A trial in the UK this week has revealed a worrying but sadly not unique view of witchcraft. 15-year-old Kristy Bamu was killed for being a "witch" He was beaten and tortured to death by football coach Eric Bikubi and his partner Magalie Bamu.
His ordeal, prior to death, lasted 4 days. It took place in the home they all shared. Magalie was Kristy's sister. Kristy was in London with his siblings, to spend Christmas with their sister. When the couple began to believe that Kristy was possessed they attacked him. Kristy's problems began when he "wet" himself. This led Bikubi to accuse Kristy of witchcraft.
Kristy's battered body was found on Christmas Day. 2010. The London Evening Standard reported that, "His face and head were covered in deep cuts and bruises, his ears twisted and two teeth knocked out with a hammer." "Of the 101 internal injuries, 35 were caused by sharp objects and 66 by blunt instruments. A screw was found in his bowel. Among torture items police found were pliers, floor tiles, a chisel, bits of wood and knives." The beatings were described as, "unspeakable savagery and brutality"
During his terrible ordeal Kristy even spoke on the phone to his father in Paris. Sadly his father did not believe Kristy when he said that Bikubi was going to kill him.
Yesterday, March 1, 2012, Bikubi and Bamu were found guilty of the death of Kristy. The trial revealed such horrific injuries and details that the jury were told they would never again be called for jury service. The pair of killers are awaiting sentence.
Kindoki is a type of witchcraft that is popularly believed, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, and among a community of 8,500 in London. Kristy's death and this week's trial has shown something which must be stamped out. It has no place in the world. It definitely has no place in the UK, especially in the 21st Century.
In the end Bikubi tried to drown Kristy.and he died from a combination of drowning plus the beatings to his head, chest and limbs."
Following the trial TV news programs in the UK have shown video footage of children being "cleansed of their demons", some of them in the UK and some in Africa. The children are usually beaten. The degree of the beating depends on the individuals. It has also been revealed that the beatings are often paid for. It is a way for the "pastors" to earn money. Slight of hand often is used to fool parents. Gullible people willing to believe, are easily led.
"Experts have warned that a misguided belief in witchcraft now posed a greater threat to children in Britain than those in Africa. Adrift from the restraining force of their communities, there is little to stop young migrant Africans living in London letting their beliefs in sorcery and exorcism running out of control - with potentially murderous ends".
In 2005 the BBC reported that children were being trafficked into the UK for use as "human sacrifices". Police were facing a wall of silence and it seems little has changed.
All of the links show that some children suffer terrible fates, often at the hands of those who should be caring for them.
Update March 5, 2012 Sentence has been passed on Bamu and Bikubi. The Old Bailey Judge, Judge David Paget told the pair that they were guilty of "prolonged torture involving mental and physical suffering being inflicted before death". 15-year-old Kristy suffered 130 injuruies to his body, leading up to his death.
Sky News has reported that, "The judge accepted that Bikubi's mental damage may have made him more inclined to believe Kristy was a witch and a threat to a young child of the family. But he added: "The belief in witchcraft, however genuine, cannot excuse an assault to another person, let alone the killing of another human being." Both Bikubi and the Bamu family hail originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where accusing children of witchcraft and then exorcising them is commonplace.
Magalie Bamu, 29, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in jail and her partner Eric Bikubi, 28, to a minimum term of 30 years.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog