Vigilantes in Tanzania have reportedly killed over 470 women suspected to be involved in witchcraft practice.
Last week’s killing of five women in Undomo village accused of being witches by a mob is among the 80 people killed each month in the country by vigilante groups who have resorted to taking the law into their own hands.
A report published by a group, Legal and Human Rights Centre based in Dar es Salaam, the country’s capital, showed that 479 mob-related deaths have been reported in Tanzania from January to June this year, including elderly women accused of witchcraft.
The Centre’s Executive Director, Helen Kijo-Bisimba blamed the soaring human rights abuses to the restrictions on freedom following President John Magufuli’s order to ban all political activities until 2020.
According to the report, most of the lynching incidents happened in the country’s main city and commercial hub, Dar es Salaam and in the southern highlands of Mbeya where superstitious beliefs are widely held.
“While 117 deaths have been reported to have occurred in Dar, Mbeya sits second with 33 people lynched followed by Mara with 28 deaths and Geita with 26 deaths,” Kijo-Bisimba said.
The report is coming just a week after police in the western Tobora region launched a manhunt for the suspected killers of the five women who were beaten to death and their corpses burned in Undomo village on accusations of being witches.