Mobs Lynch ‘Witches’ in Haiti for Spreading Cholera Epidemic

Agence France-Presse, December 4, 2010

Haitian mobs fearing a cholera epidemic have killed people whom they had accused of trying to spread the disease, including through witchcraft, police say.

“A dozen people accused of importing cholera to a region that so far has been spared were killed with machetes and stones and their corpses were burned in the streets,” a police inspector said.

A prosecutor, Kesner Numa, said: “These people are accused of witchcraft related to cholera.” The attackers believed the victims were trying to “plant a substance that spreads the disease in the region”.

The first lynching cases took place last week. “Since then we have had cases every day,” the prosecutor said.

Communities in the Grand Anse region in the far south-west of Haiti were refusing to co-operate with investigations into the killings.

“They really believe that witches are taking advantage of the cholera epidemic to kill.” It was not immediately clear if any of the victims had cholera.

Six people were hacked or stoned to death in the town of Chambellan and five others in Marfranc and Dame Marie, officials said.

According to journalists, at least three people were killed by mobs in the city of Jeremie, while several others were killed under similar circumstances in surrounding villages.

Health authorities say Grand Anse is the region least affected by the cholera epidemic, which has killed 1817 in Haiti since mid-October. Only five of those deaths have been reported in Grand Anse.

About half of Haiti’s population is believed to practise the voodoo religion in some form, although many are thought to also follow other religious beliefs at the same time.

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