EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission –TRRC- Monday began investigation into exiled former President Yahya Jammeh’s witch-hunting exercise with the testimony of its first witness on the matter.
In 2009, Mr Jammeh ordered security forces to round up hundreds of people who he said were performing witchcraft activities.
Victims, who were mainly the elderly living in poor communities in different parts of the rural areas were forced to swallow concoction that caused irritating reactions on their well-being.
Chief Disciplinary Office of the Gambia Police Force at the time, Abdou Colley, told the commission on Monday that he came to know about the exercise when the witch-hunt team created some commotion at his office.
He said people at his work place claimed that there was fire on their building, referring to the invasion of the ‘witch hunters.’
RSM Colley said he observed the presence of a group of people, some of who wore red dresses, with amulets in the forms of cowry shells, mirrors, hides and skins allegedly in search of witches at the police headquarters.
“They said to me that there are marabouts dressed in red clothing going from office to office with the former Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie and other soldiers. Some of them were in mufti while others were dressed in military uniform. When I heard that, I came out and said to myself if anyone should enter my house, I most come out and see what is happening.”
Colley said he followed them from office to office, saying when they left the first floor, he met up with them at the second floor and they continued going around the whole of the office, but in each office that they went to, they will be having mirrors and horns.
He said when they enter into any office, they will ask the office occupier to stand up and they will go round the four corners of the office with their mirrors and horns and when they find nothing, they will go out and go to the next office.
The Police Disciplinary Officer remembered the case of some people pointing at the Inspector General of Police after which they asked him to blow the whistle for a police parade for the identification of people in their target.
“I did not communicate with them directly but by the information I got from those who heard it, they said these people are coming to inspect the offices but they are looking out for witches. That I heard,” he said.
The exercise primarily targeted Gambian communities, particularly those in the region of Foni, where Mr Jammeh himself hailed from, forcing several people to drink a concoction to render many of them unconscious.