The Lucrative Business Driving Congo’s Witchcraft Courts

Rodrigue Mangwa, World Crunch, April 5, 2013

One woman now lives with her daughter in a densely populated neighborhood of the city of Bukavu, in eastern Congo. Six months ago, she had been sentenced to permanent exile from her native village of Lemera, in the South Kivu province, after a tribal court tried and convicted her of using witchcraft to kill her neighbor’s three children. .

Another woman from the same village was also convicted of using witchcraft to kill her husband’s concubine, exiled as well by this tribal court, called a Kihango.

In the Uvira highlands, the Bafuliru tribe holds Kihango court three or four times a month. Men and women who are accused of practicing witchcraft are brought before the court to be tried. When a person is found guilty of being a witch, the typical sentence is forced exile, and at least three weeks doing forced labor for the Mwami–the tribal chief.

“The person must leave the community immediately. This saves them from being lynched,” explains tribal elder Edmond Simba.

In this remote Congolese region, many people still believe that sickness, death or accidents do not “just happen”–they are caused by individuals, that must be identified and neutralized. This is done through a tribal justice system based on traditional customs and superstition.

To detect signs of witchcraft, the “judge” uses a nylon thread that is “extraordinary and resistant,” explained the tribal elders that we spoke to. The thread is put on a metal plate, which is heated with fire. If the thread breaks, the person on trial is a witch.

Out of the three tribes living in the Uvira highlands, only the Bafuliru people still use Kihango trials, which have been denounced by human rights activists.

The trials were banned in 1994 by the Bafuliru’s Mwami, only to be resurrected in 2009, after the Mwami declared that it was a tradition that should be upheld. Going against tradition, he said, would be a serious offense. Even though many elders were against it, they approved the chief’s decision, for fear of losing their position in the tribe.

The neighboring tribe, the Bavira people, banned the practice in 2008. The Kihango trials were replaced by a new judicial process, which their Mwami trusted to deal with local disputes.

A lucrative business

It should be noted that the witchcraft trials are not free, and are an important source of revenue for the tribal chiefBefore the dispute can be brought to the court, each party has to pay a mandatory fee of $200–the price of a cow–whether they can afford it or not.

The headmaster of a primary school situated in Rubanga, 10 kilometers from the village of Lemera, says the witchcraft trials are just a way to exploit the local poor farmers in order to generate revenue for the tribal chief. “It would be naïve to think this is a real test of witchcraft. The tribal judges, who are pawns of the Mwami, are bribed to hand out false verdicts,” he says.

In August 2012, one of the judges admitted that he faked the result of the nylon test so that the woman on trial, the granddaughter of a friend, could be spared.

Vincent Lindalo, a local human rights activist, wants to encourage locals to denounce the trials. The villagers who are found guilty – mostly women – are forced to leave their villages to go live in places they barely know.

“Because they are ignorant of the judicial system and are poor, they believe it is impossible to win a trial against a tribal chief,” says Lindalo. “Many people believe the chief is untouchable, because of his position, or that their ancestors’ wrath will fall on them if they accuse the chief of wrongdoing.”

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  • MBlanc46

    I wouldn’t let the Congolese determine what sorts of courts we should have. It’s not my business to determine what sorts of courts they should have. I shall certainly stay far, far away from the Congo.

    • GM (Australia)

      Unfortunately they will not stay away from us. I Remember that only recently there was a bizarre witchcraft murder crime committed by Congolese immigrants in a London (UK) public housing estate. The multicultural advocates should remember, always, that their ways are not our ways.

      • David Ashton

        That’s the trouble – “multi” cultures are different, often incompatible. And very useful to leftist revolutionaries in Australia as elsewhere.

  • a multiracial individual

    How much has White average IQ changed in the past 2-300 years? I mean Whites did this non-sense here just a couple of centuries ago.

    • StillModerated

      About like being a conservative in Brooklyn!

    • IstvanIN

      300 years ago was 1713, we were pretty sophisticated by then, Europe was filled with castles and cathedrals Africans could never hope to create. We in America were creating a brand new nation from nothing. 300 years later Africans are still living like they did 5,000 years ago. Hmmmmm……..

    • bigone4u

      The Salem witch trials in 1692 were an abberation, not the norm. Although I have to admit that there are an awful lot of white Satanists today, but still an aberration.

      • The__Bobster

        The whole incident was sparked by an imported Darkie and a few impressionable pubescent females.

        • Bill

          Yup. It started with a black (what a surprise) teaching young girls about voodoo.

          • PesachPatriot

            I always found the story of the salem witch trials very interesting when I was younger…I remember bugging my parents to take me there for a visit after we learned about it in school. Everyone on the planet at the time believed in witches, ghosts, evil demonic spirits, werewolves, vampires etc as deadly serious real world threats. The entire world was beginning its climb into the modern era.Today these fevered nightmares created by the human mind are fodder for horror movies and ghost hunter reality shows in the west….only in the congo would they have real witchcraft courts. I guess its better than chicago….a witches hex doesn’t generally hit innocent bystanders or peoples cars.

        • bigone4u

          As I recall fourteen people (or 19?) were executed as witches. Blacks create death wherever they go even when they don’t do the crime!

      • NeanderthalDNA

        I’ll take white Satanists over these deadly idiots any day.

    • Erasmus

      But, how many centuries into the future will they still be doing this nonsense in the Congo? Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to stop.

  • StillModerated

    One of the most mind-boggling websites describing Congo is Unamusemnet Park. Crocs on a plane, penis theft by cabbies with gold rings, goats sentenced to prison, etc. You won’t believe its not the Onion!

  • bigone4u

    The old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismueller portrayed Africans more accurately than the MSM does today. And note that Tarzan had no sexual attraction to black women. Nor did he choose to live in an all-black village, preferring to take his family out into the country, where he created a nice home. Likewise, Tarzan was not impressed with tribal witch doctors. Smart guy, that Tarzan was.

    • The__Bobster

      Tarzan was a visionary, the first White man to engage in White flight.

    • Sherman_McCoy

      That Edgar Rice Burroughs musta been racis’!

  • The__Bobster

    Have any penises been stolen recently?

    • rightrightright

      European men in the Middle Ages had theirs stolen it seems, but since the Reformation, not.

    • Sherman_McCoy
    • Sloppo

      I’m not sure if they use penises, but traditional African medicine utilizes testicles and various other body parts. Here is a link to an article about a man of European ancestry who recently had his testicles “live-harvested” and cooked by a bantu medical professional. I don’t believe the article specified which medical condition was afflicting the bantu doctor’s patient.

    • nobody

      Africans don’t get fat. Sometimes they get that fat look, but that is just bloating from malnutrition. I feel bad for them just like anybody else, but it’s not like Africa is a barren wasteland. If you haven’t got that whole agriculture thing by 2013 then maybe nature is trying to tell you something.

  • dd121

    Well, at least some of them are smart enough to realize that the practice is merely extortion.

    • Erasmus

      I imagine with a little research one might find out that a lot of the revrums come from families with a tradition of being witch doctors going back generations.

  • Erasmus

    Stop being so judgmental. Bring them here to the US! They have so much to contribute to our poor benighted Graeco-Roman culture. So, everyone please just STFU and continue to “Celebrate Diversity!” **gag**

    • GM (Australia)

      Unfortunately that what is happening, it’s no joke, London has them and I am sure there are now many Congolese refugees/illegal migrants causing trouble and generally not “fitting in” in most civilized parts of the world.

      Unfortunately also, we can expect more of this unwelcome diversity as time goes on. In the world of academia the general line of thinking is that diversity and multiculturalism is one of the best ways to solve so many of this world problems. Obviously many of these professors who are paid to advise governments as well as teach and solve the problems of tomorrow’s world just do not live in the real world.

  • Sherman_McCoy

    She’s a Witch! May we burn her?
    How do you KNOW she’ s a witch?
    Because she LOOKS like one!
    . . .
    And what do you burn APART from witches?

    • Steiner

      Should’ve built a bridge out of her instead. Its a foolproof test.

      • Sherman_McCoy

        It’s a fair cop.

  • refocus

    Lucrative ? Ha ha

    These quaint jungle people know nothing about the savagery of “court”.


  • Epiminondas

    Africans are not alone. Affirmative action here is a form of witchcraft practiced by blacks who think they can magically acquire the power of the white man by forcing him to grant blacks legal equality through force of law. We would be better off trying to turn lead into gold.

  • Michael_C_Scott

    Let me guess; the term “kihango” applied to these courts is merely Swahili for “kangaroo”.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    “Every death which occurs in the community is ascribed to witchcraft, and some one, consequently, is guilty of the wicked deed. The priesthood go to work to find out the guilty person. It may be a brother, a sister, a father, and, in a few extreme cases, even mothers have been accused of the unnatural deed of causing the death of their own offspring. There is, in fact, no effectual shield against the suspicion of it. Age, the ties of relationship, official prominence, and general benevolence of character, are alike unavailing. The priesthood, in consequence of the universal belief in the superstition, have unlimited scope for the indulgence of the most malicious feelings, and, in many cases, it is exercised with unsparing severity.” Wilson’s Africa, page 223.”

    ‘ ‘ ONE of the Africans’ deep-rooted superstitions is witchcraft, to the operation of which they generally ascribe disease and death, the very infirmities of age being attributed to the same influence. The doctor, being sent for upon emergencies of this nature, gives some root or drug to his patient, accompanying the administration of it with a farcical expression of countenance, and a mysterious assumption of manner, pretending to charm from the sufferer some noxious reptile, by which he alleges that the malady is occasioned, and contriving, at the same time, secretly to produce one, which is supposed to have been withdrawn from the person afflicted. If the patient should happen to recover, the Igiaka is greatly commended for his skill, and obtains an adequate remuneration ; if, on the contrary, the sickness should increase, another doctor, called the ‘ discoverer of bewitching matter,1 is then summoned, who professes to discover the party supposed to have bewitched him. The guilt having been affixed, after many absurd ceremonies, upon some unfortunate wretch, a report is made to the chief, who directs torture to be inflicted on him, for the purpose of eliciting confession. The usual method of torture is by the application of heated stones to the tenderest parts of the outstretched body, the hands and feet being first made fast to four stakes at equal distances, while myriads of ants are scattered over the agonized victim, whose skin is exposed to the painful gnawing of these swarming insects. It can be no matter of surprise that innocent persons, subjected to these terrible punishments, should be induced to confess the agency of which they have been accused, and instances are on record of many individuals, perfectly guiltless, who have admitted the crime rather than to undergo the fiery ordeal, through a natural dread of its horrors.” Steadmari’s Africa, Vol. /., page 37.

    ” When a person of influence is taken ill, or dies, the cause is eagerly sought after, not in the nature of the disease, but in some person who was at enmity with the deceased, or who had acted in some way to excite suspicion. This was very natural in them, as they did not believe in an overruling Providence. It was the universal belief, as well as their wish, that men would live alway, and that death was entirely the result of witchcraft, or medicine imparted by some malignant hand, or of some casualty, or want of food. The death of the poor excited but little sorrow ; and less surmise ; on the other hand, I have known instances where the domestics of a principal man have been murdered in cold blood, just because it was suspected that they had something to do with their master’s sickness.” Mofats Africa, page 292.”

    All from Hinton Helper’s “Of the Negroes in Negroland”

    Nothing has really changed. That hellhole needs to be quarantined, all access in and out monitored and controlled. Sub-Saharan genetics are the greatest danger and impediment to the Human race in the world.