By Yankuba Jallow
Fatou Darboe, a 60 – year – old survivor of the 2009 witch-hunting exercise has told the TRRC that she became a high blood patient after she was forced to drink hallucinogenic concoction by her captors.
She said at the time of the witch-hunt incident, she had six children who were all under her care. She said she was engaged in agriculture wherein she was sustaining her family from her farming activities. She told the TRRC that she cannot do farming now and she does not go anywhere. She said as a consequent of her abduction by the witch-hunters, she cannot work now and her children are the ones taking care of her.
“I am under the care of my children. They are the ones taking care of me,” she said.
“I cannot do anything now. I cannot work now. My fundamental human rights have been violated.”
Darboe appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Wednesday, 27th November 2019 in Sibanor in their ongoing Regional Hearings on the 2009 witch-hunting activity.
The Sintet born told the Commission the witch-hunters on Sintet on a Monday in the year 2009. She testified she got the news of the arrival of the witch-hunters while she was in Kalaji attending a funeral.
“I decided to return home (Sintet) because I did not want anything to happen to my family. I preferred to be given the medicine (concoction) to my family drinking it,” she said.
She addedwhen she arrived in Sintet, she was captured by one of the witch-hunters while she was on her way home. She testified the witch-hunter looked into her palm, but he did not speak to him. She said the witch-hunter wore red clothes with white lines on the trouser and he was holding a horn which was adorned with cowries’ shells. She added the witch-hunter instructed a soldier to take her to the bus.
“I saw soldiers and there was quietness in the village,” she said.
She testified the soldiers were capturing people. She said the bus she boarded on was fill to capacity.
“We were all women. We fill the bus to its capacity. There were no girls in the bus,” she said.
She said the men fill two vehicles.
“Those who refused to board on the bus were beaten with sticks, she added.
She noted they went to Kanilai, the home village of former President Yahya Jammeh where they were made to drink a concoction which made them unconscious. She testified the men were the first to drink the concoction and she observed that all those who drank the medicine fell down on the ground. She said her friend Sansang Camara died the same year he drank the concoction because her intestines were damaged by the substance.
According to her, she drank the concoction in a place that looked like a bathroom or toilet. She said after drinking the concoction, she was ordered to undress and was bathed by young soldiers.
“I fainted. I was not aware of anything around me. I spent the whole night like that without realizing anything. I regained my senses the following morning,” she remarked.
She testified the folowing morning, the witch-hunters began asking them individually the number of people they have eaten. She added that some people admitted that they were witches because they wanted their captors to release them from custody.
“All those released on the second day were those who admitted that they were witches,” she said.
She said in the first two days, she was adamant not to admit anything because she knew she wasn’t a witch and she hasn’t eaten anyone. She said on their third day in captivity, she decided to admit that she was a witch so that she could be released even though she knew what she was saying was inaccurate.
“I told them that I killed two people. If I had not told them that, they won’t have released me,” she said.
She added she was released on Wednesday at around 1 am.
She said she contracted high blood and other infections after she drank the concoction.