Church call for an end to witch murders

Evangelization and education are needed to halt the witchcraft related killings plaguing Tanzania, church leaders said last week. The lead item on the agenda of the six day meeting of Tanzania’s United Christian Council meeting in Bukoba that began on 6 March 2015 was crafting a united response to the murders of accused witches, the suppression of witch doctors, and the kidnapping and murder of albinos. A spokesman for the group, Dr. Eliza Buberwa, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s North Western Diocese told reporters government must work with churches to end the violence. Witch doctors alone could not be blamed for the killings, for if there were no demand for their services from cultists, then the murder of albinos would cease. At least 74 people with albinism have reportedly been murdered in the east African country since 2000. Isaac Nantanga, an interior ministry spokesman, told Agence France-Presse: “These so-called witches bear responsibility for the attacks against albinos.” A US survey in 2010 found that while most people in Tanzania are Christian or Muslim, 93% said they believed in witchcraft. Last month an albino infant was kidnapped and dismembered, his body parts sold to devotees who believed they provided protection against evil spirits, long life and wealth. In recent week’s the Tanzania press has reported the murder of several people accused of witchcraft. Five people were murdered in one village in the Serengeti district, Mara Region, on 5 March 2015 by fellow villagers on suspicion of engaging in activities that have caused rains not to fall in the area. 

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