We were tortured and forced to drink the concoction- Widow tells TRRC

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Sixty-one-year-old Adama Gassama said she and her husband –Nata Camara– were abducted by former President Yahya Jammeh’s witch-hunters, forced to drink the concoction and severely tortured him.

Testifying on events leading to their abduction before the TRRC at its public hearing on the 2009 witch-hunting exercise in Essau on Wednesday, Mrs Gassama said the witch-hunters came into their community with a bus and first buried a black goat alive at the village square.

“When they reached our compound and found my husband, they told him that they were there for him and when he asked them for what, they said they were going to treat him. He told them that he was not sick but they told him if he did not go with them, they will call the soldiers,” she said.

Mother of two, Mrs Gassama said the witch-hunters who wore red dresses with mirrors were accompanied by armed soldiers and policemen. “They threatened the old man that if he refuse to get up they will kill him and that was when they got hold of him,” she stated, adding that they caught his two hands and told her [Adama] that she will also go with them.

The widow told the commission that they were taken to the village Bantaba –square-where they boarded the bus and headed to Fort Bullen. She said from Fort Bullen, they were taken to Baba Jobe’s compound in Kololi where they were given the concoction.

“They took us behind and filled the cup with the concoction and drink ordered us to drink it forcefully. When we drank the medicine, we came and laid down until at around 2am. They took my husband behind and beat him. He was shouting and they later brought him back.”

She said when she ask her husband about what happened to him but the man told her that they’ve killed him. “He told me Adama, I will not survive this.”

The widow said Baba Jobe’s compound was filled with abductees and she was given the medicine to drink by a short old man who is said to be the leader of the group.

The 61-year-old gardener also said when she saw the state of those who drank the concoction before her going drinking it, she saw people vomiting and crawling and thought that she thought she was going to die if she drink the medicine.

“It was a big drinking cup that they filled to the brim and gave me. Initially, I refused to drink it, but they said if I don’t drink it, they will kill me. So I had no choice and I had to drink it.”

She said when she drank the medicine, she was not herself and the whole world went black before her eyes.

The exiled ex-president used to mix herbs to produce the substance which he forcefully administered on people he suspected as either witches or wizards in different communities across the country in 2009.

Adama Gassama said she and her husband spent two days in Baba Jobe’s compound and on the second day, they were sitting under a mango tree and saw them bring him and throw him on the ground.

She said her body was limp but she placed her husband on her laps and that was when he felt asleep.

She said upon their release, her husband felt ill and when the commission’s counsel Mariama Singateh asked her whether the beatings have any effect on her husband after his release, she said: “Yes, it was after the beating that all this pain started.”

She told the commission that her husband was taken to Essau hospital and was later referred to Banjul, where they spent 10 days at the hospital and they were released.

She claimed that since their return from Baba Jobe’s compound, her husband has been battling with sickness, saying her husband was going in and out of hospitals till his death. “We were there until when his illness started again. We then took him back to Essau hospital. He died a day before Koriteh,” the widow said.

Story written by Juldeh Njie

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