Witch Hunts In The News

Albino Teenager Raped In Suspected Witchcraft Cure

by William J. Mbangula
Informante.web, Namibia
23 May 2012

The suspected rapist of a 16-year old albino girl was denied bail in Oshakati Magistrate Court on Monday, 21 May. After a tip-off from members of the community the accused, Jonas Mathias, known as Iingumu Netsali (44), from a village near Ongwediva was arrested by the police during the sexual assault. The girl was raped in suspected witchcraft cure.

Prior to the incident the accused had been visiting the victim and enticed her with money and promises of a shiny car, cattle and marriage. On Thursday, 17 May, the two left for a joyride to Ongwediva and visited drinking places, such as Onambiba, Omusheshe, Okamusaati and Corner Shop where they stayed until late in the evening.

On their return to the village, the accused forced his victim into one of his abandoned buildings, where he is alleged to have raped her. This was confirmed by the victim herself.

“He denied raping the girl and he even wanted to expose his genitals to the police as a way to prove that he did not indulge in sexual contact with her. The police sternly cautioned him that a case of public indecency would be opened against him if he persists to expose his private parts in the charge office,” a source told Informanté.

In an attempt to push the matter under the carpet, because the accused is a relative of a prominent Prosecutor, a former Regional Councilor, and a top official from the Office of the President, a team was set up to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the parents of the victim. Led by the uncle of the accused, Justus Ekandjo, a Catholic Church catechist, the mother of the accused, Pelenga Neshuku, brother of the accused, Kanisius Shiindi, who is a member of the Namibian Defence Force and the wife of the accused, Aili Uutoni, they went to press for a settlement under customary law, but the offer was flatly rejected.

In fact, the military man, Shiindi, went a step further to try to muzzle the informants, including the parents of the victim, into not talking to the media. In one of the text messages he sent them, Shiindi, said in part: “Please I don’t want you to talk to Informanté until such time the court has finalised the case of Iingumu. If you do that, you may see the story in the newspaper.”

There is a strong belief among less well-educated sections of the community that if HIV-positive, or people believed to be possessed by witchcraft, sleep with a virgin, more especially an albino virgin, they would be cured, or have their wealth and fortunes boosted. It is said that most of this misleading information is prescribed to them by traditional healers.

The case of Mathias was postponed by Magistrate Mika Namweya to 27 June 2012 for further investigation.


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