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Return of Kilifi witch killings worries authorities

Kilifi County Commissioner Josphat Biwott has announced tough measures aimed at ending the killing of elderly people on suspicion of witchcraft practice and professional squatters in the county.


Mr. Biwott said members of families in which elders were killed on allegations of practicing necromancy would be rounded up and charged in court since it had been established that such deaths were being planned by close relatives.


Speaking during celebrations to mark the 60th Madaraka Day at Lugwe Primary School in Rabai Sub County, Mr. Biwott said he would commence a series of public rallies with a view to ending the vice that has given the county a bad name.


He said the elders were killed on the guise of witchcraft practice, but the real reason is that the planners want to inherit land, a vice he said would not be tolerated any more.


“We shall use all power at our disposal to ensure that our elders are secure. We shall hold all family members responsible for the deaths of their elderly persons,” Mr Biwott said following reports of a resurgence of the murders. 


On professional squatters, Mr Biwott said the government was developing a system in which those who benefit from settlement schemes do not qualify to be settled in other schemes, noting that many people sell their land immediately they get ownership documents and move to squat in other land.


He said the government would make it impossible for those who received title deeds in settlement schemes but sold their land to get land in other settlement schemes to continue with the practice.


 “If you received a title deed and you are selling your land expecting to get another, you will never get any,” he warned.


He noted that some people who benefitted in a settlement scheme where a lot goes at about Sh2 million sold theirs at between Sh200,000 and Sh300,000.

On the Shakahola debacle where 243 persons have been confirmed dead after starving themselves to death following cultic teachings, Mr Biwott said the government was using modern technology to rescue victims.


“The government is using drones, and through this technology, we have so far rescued 90 people,” he said adding that about 200 police officers have also been deployed in the Shakahola forest to search and rescue any survivors.


The administrator said 70 per cent of the about 400 churches in the county were standalone churches with no branches at all, and urged Kilifi residents to be keen on the teachings being given in those churches.

 He said he would soon call a meeting with all religious leaders to ensure that a tragedy like that caused by controversial preacher Paul Makenzie does not recur in the county.


Similar sentiments were made by Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro, who announced that he would soon call a meeting with elders from all kayas in the county to chart a way forward on how the elders can be secured.


“In the past few weeks, many elders have been killed on suspicion that they are witches. I urge all people to protect our elders so they can teach us the rich history of our country,” he said.

The governor urged area residents to cooperate with the government in the ongoing operation aimed at rescuing the victims of the Shakahola tragedy but not entering the security operation area, adding that plans were underway to make the 800-acre piece of land a memorial site.

On teenage pregnancies, the governor said his administration had started a programme dubbed linda dada to ensure that young men see girls as their sisters and protect them from sex predators. 


Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu Mwanyanje called on the government to start using helicopters to comb the Shakahola areas and beyond in order to rescue more victims.

By Emmanuel Masha

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