Witchcraft trial adds 7 more to Tanzania's death row

A recent witchcraft trial in Tanzania has led to a further seven people being added to the well over 500 convicts believed to be on death row. The case illustrates the difficult position in which Tanzanian courts find themselves: the death penalty is still applicable to murder and a few other serious offences and just three months ago the high court declared it was unable to change the law in relation to the death penalty.

The first time I heard the death penalty passed in court was a moment I have never forgotten. And even though I witnessed courts pronouncing that sentence a number of times in the years that followed, the shock of the actual words was something that always hit me.

Judges draw the line in witchcraft case

WITCHCRAFT is a hot topic in Zambia where the courts seem to deal with such matters more often than in many other countries. In this case the two accused were convicted of murdering an elderly woman, but pleaded their belief in witchcraft as an extenuating circumstance. Though found guilty of murder, their alleged beliefs helped reduce their punishment to a life sentence instead of the death penalty that would otherwise have been mandatory.


Read the judgment here

AS so often in witchcraft-related killings, the victim in this case was an elderly woman. Her name was Monica Kabondo, and on the morning of 18 April 2012, she was at home with several grandchildren when a funeral procession veered off its course and made for her house.

Carried in the procession was a coffin with the body of a two year old child who had died of a fever the day before.

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