopo, killing him. In their operation the angry mob cut up 20 cattle belonging to one Mwanazyungu after the family abandoned the cattle as they ran away. Worse, the police have not been able to arrest any suspects but RPC Mantage said police were continuing with investigations. He asked Rukwa residents to discard superstition beliefs, as well as the habit of taking the law in their hands.

The brutal killing of the two elders in Sumbawanga came three days after four old women were reportedly killed at Luezela village, Nzera ward in Geita district on suspicions of witchcraft.

The incident was sparked by the death of a five-year child identified as Diana Salu who was devoured by a hyena. The act of the hyena to devour the child made the villagers suspect that it was a witch-driven incident.

The child, Diana screamed for help as the hyena attacked her, but people who ran to rescue her only found her remains, with the beast out of the scene. However, when villagers attempted to hunt the beast to kill it, villagers said, the hyena disappeared mysteriously, creating an impression that it had entered one of the houses of those the irate mob now set out to attack. In another development the Police force in Ruvuma region is holding Zakaria Kapinga, a resident of Ionga village in Mbinga district in connection with setting on fire four thatched houses.

Speaking to The Guardian on Sunday yesterday, Ruvuma Acting Regional Police Commander Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) George Chiposi said the destruction that resulted from the three act of arson was valued at Sh 745,000. The houses were owned by Theobati Komba, Welnet Ndunguru and Sabasi Haule.

The regional police boss explained that the first victim, Komba with his family were caught by surprise at around midnight, awoke from sleep as one of his two houses was on fire.

As Komba and his family got out of the house they could see the suspect running but a few minutes later Ndunguru’s house was also set ablaze by the same suspect. Ndunguru rescued his children but most belongings were destroyed.

Police recounted that after Ndunguru’s houses were was set ablaze a few minutes later Haule’s house was also on fire. The villagers, according to police, carried out a manhunt before arresting Kapinga on the same night.

RPC Chiposi said police were still investigating the matter.

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