PNG police arrest suspect in torture and killing of women in ‘sorcery’ case

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Southern Highlands commander Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen (left) with Assistant Commissioner (Western) John Kale in Mendi
Southern Highlands commander Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen (left) with Assistant Commissioner (Western) John Kale in Mendi ... ensuring suspects in the torturing and killing of women are arrested. Image: Peter Wari/The National

The National

A Papua New Guinean primary school teacher has been arrested for allegedly torturing a woman with a hot knife in sorcery-related violence in Southern Highlands’ Kagua Erave last year.

Southern Highlands commander Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen said the 35-year-old teacher, from Aiya’s Pawayamo village, was arrested on Monday.

He said the teacher was sighted in Mendi town by an informant who alerted the Mendi Criminal Investigation Department.

The teacher is charged with three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and five counts of kidnapping.

Chief Inspector Yangen said the three women who died from the sorcery-torture had been identified as Yondopame Kama, Nancy Gibson and Bale Mana. The two survivors are Magdah Michael and Maria Cedric.

He said the five women were accused of killing a man through sorcery and were held captive on December 4 in Pawayamo village.

Three died from injuries suffered in the ordeal and the two survivors are now under police protection.

Video went viral
Chief Inspector Yangen said the teacher was believed to have pressed a hot knife onto the body of Mana who was crying in the middle of video a that went viral on social media. Mana died.

“The teacher was clearly identified in the last part of the video wearing a black round neck shirt, long trousers carrying a bilum bag,” Chief Inspector Yangen said.

“He is armed with a bush knife with his left hand which he used in the middle of the video with a piece of cloth as mask covering his face to protect his identity and [sunglasses] on his head.

“A well-educated man is supposed to educate and refrain people from humiliating innocent mothers and women in public. We will hunt down his accomplices,” Chief Inspector Yangen said.

“The first arrest in the murders was a ward councillor charged under the Summary Offences Act for obstruction of police duties. He is now out on K500 court bail.

“Our next target is the Usa ward councillor. He was the one who assured Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Anton Billie that he would work with the police to identify the suspects, but has gone into hiding.

‘More arrests soon’
“We will continue with investigations and more arrests will be made soon. We will not rest until the uncivilised perpetrators are arrested.”

He said police needed help from the local government presidents, councillors, village court magistrates, women leaders and church groups to provide information to arrest the suspects.

The video of the torture of the women posted on social media prompted urgent police investigations.

The United Nations condemned the recent sorcery accusation-related violence and called for the immediate prosecution of those responsible.

Republished with permission.

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