Africa - Witchcraze! Persecution of Witches

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Witchcraze! Persecution of Witches

Prior to colonial rule, in general, individuals were accused of being magical malefactors and dealt with on an individual basis. Europeanstyle witch-hunts began during colonial rule and still continue. Whether this change of attitude derives from enforced colonialism and/or exposure to Christianity is subject to debate.

Although hysterical witch-hunts and trials are now considered an aberration elsewhere, a relic of history, they are on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. Witches are accused of transforming into bats and night birds, transforming people into zombis or committing murder via lightning or poison. Witchcraft is also blamed for AIDS.

Image In 1992, over 300 people in Kenya were lynched as witches

Image From April 1994 to February 1995, 97 women and 46 men accused of witchcraft in South Africa were killed by mob violence

Image Between January and June 1998, South Africa’s Northern Province reported 386 crimes against suspected witches including assault, property damage, and murder

The Ministry of Safety and Security of South Africa’s Northern Transvaal Province established a Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft, Violence and Ritual Killings. A report published in May 1996 stated that thousands accused of witchcraft had been driven from their homes, losing all their property. In September 1998, a conference was held in Thohoyandou, South Africa to develop strategies to lessen the violence.