Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Victim Alleges Torture, Abduction by Yahya Jammeh’s Witch – Hunters


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By Yankuba Jallow

A victim of Yahya Jammeh’s witch – hunting activity on Thursday, 14th November 2019 explained in detail her ordeal about the concussion given to her by the squad of witch – hunters.

Therese Gomez said she was forcefully taken from her in – laws home by witch – hunters when she went to see her daughter after she gave birth. She said this was in Makumbaya village – West Coast Region.

“There were people who came from Serrekunda one morning and they told us they were Yahya Jammeh’s people. They found my daughter had a baby and they found me inside her house. One of the witch – hunters held my hand and asked me to go with him. I refused to go with them, but he held my and insisted that I have to go with them. I never knew where he was taking me to, but I went with him,” she said.

The 46 – year – old told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that only one of the witch – hunters entered their compound and he was dressed in red clothes. She said some women were picked from the rice fields.

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She said she was taken to a bus where she found other women. She said the bus was stationed at the center of the village and there were people drumming and she was asked to board the vehicle.

“I did not like it, but I didn’t have a choice; I have to go with them. Everywhere I turned, he was there and he was holding my hand,” the witness said.

The Manduar born said all the marabouts were dressed in all red and they were having mirrors in their possession.

“This was the first time I saw something of this nature in Manduar,” she said, adding that there were people who wore green clothes (all green).

She said the drummers and the dancers wore green clothes.
“We were not told where we were being taken to and we were not told anything. We were all silent and no one talked to another until we reached our destination,” the witness said.
She detailed that she found some of her neighbours as well as people from nearby communities in the bus and they were transported to somewhere in Kololi where they were held. She said at this time, all of them were worried and she was wondering what crime she has committed.

She said they were taken to a compound in Kololi and upon arrival, they were served lunch but many of them refused to take lunch including herself. She said immediately after the lunch, they were all lined up and they began issuing the concussion to them.

“The people who were dressed in red – red were the ones giving people the concussion. People were going in one – by – one. The place they were issuing the concussion was a toilet,” the witness adduced.

Gomez said she was part of the last group to be issued the concussion. She said she saw the first group of people who were issued with the concussion being carried away to the hall like dead bodies. She said this increased her fear.

“When I saw the way they carried people to the hall I lost my peace, but I wouldn’t do anything because there was no escape route,” she said.

When it came to her turn to take the concussion, she was given a cup full of concussion.
“He filled this cup and gave it to me. They will give it to you and stand there and watch you drink. I was taken to the hall. The cup they gave me was the size of a condensed milk. When I drank it, the taste was not pleasant. After drinking it, I began to have blurred vision. They were undressing people like the way your mother gave birth to you (naked). They birth us and anyone who wants to urinate, they will take you and stand, watch you urinate,” Gomez said.

She said: “We were unconscious. We were moving around and they were kicking our legs off the ground. They were beating us.”

She said the men who were beating them were all dressed in green clothes, adding that they were kicking them with their boots too. She said those who were birthing them were all male.

“They will instruct you to undress and they will stand, watch you undress,” she said.
She said she was released on the same day she was taken to Baba Jobe’s compound. She said at the time she was released, she began becoming unconscious until when she reached her home she became completely unconscious. She said she became weak and her vision became blurred after taking the concussion.

“I was seeing only blood for three days. My vision was blurred,” she said, adding “when I got home, the concussion finally got me high and I couldn’t do anything.”

She said she was told by her relatives that she was doing silly things including attempting to go to the garden in the middle of the night.

She said after the incident, she was stigmatized in the community and people used to run away from her because everyone take her to be a witch. She said she stopped associating with people because anytime she sees people, they run from her and it reminds her of the trauma she underwent because of the concussion. She said her family abandoned her and left her lonely with her children.

“People used to tell my children that I am a witch,” she said.

She said after taking the concussion, she developed stomachache and headache especially when the sun becomes hot.

“Since that time until now, I am always at the hospitals – I moved from one hospital to another. I used all my money on paying my hospital bills,” she said.

She said an old man named Lansana Jarju was severely beaten by the ‘green – green’ resulting to his death. She said Jarju was admitted and died a few days after he was released from the hospital. She added that one old woman Danjang Sowe became weak and could not move after drinking the concussion and died after she was taken home.

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