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The Kafaba case: is murder now a spectator sport?

BY: Ajoa Yeboa-Afari
It is barbaric to lynch people in this day and age
It is barbaric to lynch people in this day and age

Doubtless the Police Administration has a system by which they decide what a reward to obtain information should be.

But I have been wondering if the sum of GHC2, 000 is enough to lure witnesses to assist regarding a crime such as what happened in Kafaba recently, where murder apparently became a spectator sport.

Inspector General of Police Mr James Oppong-Buanuh has reportedly offered a reward of GH₵ 2,000 to anyone who gives information leading to the arrest of two ‘soothsayers’.

They are seen in a video beating to death 90-year-old Maame Akua Denteh in Kafaba, East Gonja, Savannah Region,
Why only 2,000 and not, say, GH₵20, 000 or even GH₵50, 000? Surely, it will take a substantial amount to entice people to break ranks and ‘snitch’ on those who may even be related to them.

The sickening video of the vulnerable nonagenarian under a hail of blows on July 23 as the townsfolk looked on, some reportedly cheering, has gone viral. Her offence? Two so-called ‘soothsayers’ had declared her “a witch”.

Not surprisingly, the terrible end of the defenceless woman has generated the strongest condemnation everywhere.

So why didn’t the savagery provoke the same revulsion in her townspeople? Why did nobody attempt to rescue her?

If they were transfixed, either by fear or by approval of the savagery they were witnessing, then what is the likelihood of GH₵2000 being sufficient bait?   

And surely, all the spectators, should be found and tried as accomplices.


Tragically, when such examples of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ make headlines in Ghana we hear all sorts of ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ statements.

But after the dust settles, that is usually the end of the matter.

Ironically, it was only a few weeks ago when Ghanaians joined the world to denounce the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis policeman.

And sadly, this is not the first time this column is writing about such Stone Age behaviour in our modern era.

The following are abridged versions of two columns, published in 2015 and 2017:       

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THE 2015 COLUMN:
In its issue of Friday, May 15, 2015, the Daily Guide had a news item with the headline ‘Suspected Witch Escapes Lynching’.

It was accompanied by a photo of an elderly woman, apparently stark naked, surrounded by a crowd.

It was a haunting image. I wondered whether she wasn’t yet another senior citizen in the cruel clutches of dementia or other mental illness.

The crowd in Madina had been prevented in the nick of time by the Madina police from lynching the woman alleged to have “crash-landed”, the impression given that she had fallen out of the sky!

Then, the very next day, the paper reported the astounding news that the alleged witch had been identified as someone who used to live in Canada but is now receiving treatment at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital.  

Our society has been fed a steady diet of the alleged evil powers of old women, so people have come to believe those stories.  

And it seems to me that the two groups of people responsible for the society’s preoccupation with witchcraft are those who profess to be religious leaders and fetish priests.
(Column of May 22, 2015 the case of the lynch mob at Madina.)
 
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THE 2017 COLUMN:
Even as we mourn and ponder in disbelief at what Captain, now posthumously promoted Major, Maxwell Adama Mahama suffered on Monday, May 29, 2017, at the hands of his devilish assailants in Denkyira-Obuasi, Central Region, news has emerged of another  ‘proof of our inhumanity’.

On that same day, in another part of Ghana, a defenceless old woman, too, met a similar fate; another victim of mob injustice: stoned to death.

This second, hardly publicized brutal murder, was of a 67-year old, named as Yenboka Keena, of Tindongo, Upper East Region, accused of being a witch.

According to the Chronicle newspaper of June 1, 2017, based on that accusation, her fellow villagers pounced on her and murdered her.

Where did we as a nation lose it, the Ghana whose religious venues are filled every day of the week with worshippers?

And it is never rich old women, or those with powerful connections, who are accused of being witches.

Major Mahama’s murder and Maame Keena’s murder should be the last such news that Ghana wakes up to hear.
(Column of June 9, 2017 ‘Mob injustice’, the killings in two regions)
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As always, one can point to the need for education to get people to stop blaming personal tragedies and misfortunes on supernatural forces, and seeing particularly old women as witches.

But again there’s another troubling aspect of these matters, the fact that some witnesses to the murders and other criminal acts spend precious time they could have used to alert the police instead on filming the atrocity to circulate on social media.

Perhaps if they had contacted the police first, the victim would have been saved; and they would still have had an action to film, a video of the rescue by the police.

I believe that would have given them a clear conscience when later reflecting on the cold-blooded killing and on their own role in it, whether the filming should have been their priority.     

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