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Gendarmes Save Woman Buried Alive By Her Children Over Allegations Of Witchcraft

An old woman was buried alive in the Central African Republic village of Barka—Panzi, about 21km from Berberati in the prefecture of Mambéré Kadéi.

The woman was luckily to have been saved by gendarmes who were accompanying trucks of a timber company passing through the village at the time of the incident.

According to eye-witness accounts, the 60-year-old woman, whose name was not immediately made available by family members, had over the years been suspected by her children and family members of having been responsible for several deaths in the family, including those of her own children.

On Wednesday, one of her children died and immediately after the burial by family members, a family meeting was convened during which it was decided to end the life of the woman. After being beaten and wounded with machetes, the children decided to bury their mother alive, which act was immediately executed.

Fortunately however, gendarmes on a mission hired by a timber company la société forestière VICA,baséd about four kilomètres from Barka—Panzi on the Nola highway, were passing through the village and noticed the crowds gathered at the scene of the burial. Prompt action led to the unearthing of the woman who was surprisingly found to still be alive.

The woman was eventually rushed to the hospital where she is currently receiving treatment and latest reports say her life is not in danger.

Belief in witchcraft is still very strong in the Central African Republic and mob justice is always meted out on individuals suspected, rightly or wrongly, to be witches or wizards without resort to the judicial process.

Attempts over the years to curb this alternative justice seem not be bearing fruits, especially as the war-torn country lacks judicial structures in most parts of the country controlled by armed groups supported by Christian and Muslim communities.


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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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