Witchcraft and witch-hunt have been practiced widely especially in Africa and those accused of being witches often face execution.The elderly who are identified as witches are therefore at risk of being murdered as a result.
A range of accusations are leveled against witches such as causing impotence, turning milk sour, causing disease and death.
An elderly couple in Uriri, Migori County escaped death by a whisker after irated neighbours accused them of being witches.
The angry residents descended on the home of the couple and torched three houses sending property of unknown value going up in flames.
This was after a Tanzanian “seer” went into the home of the couple and allegedly found a decomposing human hand from the house of the 78-year-old.
According to the villagers, the man has been suspected of being responsible for mysterious deaths that have hit the area recently.
To the neighbours, the unearthing of the human hand also explained the high number of unexplained sicknesses and tragedy in the area.
With their lives in danger, the couple fled and sought refuge at the Uriri police post as the angry residence vowed to lynch them once they step back to the village.
This belief of witchcraft is more dominant in rural areas where poverty usually leads to strained human and in-law relations, and where most illnesses cannot be explained. There are certain laws that deal with witchcraft but the beliefs are so strong that these laws hardly limit their effect in the community. The issue of witchcraft is seen to be associated with poverty, disease, and ignorance.
There is 23.9% prevalence of minor psychiatric disorders in an adult African rural community with a significant association with age, marital status, employment, income and educational level.The traditional healer generally provides therapy for all mental illnesses unless uncontrollable behavior necessitates referral to mental hospital.
Usually when clients go to a traditional healers they are told that a witch in the community has cast a spell on them. The tendency is to seek this witch and eliminate from the community. Sometimes the houses are burnt and the family members are harmed.