[ l i z n o t e ]


March 27, 2000: Tamric Agency - Dar Es Salaam - In few months ago the Catholic Church of Tanzania expressed its intention to establish radio programs in areas mostly affected by Witchcraft-related killings.  Through their broadcast programs the Church members would appeal to the community to get out of their beliefs that woman with red eyes, is a Witch and therefore must be eliminated.

The radio would broadcast religious programs to predominantly Pagan population, especially Shinyanga region in northern Tanzania where more Witchcraft-related killings are being reported, says Reverend Norbert Kija also coordinator of the project.

Last year in September the Shinyanga Regional Police Regional Commander, Mr. Wolfgang Gumbu reported that 256 old women were murdered in connection with Witchcraft suspects.

Efforts to curb the situation ends in vain as officials say that Witchcraft killings cases are very complicated and that it is very difficulty to produce the evidence.

Mwanza region, also in the northern part of Tanzania face similar incidences.  Authorities in those regions have been asking the people to assist the police to curb the situation which, they say is affecting national development efforts.

Reports in another regions including its neighboring Tabora in the western part of Tanzania, show that more than 500 people, most of them women, were killed in various Witchcraft incidents during the last four years.

Research under a sponsorship of the Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) reveal that in 1997, 399 people in Shinyanga region had been killed on Witchcraft beliefs system.  Of these 90 percent were old women who were suspected to be Witches.

Countrywide REPOA says that 1233 people were killed for the same reason during the same period.  Shinyanga, the region whose residents are farmers and animal keepers, accounts for 32 percent of all murders.  According to them, 43 percent of the victims were killed due to Witchcraft suspect.

Researchers say that the causes of women Witches killing as being reported by their respondents, is superstition followed by lack of education.

According to the researchers, the level of development among the people seems to influence the killings suspected Witches in Tanzania.

Both REPOA's research and of the organization of women media workers in Tanzania (TAMWA) reveal that most of the people being killed in Lake region of Mwanza and Shinyanga are old women.

The suspicion of being Witches is by looking at their eyes and if found red, they were automatically associated with Witchcraft practices.  Further more, these old women were lonely or staying alone in their huts.

The analysis by the two organizations shows that these women live in huts without windows while using firewood for their sources of energy.  "Naturally if you stay too long in a smoke hut while blowing fire now and then to make the flame, the eyes will be red," observes a report by REPOA.

Women Witches identification starts at the family level where social relationship has already worsen.  Many stories from the field in Mwanza and Shinyanga in particular say that normally the suspect Witch is a grandmother whose grand children have died for various reasons. Some may have died due to lack of nutrition or other medically diagnosed causes.  But the father of the dead children go out to seek information on the cause from the revealer who generally does not fail to identify the Witch.

Experience have shown that most of them tell their clients that the Witch is within the family and the best way is to eliminate her for she may continue killing other children of the family. Then the revealer tells the client amount of heads of cattle to be sent to someone secretly after which the execution would take place.  "The seers is the one who contract killer," the REPOA explains.

According to the REPOA old women killings in Lake Regions of Tanzania is a process whose main actors are the relatives, the revealer and professional hired killer.  In the process of seeking the cause of the death of the little one, a situation, filed with tension, frustration and anxiety, the culprit is identified.  "Takes its origin fertility in the psychological need to provide an outlet for repressed hostility, frustration and anxiety. It provides a way to explain serious misfortunes and render those who suffer them blameless in the eyes of society," says the REPOA.

Elsewhere in Africa, Witchcraft beliefs is a daily talk in Tanzania.  The government is aware of that, but existing laws fail to define Witchcraft.

The legal system persecutes a person caught with the believed Witchcraft paraphernalia or if proved that such a person has caused death to some one.

It deals therefore with the outcome rather than the causes itself.  In media Witchcraft killings cases are being reported, but as always the case, they treat like any other crime. Other studies shown that Witchcraft killings are not only rampant in Tanzania but go increasing in Africa the whole despite the opinion to introduce Witchcraft ordinances in the past.  Not only in Africa, researchers say that Witchcraft is a worldwide problem, and that in other countries like Holland, England, Scotland similar beliefs had existed and that an estimated 200,000 to one million suspected Witches were burned to death elsewhere in the world, especially in western countries.

Copyright (c) 2000 TOMRIC Agency.  Distributed via Africa News Online.

[Note from thelizlibrary editor: In 2005, and again in December 2006, more than six years after this article originally was published and distributed by the TOMRIC Agency and then republished on this website in 2000, we were contacted via email by Sonja Tiscenko [] of the REPOA, who now claims that the research report of REPOA that repeatedly is quoted and otherwise referenced in the above article, essentially never existed, was never published by them.

Tiscenko writes "During 1999 REPOA provided a grant for research to an independent researcher. The practice is that the research work undergoes a review process before it is eventually published by REPOA, on behalf of the researcher - it is never claimed to be a work by REPOA. In this case the researcher's work did not meet the standards required for publishing, therefore the work was not published by REPOA." (email of December 4, 2006 to

This notwithstanding, something was published somewhere, unless the references and the details cited were fabricated entirely, which does not make sense since it obviates much of the news article. We believe it is possible, albeit unlikely, that the article was written from an unauthorized press release or information prematurely sent out by the researcher. The article is badly written, but this could have been from a less-than-fluent translation into English. Additionally, the disclaimer now from the REPOA could be attempted revisionism in response to pressure from political or religious entities. Importantly, the news article containing these various references was widely distributed worldwide in 2000. In 2005, when the REPOA first contacted us to complain that they had been misquoted, we were unable to obtain any evidence that the REPOA had issued any timely statements or press releases following the original distribution of the article disputing the alleged quotes as fabricated, or claiming that the cited report "was not published by REPOA." The first indication that REPOA takes this position came a whopping five years later.

We made repeated requests of the REPOA for additional evidence and assistance to verify what constitutes a very belated assertion years after the fact that these statements did not actually came from the agency or any report or press release by the agency. The REPOA has not directly responded to these requests with anything helpful. While it is impossible to "prove a negative," credible evidence might be: an explanation of what document the quotes attributed to its report may have come from; the contact information for the original researcher, writer, publisher, and/or distributor of the article; a copy of the "unpublished" research along with detailed explanation as to why the research "was not published" by the REPOA (assuming it was not); an explanation of the long intervening delay in taking action to deny the article. To date REPOA has provided no credible evidence other than to repeatedly write to say that "it didn't say that". And the original newswire article now has disappeared into apparent oblivion.

We do not know what happened in the intervening years, or what politics or policies or personnel or public relations posturing may have changed in the government of Tanzania, or in the REPOA. Revisionism occurs too often to take the REPOA's current statements at face value without more. We therefore have made a choice to leave the article on this website as-is and intact, inasmuch as we believe that the apparent lack of action by the REPOA in 2000, and the agency's failure to produce any evidence that it took action at the time article referencing the REPOA originally was disseminated around the globe are facts that carry more weight than the REPOA's unsubtantiable denial now, and we had no reason to doubt the veracity of the article at the time it was provided to us, in March of 2000.]


Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are copyright 1996-2009 the liz library. All rights reserved.
This site is hosted and maintained by Send queries to: