Accused Witch Condemned to 30-Year Sentence in Ghana

A ten-year-old accused witch has been condemned to spend the next thirty years as the virtual property of a local shrine.   The girl, who has not been named by news agencies, was accused of being responsible for defecating in a classroom by authorities at the Abenaso Presbyterian Primary school in Ghana's Kwaebibirem District.  According to Ofei Larbi, the fetish priestess consulted by the authorities, the girl has confessed to being a witch able to transform into a cockroach.  It was in this form that she reportedly defecated in the school in an attempt to force its permanent closing.   Representatives for the priestess also ordered the girl's family to pay cows, goats and an amount of 5,000 in Ghanaian currency before she could be released to her family.

Belief in fetish priests and their ability to mediate between the dead and the living is extremely strong in parts of west Africa, including Ghana.   They usually live and worship in simple fetish shrines and typically demand livestock, liquor, money, and occasionally sex slaves as payment for their services.    Village authorities offered the girl to the priestess as payment for finding the true culprit for the recent defecations   After a teacher implicated one of the students, an angry mob captured her and sent her to the nearby Birim shrine.

According to the girl's mother, Esther Gyamfua, the family was able to purchase the goats for the priestess by selling part of their land but the other demanded items, including cattle and money, are beyond their ability to pay.   She insisted her child is not a witch and their only hope is for people to assist them raise money to buy the items. “The priestess has warned we will all die if we don’t buy the items for sacrifice but we don’t have the money” she told media.

There is no word yet on how government authorities will respond to this situation.

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