Africa - Eastern Africa
Sorcery, Cannibalism Cast Spell Over Village
by Henry Ssali ("The Monitor," May 4, 2004)
The apparent end began on Sunday morning.
Ms Norah Namutebi complained to the LCI chairman of Kinvunikidde village of ill health after fellow residents James Kityo and Rogers Kitumba had threatened her with death if she did not pay them their 'consultation fee'.
Namutebi, who The Monitor could not find for an interview, reportedly had been consulting the two witchdoctors over two months and they had asked for Shs 500,000 in payment.
She told them that she did not have the money but her only valuable possession was a piece of land in the same village.
But the piece of land also belonged to her children, and therefore she could not give it away.
The witchdoctors told her that she either pays their money or her life was in danger.
Then she started having ailments and contacted the LCs saying the witchdoctors had threatened her. The LCs then swung into ation.
"Yesterday [Sunday] we called an LC meeting, which resolved to search their premises to see how they manage to make people sick," LC I Chairman Leonard Kasibante told The Monitor yesterday.
The council contacted Mityana RDC Margaret Kivumbi who gave them army men to go search the premises.
"Just as we had started, we saw a skull and became suspicious," Kasibante said.
By this time residents were gathering and were in for more shock when decomposing body parts were found heaped in a sack and hidden under one of about 30 small brick structures around the compound.
The residents ran amok and razed the house and the small structures each about a metre high, many of them containing human bones.
"I received a call that people were about to lynch the three suspects [including a woman] so I sent a police patrol car, which rescued them," the Officer in Charge of Mityana Police Station, Mr Tarquins Alawy, said.
The Monitor arrived at the gruesome scene yesterday morning.
Despite the heavy downpour, hundreds of residents awaited a major search of the entire premises.
Under a mango tree sat a young woman guarded by about five policemen.
"She is the one," residents shouted.
She is the third suspect.
Ms Harriet Namboga, 25, told The Monitor that she has eaten only two people!
Mr Kityo and Mr Kitumba are her brothers and she lives nearby.
She said the first time she ate human flesh she found when her brothers had already prepared the dish and they offered her some of it, to which she didn't object.
The second person she ate was her acquaintance called Betty Nakazzi.
"She used to come here" to see Kityo and Kitumba at their shrine.
"She died and we ate her," Namboga said.
However, she denied that they had killed the woman. She died of natural causes sometime earlier in the year.
"On their advice, I went to where we had buried her remains and I prayed to the ancestors so that her spirit does not haunt me," she added.
Asked by one of the cops why she ate human flesh with all the goats and chicken around, she remained silent.
She was calm, occasionally flashing a smile despite all insults from the villagers.
RDC Kivumbi arrived on the scene with army men and they shoved the crowd further away.
A while later, a police patrol car approached the compound and Kityo, donning black trousers and an orange shirt that looked more like a blouse, was dragged off to help the police in exhuming the bodies.
By this time a body of a woman buried about a metre below the ground had been discovered. The body looked freshly buried and was wrapped in a pink cloth.
"We got her from Ssekanyonyi [a nearby village], Kityo said.
"I eat people when I am possessed by a spirit [ekitambo]," he told The Monitor.
Bones, cowrie shells, calabashes, and several bark cloth balls were littered all over the place.
A while later another patrol car brought Kitumba and the brothers helped police locate any other bodies. They found none.
But together they exhumed the pink-clothed woman's body as horrified residents looked on.
Then the accusations began. Villagers said the brothers are linked to the disappearance of a 7-year-old child about eight months ago.
One of the residents claimed they had seen a car with the wailing child and one of the two men inside it.
"He is the one who went with the child," Kityo accused his brother, who claimed the car was loaded with beer.
Another resident, Mr Matia Wasswa, claimed the two men are responsible for the disappearance of his niece who used to live with him in 2001.
"She was my sister's child and she used to stay with me," he said.
People hurled all sorts of insults at the trio, asking police for permission to lynch them.
"They deserve to die," residents shouted.
A neighbour who requested anonymity alleged that the witchdoctors have a racket with the neighbouring Ssekanyonyi village and that several cars usually park at the duo's shrine.
"They must be working for some rich people," he said.
He claimed that when the issue of the lost 7-year-old came up last year, a rich man's wife on the village put Shs 500,000 on the head of anyone who talked about it.
"It's a mysterious village," one of them said.