Jammeh’s Witch-Hunt Exercise: Woman narrate tales of sorrowful ordeal

Story written by Juldeh Njie

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: A 46-year-old woman from Makumbaya village in Kombo North, said former President Yahya Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunters forcefully dragged her from her house and subjected her to inhuman treatments.
Testifying before the TRRC on Thursday, on events leading to her experience in being forced to swallow concoction prepared by Mr Jammeh, Therese Gomez said she was forcefully taken from her house and taken to an unknown location where people were lined up and forced to drink the concoction without any explanation.
“After I drank it, the thing did not immediately get to my head. They brought me up to the big sitting room, and then I began to feel the whole thing in my head and I began to see blur vision (sick),” she said.
Mrs Gomez said they were preparing to take them back to their homes and that was the time they started to undress people. “They will undress you naked just like the way you were born and will bath you. If you want to urinate, they will take you, and you will squat and they will be there watching you urinate,” she said.
She told the truth-seeking commission that the witch-hunters mated serious beatings on her together with other victims.
Mr Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunting exercise was widely criticised for giving unscientific concoction to many people that render them unconscious and admit to being witches and wizards. Several people later died after they were forced to drink the black water.
Mrs Gomez narrated that upon drinking the medicine, the witch-hunters started using their military shoes and boots to beat them. “They were even using their shoes and boots to kick and slap us.”
She told the Commissioners that she became abnormal and was acting weird after she was released and taken back home.
“I took a bucket and said I was going to the garden at night and my brother’s wife held on to the bucket and said I am not going. So, that was how I also went inside, brought all my clothes and put them outside and said I was going to launder them. My brother’s wife again took all my clothes, packed them and took them inside the house,” she added.
She said she was stigmatised because the young people in the village were saying that she was a wizard and they normally run away from her.
The 46-year-old stated her sister’s in-laws used to bring their children to her after breastfeeding for upkeeping but since they heard the incident, they all abandoned her.
“Those children used to come to me during feasts and will spend their entire feast with me but they have all abandoned me to the extent of telling my children that their mother is a wizard.”
Meanwhile, the victim also told the TRRC that Lansana Jarjue and Danjang Sowe lost their lives as a result of drinking the concoction and beatings mated on them. “One of the old man who was among those who were in the sitting room died because of the drink and the beaten.”
She said there was also another one old woman who they did not beat, but after they made her to drink the concoction, she laid there motionless and that was the way she was taken back to her house and later passed away.

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