SYDNEY: Papua New Guinea police have rescued two women accused of sorcery who were about to be set alight, a report said Wednesday, days after a young mother accused of witchcraft was burned alive by a mob.
Sorcery cases have been a priority for authorities after the horrific
case of a 20-year-old woman who last week was stripped naked, doused
with petrol and set alight before a crowd, Highlands divisional police
commander Teddy Tei told The National newspaper.
The woman, who was accused of causing the death of a six-year-old boy
using sorcery, died after being tortured with a branding iron, tied up
and set alight on a pile of rubbish in Mount Hagen in the Western
The National said in the latest incident on Monday, also in Mount
Hagen, two elderly women were tied to poles and people were preparing to
set them alight over the death of an eight-year-old girl.
The girl’s relatives believed the women caused the death of the child
using sorcery but Tei said she had been “gang-raped and killed by two
known suspects” and these suspects were part of the mob attacking the
With them was a “glassman” – a man who claimed to have supernatural
powers and who had identified the luckless women as sorcerers and
claimed they were responsible for the child’s death.
Tei said police, who were tipped off by a witness to the incident
near Kagamuga Airport, rescued the women and arrested 20 suspects.
He appealed to the public not to take the law into their own hands in
the Pacific nation where there is a widespread belief in sorcery and
where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for
misfortune and death.
“What evidence do they have to produce to court for sorcery-related killing and torturing?” Tei said.
“It’s just a belief.” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has described as
“barbaric” killings associated with sorcery and has instructed police to
bring culprits to justice.
“Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery; violence against
women because of this belief that sorcery kills – these are becoming all
too common in certain parts of the country,” he said last week.
The government is encouraging families who are unsure about the cause
of a loved one’s death to take the body to a doctor to carry out a
post-mortem. Dawn World