Posted on May 9, 2005

‘Girl Tortured Over Witchcraft Claims’

Paul Cheston, Evening Standard (London), May 9

A child accused of witchcraft by her aunt was tortured, tied up in a laundry bag and almost thrown into a river to drown, the Old Bailey heard today.

The aunt changed her mind when she realised that under British law she would be jailed for murder, the court heard.

The 39-year-old — who, like the child, cannot be named for legal reasons — and Sita Kisanga, 35, deny conspiracy to murder and child cruelty between August 2002 and January last year. The two women lived with the eight-yearold in Finsbury Park.

The aunt and child came to Britain from Angola in 2002. Patricia May, prosecuting, said that when she arrived the aunt claimed to be the girl’s mother — but the girl’s parents are thought to be dead. Ms May said the girl began to be mistreated “when Kisanga’s son accused her of . . . going out at night using witchcraft to harm household members”.

Chilli peppers were rubbed into the girl’s eyes, she was beaten with a belt, cut with a knife and starved, the court heard.

Mrs May said there was “an agreement between the aunt and Kisanga to do away with [the girl] by putting her in a laundry bag and throwing her in the river close to Kisanga’s home.” She would have died, the jury heard, but for the intervention of Kisanga’s brother Sebastian Pinto. Ms May said: “He came around when the girl was about to be thrown in, and advised against doing so on the grounds that if they did . . . they would go to prison.”

Pinto, 33, and his girlfriend Kiwonde Kiese, 21, both of Hackney, deny aiding and abetting child cruelty. The case continues.