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LES FEMMES ACCUSEES DE SORCELERIE

N° 2 Novembre 2013
Feuillet occasionnel de dénonciation des cas de violation des droits humains et des violences à l’égard des femmes

L’accusation des femmes de sorcellerie poursuit son bon chemin en province du Sud-Kivu et la liste des victimes ne fait que s’allonger.

L’insécurité en Province du Sud-Kivu prend de plus en plus des ampleurs inquiétantes et la liste des victimes ne cesse de s’allonger de plus en plus. La manifestation de cette insécurité demeure les cas d’assassinat par étranglement, les cas de vols à mains armées et d’extorsions, etc.
Actuellement dans presque tous les territoires de la province du Sud-Kivu, une nouvelle crise ayant pour base des préjugés concernant la sorcellerie vient de se greffer sur le registre des actes de violences basées sur le genre dont sont victimes pour la plupart les femmes.
En effet, la croyance à ces actes de sorcellerie connait une montée spectaculaire au sein des communautés du Sud-Kivu et même dans d’autres provinces de la RDC et cette hantise se traduit soit par la stigmatisation de personnes soupçonnées, à tort, soit par des actes de justice populaire infligée aux victimes.

Les règlements de comptes, la jalousie, la convoitise des biens appartenant aux femmes accusées de sorcellerie, demeurent les principales motivations de leur drame au sein de leur communauté.
Sans être exhaustif, nous présentons quelques cas d’accusation de sorcellerie :

- Dans le groupement d’Ikoma, territoire de Walungu, en date du 31 mai 2013 à 23 heures et demi, alors que monsieur Mugenzi Kagongwe se trouvait à l’école primaire Mulondole où il preste comme gardien de nuit, sa famille a été attaquée par un groupe des personnes bien identifiées dont certains membres de sa famille et des voisins. Ils ont brulé ses deux maisons pendant que son épouse, Mme Zirirane Mugenzi, et ses sept enfants s’y trouvaient en plein sommeil.
Tous n’ayant pas réussi à échapper, son fils Fikiri (4ans) en est mort calciné et Akili (1,5 an) a reçu un coup de machette sur la tête de la part des assaillants et tous les biens de la famille (produits des récoltes des champs, les effets scolaires des enfants, les habits, …) y compris toute l’épargne ont été calcinés laissant les membres de la famille errant ci et là.
La femme, quant à elle, a été terriblement torturée avec des coups des machettes, des couteaux etc. Elle n’a eu la vie sauve que lorsque les assaillants l’ont crue morte. En effet, la cause immédiate de ces forfaits est la mort de monsieur Nshangalume Kakongwe, beau-frère à la victime. Les auteurs l’ont calomniée, sans aucune preuve objective, d’en être à la base par la sorcellerie et qu’elle devait être lynchée et mise à mort pour sa méchanceté non prouvée. Ils n’étaient pourtant pas à leur premier forfait. Notons que la même victime avait été calomniée en 2012 d’avoir causé, par les mêmes procédés non prouvés, la mort de sa belle sœur.

- Dans le village Karhuliza/Cimbulungu, groupement de Kaniola, territoire de Walungu, mademoiselle Faida Namabinga, jeune fille d’environ 19 ans prétend avoir été envoyée par Dieu pour dénicher tous les sorciers de son village. Ainsi, trois victimes viennent d’être citées dont messieurs Charles Mweze, Jean Rwankuba et madame Nkubonage M’Basirwa qui est, sans preuve aucune, accusée d’avoir administré du poison à plusieurs personnes. Désormais, un conflit ouvert se vit entre la voyante, les membres de sa famille et les « présumés sorciers».

- Dans le village Cirhundu, groupement Luhuku, chefferie de Burhinyin en territoire de Mwenga, madame Balamba M’Chisirika a été lynchée le dimanche 27 octobre 2013 par ses voisins bien identifiés. La victime a été accusée d’avoir causé la mort de plusieurs personnes par sorcellerie.
Plusieurs biens lui ont été extorqués notamment 150 dollars américains qu’elle a obtenus à l’issu de la vente de son cochon, 30 cobayes et toute sa farine de manioc dispersée dans la cour.
- Sur l’avenue Ruvumba, quartier Kajangu, commune de Kadutu, dans la ville de Bukavu, après que mademoiselle Faida Humba, jeune fille âgée de 10 ans, ait été accusée de sorcellerie par ses voisins, sans aucune preuve, la maison de son grand frère chez qui elle logeait a été méchamment détruite en date du 05 novembre 2013 à partir de 20 heures. Toute la toiture, les portes et les fenêtres de la maison ont été détruites.
- A Cirhavanyi, groupement de Bushwira, terroitoire de Kabare, madame M’Muganguzi a, après été accusée de sorcellerie, été victime de plusieurs menaces au cours du mois d’octobre 2013 par les membres de sa belle famille. Ces menaces ont perduré au point qu’elle a été contrainte ce jeudi 5 novembre 2013 d’aller chez un devin pour confirmation pour ne rentrer que le lendemain.

- Au cours du même mois d’octobre 2013, dans le village Nsonga, groupement Bushwira, dans le même territoire, madame M’Ntahiriba, a été accusée de sorcellerie et chassée du village. Elle n’a pas été accueillie par la population de son village natal à Cidjo.

A la lecture des faits, ces accusations semblent être des prétextes en vue de contraindre les victimes soit d’abandonner leurs concessions au profit de leurs tortionnaires, soit des alibis pour un règlement des comptes soit encore des actes de simple jalousie.

En 2011, RFDP avait produit un rapport sur les cas d’accusation des femmes de sorcellerie dans plusieurs groupements du territoire de Kabare (Luhago, Bushwira, Kagabi, Miti, etc…) et dans ceux du territoire de Kalehe pour le troisième trimestre de cette année. Dans ce rapport, des cas d’accusation de sorcellerie avaient été dénoncés mais malheureusement les recommandations formulées aux différents acteurs étatiques et non étatiques semblent n’avoir pas été formellement suivies par tous les destinataires.

L’on est en face de cette récurrence des faits alors que des textes juridiques tant nationaux qu’internationaux relatifs aux droits des femmes ont été ratifiés par le gouvernement congolais mais leur applicabilité effective pour une justice équitable reste problématique.
La loi congolaise face au phénomène de sorcellerie interdit d’accuser une personne de sorcière car ces accusations peuvent inciter à commettre des infractions graves. Selon l’article 74 du code pénal congolais « celui qui a méchamment imputé à une personne un fait précis qui est de nature à porter atteinte à l’honneur ou à la considération de cette personne ou à l’exposer au mépris public sera puni d’une servitude pénale de 8 jours à 1 an ou d’une amende équivalente ».
L’article 78 quant à lui prévoit que « quiconque abusant des croyances superstitieuses de la population, aura sans fondement réel, imputé à une personne un acte ou un événement vrai ou imaginaire, sachant que cette imputation inciterait autrui à commettre une infraction sera considéré comme complice de l’infraction provoquée ».

En effet, accuser une personne de sorcellerie constitue une infraction si les éléments constitutifs suivants sont réunis : une personne est accusée sans fondement, cette accusation est basée sur des croyances superstitieuses, cette accusation a poussé certaines personnes à commettre une infraction contre l’accusée.
Or, il se dégage qu’à la lecture du cas ci-haut décrit et tant d’autres, lesdits cas ont été suivis de la commission des infractions telles que l’administration des coups et blessures, l’homicide, les destructions méchantes des biens, l’extorsion, l’incendie criminel, etc. qui sont des infractions prévues et punies par le Code pénal congolais.
Il est cependant vrai que la loi congolaise est muette quant à ce que la sociologie appelle aujourd’hui « la sorcellerie ». Le législateur congolais éprouve beaucoup de difficultés de qualifier d’infractionnelle ce phénomène puisqu’il est presque impossible de donner des preuves matérielles ou intellectuelles quant à ce. Il est aussi difficile de donner les éléments constitutifs de la sorcellerie tels que : l’élément intentionnel, moral et matériel puisque la sorcellerie elle même n’est pas encore reconnue légalement comme infraction selon l’adage : « il n’ya pas d’infraction ni de peine qui ne soit prévue par la loi » mais, comme dit supra, les organes chargé de la protection des personnes et de leurs biens devront poursuivre les auteurs pour les faits infractionnels qui auront été retenus à leur charge.

Au vu de la recrudescence des cas d’accusation de sorcellerie qui engendrent beaucoup des conflits et des victimes, le RFDP formule les recommandations suivantes :

 Aux gouvernements national et provincial :
o De financer les recherches, à travers nos Universités et centres de recherche, dans les domaines de la sorcellerie et de capitaliser les études déjà disponibles quant à ce en vue de dégager les actions aux différents problèmes que posent ce phénomène.

 A la Police nationale congolaise et au Ministère public:
o De protéger les victimes des infractions qui découlent des accusations de sorcellerie par des actions préventives mais aussi de mener des poursuites judiciaires contre les incitateurs et les auteurs desdites infractions

 Aux autorités locales :
o De prévenir le pire par les actions de médiation entre les parties en conflits avant que les différends ne dégénèrent
o D’alerter le plus tôt les services de sécurité en cas de justice populaire

 Aux ONG de défense des droits de l’homme :
o D’accompagner juridiquement, judiciairement, médicalement, psychologiquement et même économiquement les victimes de ces allégations car souvent vulnérables à plusieurs égards.

 Aux survivantes de ce genre des violences :
o De prendre courage et de saisir les instances judiciaires en vue de sanctionner les auteurs

Dénoncer les cas des violations des droits humains et des cas des violences faites aux femmes, c’est contribuer à la lutte contre l’impunité

Maitre WIVINE KAVIRA BURUTHERE, Avocate

English translation by community member Pyrias

November 2nd, 2013
Special issue on the cases of human rights violations and violence in regards to women.
Accusing women of witchcraft has continued in the province of South-Kivu, and the list of victims is only getting longer.
Instability in South-Kivu is reaching more and more worrying levels, and the list of victims is still growing. This instability is shown in the cases of strangling, armed robbery, extortion, etc.
Right now, in almost all the territories in South-Kivu, a new crisis based on prejudices about witchcraft has been added on to the list of violent acts based on gender, the victims of which are mostly women.
In fact, belief in these acts of witchcraft has grown spectacularly within some communities of South-Kivu and other provinces of the DRC. This fear manifests as the stigmatization of people who are wrongly suspected of witchcraft, or by acts of popular justice inflicted on the victims.
Vendettas, jealousy, and desire for the possessions of the accused women are the main motives for this tragedy in these communities.
We present here an incomplete list of cases that involve accusations of witchcraft:
- In the Ikoma group, in the territory of Walungu, on the 31st of May, 2013, at 11:30pm, Mugenzi Kagongwe was at his job as a night watchmen at the Mulondole primary school when his family was attacked by a group of people identified as including neighbors and members of his family. His two houses were burned down while his wife, Mrs. Zirirane Mugenzi, and his seven children were asleep.
Not everyone was able to escape: his son Fikiri (4 years old) was burned alive, and Akili (18 months old) was hit in the head with a machete by an assailant. Everything the family owned (products from their harvest, the children’s school things, their clothes, etc.), including all their savings, were burned, leaving the family completely homeless.
The wife was tortured with machete blows, knives, etc. Her life was spared only because her attackers believed her to be dead. In fact, the immediate cause of this horrible event was the death of Nshangalume Kakongwe, the victim’s brother-in-law. The culprits accused her, without proof, of causing his death with witchcraft, and asserted that she should be lynched and put to death for her unproven cruelty. This was not the first time this had happened; the same woman had been accused before in 2012 of using the same unproven method to cause the death of her sister-in-law.
- In the village Karhuliza/Cimbulungu, in the Kanoila group in the Walungu territory, Faida Namabinga, a young woman about 19 years old, claims to have been sent by God to root out all practitioners of witchcraft in her village. Three victims have just been accused: Mister Charles Mweze, Mister Jean Rwankuba, and Mrs. Nkubonage M’Basirwa, who is accused of having poisoned several people. From this point on, there will be open conflict between the mystic, her family, and the “presumed witches.”
- In the village of Cirhundu, in the Luhuku group, chefferie of Burhinyin in the Mwenga territory, Balamba M’Chisirika was lynched on Sunday, October 27th, 2013, by people clearly-identified as her neighbors. The victim was accused of having used witchcraft to cause the death of several people.
Many of her possessions were taken, notably 150 American dollars that she had obtained from selling her pig, 30 guinea pigs, and all her manioc flour in the courtyard.
- On Ruvumba Avenue in the Kajangu neighborhood, Kadutu commune, in Bakuvu village, the house belonging to Faida Humba’s big brother was maliciously destroyed after 8pm on November 5th, 2013. Faida, a young girl about 10 years old and who was living with her big brother, had been accused of witchcraft without proof by her neighbors. The entire roof, all the doors, and all the windows of the house were destroyed.
- In Cirhavanyi, in the Bushwira group in the Kabare territory, Mrs. M’Muganguzi was the victim of several threats from members of her husband’s family during the month of October, 2013, after having been accused of witchcraft. These threats continued until she was forced, on November 5th, 2013, to go to a soothsayer for confirmation, not to return until the next day.
- During the same October, 2013, in the village of Nsonga, in the Bushwira group, in the same territory, Mrs. M’Ntahiriba was accused of witchcraft and chased out of the village. She was not welcomed by the population of her birth village, Cidjo.
Reading the facts, these accusation seem to be pretexts for forcing the victims to either abandon their land to the profit of their torturers, vendettas, or even simple acts of jealousy.
In 2011, RFDP wrote a report on the cases of women being accused of witchcraft in several groups in the territories of Kabare (Luhago, Bushwira, Kagabi, Miti, etc…) and Kalehe for the third quarter of the year. This report denounced accusations of witchcraft, but unfortunately the recommendations made to actors in the governmental and private sectors seem to have not been strictly followed by all of the intended targets.
We are faced with this recurring series of events even while legal texts, national and international, relating to women’s legal rights have been approved by the Congolese government. However, their effective applicability for equal justice remains problematic.
Congolese law concerned with this phenomenon of witchcraft forbids accusing someone of being a witch, because these accusations can cause people to commit serious crimes. According to article 74 of the Congolese penal code, “he who, with malicious intent, blames a person of a specific action that harms that person’s reputation or exposes that person to public contempt will be punished with a prison term ranging from 8 days to a year or an equivalent fine.”
Article 78 provides that “whoever abuses the superstitious beliefs of the population, without a basis in reality, to implicate a person of a real or imaginary action or event with the knowledge that this implication will incite the population to commit a crime will be considered an accomplice in the provoked crime.”
Actually, accusing someone of witchcraft is a crime if the following requirements are met: a person is accused without reason, this accusation is based on superstitious beliefs, and this accusation caused certain people to commit a crime against the accused.
Yet, from reading the situations described above and from many others, the aforementioned cases were followed by crimes such as assault and battery, homicide, malicious destruction of property, extortion, arson, etc., which are all crimes described in the Congolese penal code.
However, it is true that Congolese law is mute when it comes to the sociology today known as “witchcraft.” A Congolese legislator would find a lot of difficulty in considering the infractions within this phenomenon, because it is nearly impossible to come up with the constituent elements of witchcraft, such as the intentional, intellectual, and physical elements. Because witchcraft is not yet legally recognized as a crime according to the adage, “there is neither crime nor punishment that is foreseen by the law,” but, as Supra said, the bodies charged with protecting people and their property must pursue criminals for their crimes done to those under their protection.
In view of the increase of accusations of witchcraft resulting in many conflicts and victims, the RFDP has created the following recommendations:
-To national and provincial government:
•Finance research on witchcraft through our universities and research centers and make use of the studies on witchcraft that are already available in order to clear up exactly what different problems this phenomenon poses to the public.
-To the Congolese National Police and the public ministry:
•Protect the victims of crimes that come out of accusations of witchcraft by taking preventative measures, but also by prosecuting the people who incite and carry out these crimes.
-To the local authorities:
•Prevent the worst by using mediation between the parties in conflict, before the disagreements escalate.
•Alert security services as soon as possible in the case of popular justice
-To NGOs that defend human rights:
•Accompany the victims of these allegations legally, judicially, medically, psychologically, and even economically, as these victims are often vulnerable in many ways.
-To the survivors of this kind of violence:
•Be courageous and take legal action in order to punish the criminals.
Denouncing violations of human rights and violence towards women is contributing to the fight against unaccountability.
Wivine Kavira Buruthere, lawyer

Comments

Pyrias's picture

Translation

November 2nd, 2013
Special issue on the cases of human rights violations and violence in regards to women.
Accusing women of witchcraft has continued in the province of South-Kivu, and the list of victims is only getting longer.
Instability in South-Kivu is reaching more and more worrying levels, and the list of victims is still growing. This instability is shown in the cases of strangling, armed robbery, extortion, etc.
Right now, in almost all the territories in South-Kivu, a new crisis based on prejudices about witchcraft has been added on to the list of violent acts based on gender, the victims of which are mostly women.
In fact, belief in these acts of witchcraft has grown spectacularly within some communities of South-Kivu and other provinces of the DRC. This fear manifests as the stigmatization of people who are wrongly suspected of witchcraft, or by acts of popular justice inflicted on the victims.
Vendettas, jealousy, and desire for the possessions of the accused women are the main motives for this tragedy in these communities.
We present here an incomplete list of cases that involve accusations of witchcraft:
- In the Ikoma group, in the territory of Walungu, on the 31st of May, 2013, at 11:30pm, Mugenzi Kagongwe was at his job as a night watchmen at the Mulondole primary school when his family was attacked by a group of people identified as including neighbors and members of his family. His two houses were burned down while his wife, Mrs. Zirirane Mugenzi, and his seven children were asleep.
Not everyone was able to escape: his son Fikiri (4 years old) was burned alive, and Akili (18 months old) was hit in the head with a machete by an assailant. Everything the family owned (products from their harvest, the children’s school things, their clothes, etc.), including all their savings, were burned, leaving the family completely homeless.
The wife was tortured with machete blows, knives, etc. Her life was spared only because her attackers believed her to be dead. In fact, the immediate cause of this horrible event was the death of Nshangalume Kakongwe, the victim’s brother-in-law. The culprits accused her, without proof, of causing his death with witchcraft, and asserted that she should be lynched and put to death for her unproven cruelty. This was not the first time this had happened; the same woman had been accused before in 2012 of using the same unproven method to cause the death of her sister-in-law.
- In the village Karhuliza/Cimbulungu, in the Kanoila group in the Walungu territory, Faida Namabinga, a young woman about 19 years old, claims to have been sent by God to root out all practitioners of witchcraft in her village. Three victims have just been accused: Mister Charles Mweze, Mister Jean Rwankuba, and Mrs. Nkubonage M’Basirwa, who is accused of having poisoned several people. From this point on, there will be open conflict between the mystic, her family, and the “presumed witches.”
- In the village of Cirhundu, in the Luhuku group, chefferie of Burhinyin in the Mwenga territory, Balamba M’Chisirika was lynched on Sunday, October 27th, 2013, by people clearly-identified as her neighbors. The victim was accused of having used witchcraft to cause the death of several people.
Many of her possessions were taken, notably 150 American dollars that she had obtained from selling her pig, 30 guinea pigs, and all her manioc flour in the courtyard.
- On Ruvumba Avenue in the Kajangu neighborhood, Kadutu commune, in Bakuvu village, the house belonging to Faida Humba’s big brother was maliciously destroyed after 8pm on November 5th, 2013. Faida, a young girl about 10 years old and who was living with her big brother, had been accused of witchcraft without proof by her neighbors. The entire roof, all the doors, and all the windows of the house were destroyed.
- In Cirhavanyi, in the Bushwira group in the Kabare territory, Mrs. M’Muganguzi was the victim of several threats from members of her husband’s family during the month of October, 2013, after having been accused of witchcraft. These threats continued until she was forced, on November 5th, 2013, to go to a soothsayer for confirmation, not to return until the next day.
- During the same October, 2013, in the village of Nsonga, in the Bushwira group, in the same territory, Mrs. M’Ntahiriba was accused of witchcraft and chased out of the village. She was not welcomed by the population of her birth village, Cidjo.
Reading the facts, these accusation seem to be pretexts for forcing the victims to either abandon their land to the profit of their torturers, vendettas, or even simple acts of jealousy.
In 2011, RFDP wrote a report on the cases of women being accused of witchcraft in several groups in the territories of Kabare (Luhago, Bushwira, Kagabi, Miti, etc…) and Kalehe for the third quarter of the year. This report denounced accusations of witchcraft, but unfortunately the recommendations made to actors in the governmental and private sectors seem to have not been strictly followed by all of the intended targets.
We are faced with this recurring series of events even while legal texts, national and international, relating to women’s legal rights have been approved by the Congolese government. However, their effective applicability for equal justice remains problematic.
Congolese law concerned with this phenomenon of witchcraft forbids accusing someone of being a witch, because these accusations can cause people to commit serious crimes. According to article 74 of the Congolese penal code, “he who, with malicious intent, blames a person of a specific action that harms that person’s reputation or exposes that person to public contempt will be punished with a prison term ranging from 8 days to a year or an equivalent fine.”
Article 78 provides that “whoever abuses the superstitious beliefs of the population, without a basis in reality, to implicate a person of a real or imaginary action or event with the knowledge that this implication will incite the population to commit a crime will be considered an accomplice in the provoked crime.”
Actually, accusing someone of witchcraft is a crime if the following requirements are met: a person is accused without reason, this accusation is based on superstitious beliefs, and this accusation caused certain people to commit a crime against the accused.
Yet, from reading the situations described above and from many others, the aforementioned cases were followed by crimes such as assault and battery, homicide, malicious destruction of property, extortion, arson, etc., which are all crimes described in the Congolese penal code.
However, it is true that Congolese law is mute when it comes to the sociology today known as “witchcraft.” A Congolese legislator would find a lot of difficulty in considering the infractions within this phenomenon, because it is nearly impossible to come up with the constituent elements of witchcraft, such as the intentional, intellectual, and physical elements. Because witchcraft is not yet legally recognized as a crime according to the adage, “there is neither crime nor punishment that is foreseen by the law,” but, as Supra said, the bodies charged with protecting people and their property must pursue criminals for their crimes done to those under their protection.
In view of the increase of accusations of witchcraft resulting in many conflicts and victims, the RFDP has created the following recommendations:
-To national and provincial government:
•Finance research on witchcraft through our universities and research centers and make use of the studies on witchcraft that are already available in order to clear up exactly what different problems this phenomenon poses to the public.
-To the Congolese National Police and the public ministry:
•Protect the victims of crimes that come out of accusations of witchcraft by taking preventative measures, but also by prosecuting the people who incite and carry out these crimes.
-To the local authorities:
•Prevent the worst by using mediation between the parties in conflict, before the disagreements escalate.
•Alert security services as soon as possible in the case of popular justice
-To NGOs that defend human rights:
•Accompany the victims of these allegations legally, judicially, medically, psychologically, and even economically, as these victims are often vulnerable in many ways.
-To the survivors of this kind of violence:
•Be courageous and take legal action in order to punish the criminals.
Denouncing violations of human rights and violence towards women is contributing to the fight against unaccountability.
Wivine Kavira Buruthere, lawyer

Pyrias's picture

Vos recommendations

Merci beaucoup d'avoir partage cet article avec nous! Les histoires dont vouz avez ecrit sont tres triste, et je pense que vous avez raison avec vos recommendations pour les solutions.

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