Standing silently, the 8-year-old girl in Papua New Guinea could only watch as her mother was stripped and tortured until she succumbed to her injuries, catching her last breath in front of her daughter last Wednesday.
The woman, identified as Lorna Nico, 39, from Kira LLG in the Sohe district, was married to a man from Mumeng and moved to Bulolo to be with the husband and start a family.
Lorna Nico died after being tortured in front of her daughter after a so-called “prayer warrior” accused her of having satanic powers and being a witch, bringing bad luck into the community.
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She was tortured so badly that salt was used to pour into her wounds causing her more pain while her daughter watched her die.
The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Reverend Jack Urame, condemned the actions of the community in Mumeng, saying that the mixing of religion and sorcery was “not what the Bible taught”.
He said there was “a shift in people using Christianity to identify suspected sorcerers which was now being used to destroy families and commit murders”.
“Using Christianity as a means to enact killings against those accused of sorcery is an idea condemned by the churches. I as the head of the Lutheran Church do not promote such
acts and I condemn the actions taken against the innocent family,” Reverend Urame said.
‘Prayer warrior’ accused
Morobe Rural police commander Superintendent David Warap said that the use of the “prayer warrior” pushed the community to commit the torture and the killing.
“The prayer warrior, using the name of the Lord, started performing a prayer ritual and was describing and naming people in the village who she claimed had satanic powers and were killing and causing people to get sick, have bad luck and struggle in finding education, finding jobs and doing business,” Superintendent Warap said.
“Upon the woman’s announcement, youths and villagers agreed to kill Lorna and when the village councillors and mediation group tried to stop them, they threatened the group,” he added.
Lorna Nico saw the group coming and told her family to run.
“She had with her, her 8-year-old who she was trying to drag and run,” Superintendent Warap said.
“She looked ahead to her older children and told them to run for their lives. The group of men quickly surrounded Lorna, dragged her and her daughter back to the village and proceeded with the torture.”
Children fled in fear
After Lorna Nico died, the group of men left her out in the sun and then they dug a hole and threw her in, covering her body with a canvas.
The children, in fear of their lives, left the village and walked with several other villagers to the nearest police station.
Police got to the scene and removed the body and took the body to Angau Hospital morgue in Lae where the corpse will be examined.
The family have now petitioned the Bulolo MP Sam Basil Jr to ensure the police investigate the case and arrests are made.
The petition also states that the woman who was brought in as a “prayer warrior” should be identified and dealt with by police for falsely accusing their mother.
They have also demanded that the rule of law must prevail and they would not accept any form of compensation for their loss.
Police are continuing their investigation.
Sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea is a growing social crisis.
Republished with permission.