A report by a Mombasa Catholic Diocese group suggest that over 160 elderly people have been killed in Kilifi and Kwale in Counties in the last two years by gangs of youths believing or at least claiming that those killed were perpetrating witchcraft.
The figures quoted were collated by the Haki Yetu Organisation (HYO) from reports by chiefs supported by information from police reports. The HYO is a human rights advocation organisation operating out of Mombasa and advocating for the rights of marginalised groups of people. Gabriel Dolan, pictured above, is their founder and executive director.
HYO says that at least 130 senior citizens were Killed in Kilifi County and a further 22 in Kwale County.
Killings of alleged witches: death rate could match Shakahola cult deaths
Quoted in the Daily Nation, the report states that the number of deaths could well be an underestimation. Th report says: ‘The figures are quite conservative. There are more deaths related to witchcraft that may not have been captured.’
The report goes so far as to say that the killing of elderly people on the Coast could have resulted in a greater loss of life than the Shakahola cult deaths.
The HYO report suggests that a desire by youths to inherit land from elderly parents may lie at the root of the problem and goes on to blame the police and local chiefs for inaction.
Deaths relating to witchcraft allegations: scandal and inaction
The Executive Director of HYO, Father Gabriel Dolan, told the Daily Nation, “As this research illustrates, many elders have been killed in the past few years… and the numbers could be higher than those that died in Shakahola. This is a scandal that is ignored because victims are old and no one in a position of responsibility dares to call deaths by their proper name – murders – and respond accordingly.
“They stand idly by and say they cannot handle matters of witchcraft as it is a cultural matter.”
The HYO report calls for greater state intervention to protect family land, a greater effort to investigate and solve the murders, together with greater public awareness of the problem.
In addition the report also demands the promotion of traditional dispute resolution structures to protect older people according to Article 57 of the Constitution.