Witch Hunt

DARESSALAAM, April 9 — An elderly man accused of witchcraft was beaten to death after he claimed to have caused a road accident in southern Tanzania in which 32 people died, police said.

The man, who was not named, had been collecting heads and other body parts of victims from the crash scene near Mbeya, regional police commander Laurian Sanya told Reuters.

Sanya said the 32 people, who included 14 women and two children, died in the crash on Saturday when their minibus overturned while trying to avoid a cow.

Claimed Accident Was Caused by Spell

He said the elderly man, known locally as a traditional healer, had been asked by villagers what he was doing.

"He said he had cast a spell the previous day for the accident to happen so that he could get materials to use for his treatments. He was killed on the spot by the villagers and we were too late to save him," Sanya said.

Witchcraft is rampant in the Mbeya area, where a trade in human skins has been going on for several years, local officials said.

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