- Police arrested three suspects including two men and one woman to help in investigations of the conflict
- There is heavy deployment of both the police and the army at this Uganda-DRC border village in efforts to control the security situation in the area
- In the eviction, fourteen grass thatched houses, food crops and other household items were completely destroyed
- The accused family members were also seriously beaten by the evictees
By Atiku Robert
Maracha-For centuries, in the African tradition, there is a high belief and perceptions of witchcraft practice.
But it is hard to prove the evidence of witchcraft in courts of law. And so, the traditional leaders and elders make attempts to resolve such cases in the Local council courts. Most of the cases end up with harsh punishment either through banishing them from the village or killings out of revenge.
Last week, top security leaders in West Nile region told a bold step to resettle members of three families in Ombokoro village, Oleba Sub county Maracha district back to their homes after they were evicted on allegations of practicing witchcraft.
The 39 family members who were evicted on March 3 and were temporarily accommodated at Oleba Sub county headquarters before they were reunited with their village mates on March 23 under tight security.
How accusations started
Locals in the village claim the evicted family members were responsible for the death of some members of the village.
Nathan Ayiko a member of the evicted families denied the witchcraft allegations made against them but rather attribute their woes to a long standing land conflict with some residents of this village.
“Two members in this village got involved in accidents, although they are steadily recovering, the locals blamed this on us. The major issue here people hate us because we have land. We are few in number yet having fairly a large piece of land. But our brothers and sisters with whom we have the same great grandparents are populated on the little land. We are not witch” Nathan said.
Kana Candia one of the aggrieved elders in the village said: “Some names were mentioned by these people (victims), including my name. Four of the six people have died. Two of us have remained. And they clearly said they had finished our issue and we are about to die. And it is true that I have been sick. That is exactly what caused the eviction.”
Some of the family members who were evicted returning to their home. Photo by Atiku Robert.
Rose Adia another aggrieved member of the village said: “Before these people are returned, let the, bring back to life my deceased daughter. I don’t want to see them here. If you (government officials) say that these people have no witchcraft, come and sleep here tonight and see what will happen to you.”
During the resettlement exercise by the police and the army, the Resident District Commissioner Maracha, Simon Lolim convened a community security meeting at the village and said it was illegal for the locals to evict the people.
“There is no law in Uganda saying that eviction is allowed. You evict your brother, who are you? Those who did the destruction will face the law. Let us work together. When problems come, the elders and government are there,” he said.
Jonathan Musinguzi, West Nile regional police commander said: “We are going to arrest whoever was involved in the eviction and destruction of property of the accused so that others can learn a lesson from them.”
Bernard Tuhame the West Nile army brigade commander asked the locals to be law abiding in order to stay peacefully in Uganda.
“My people of Maracha, keep law and order if you want to remain in Uganda. If we can receive Sudanese and DRC refugees and keep them here. Then how do you chase away your neighbor from his own land? We shall pick whoever has made a mistake and we charge them.” the brigade commander said.