Mob burns sorcerer to death

Ramcy Wama with the Post-Courier:
A TRAGIC and brutal sorcery-related murder took place in full view of hundreds of onlookers in a Mount Hagen City suburb in Western Highlands Province yesterday morning. The relatives of a six-year-old boy doused petrol on a woman whom they had suspected of killing the boy with sorcery and burnt her alive.

The newspaper ran the bonfire as its cover photo today (gore). [Via the BBC]



    1. It was the poor woman who was murdered, and the police are acting accordingly. The child the mob accused her of killing with sorcery was obviously not murdered. Germ Theory isn’t exactly strong in Papua New Guinea, it seems…

  1. It would be helpful if, when quoting an article that mentions a town or region, you add a note indicating what country we’re talking about to provide some context.

      1. It happened in “Mount Hagen City suburb in Western Highlands Province” in Papua New Guinea. The victim was from the “Enga Province,” also in Papua New Guinea.

  2. Hmmm, it doesn’t say what country this happened in.  Either Mount Hagen is REALLY famous, or “west highlands” is.  The Scottish Highlands are pretty famous.  I’ll just go ahead and assume this happened in Scotland rather than clicking on a link with gore, or googling.

    1.  With the BBC reporting this, and the Western Highlands Province being the location, I thought maybe this was Scotland?  But it sure doesn’t sound like Scotland.  I’m not up on my Papua New Guinea regional geography.  I’d guess less than 1% of Americans are.

      1. I’d say I’m in the top 1% of American’s in terms of geography just for knowing Port Moresby is the capital of Papua New Guinea.  I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who didn’t know the name of the third largest city in a country with a far smaller population than the city I live in.

        1. You certainly know more than the young girl I met who asked me what language we speak in England. But then that was in Georgia.

      2. >>But it sure doesn’t sound like Scotland.<<

        Yeah right. "No True Scotsman."

        Just kidding. We can see from the link it's Papua New Guinea, but I can't fault our fellow Boingers saying the header could use A TAD MORE CLARIFICATION. 

    2. Paste “Mount Hagen City” into Wikipedia and receive an article whose first sentence reads:

      “Mount Hagen (German: Hagensberg) is third largest city in Papua New Guinea.”

      Wikipedia and Google search are miracles, and should have their own holidays.

  3. In my desire to found out in which country this occurred and to get a little more context I clicked the first link which, thankfully, didn’t have pictures. However what I read was more horrifying than I think a picture would have been.

    Most of the time I find context helpful in understanding a story that at first seems ludicrous. This is not one of those cases where context just makes it worse.

    1. Well, there isn’t necessarily good reason to expect the journalistic standards involved to be completely up to snuff, and it’s quite possible some of said context was outright fabricated.  Small consolation.

    1. Agreed, this post title is inappropriate. The mob burned a woman to death. A human being. Not a sorcerer. Not even a suspected sorcerer. They set an innocent person on fire.

    2. “Sorcerers do not exist”   — that’s what they WANT you to think.  — What, too soon?    SRSLY, you fools,  would it have been ok to murder a non-innocent woman?  

    3. There are people who believe they have magic powers. Probably way more people believe they have magic powers than people who claim to have the powers. 

  4. They were convinced they were lynching a dangerous criminal.  The people accused of this are usually older woman who lack male family members to defend them from accusations.  Add in a dose of crowd hysteria, a lack of education and a tolerance for violence.

    1. And a belief in fairy tales. You don’t have to be particularly well-educated to not assume “witchcraft” is the answer to most questions. These are people who have been preyed upon by fraudulent, self-serving “spiritual leaders” to the point where their every day perception of the world could well be considered borderline psychotic.

    2. Was there a ‘lynching’?
      That would suggest a person was dead, or at least unconscious, before having the flesh, muscle and sinew slowly incinerated from their bones.
      According to the article this woman was burned alive.
      While children recorded it on their cellphones.

        1. I bow to your nation’s more creative use of torture definitions.
          Here we call a hanging ‘a hanging’, a burning ‘a burning’. Makes programme notes so much easier.

  5. I had a lady in my neighborhood in the Peace Corps in West Africa accused of sorcery. She didn’t die, but her house was burned to the ground. My houseboy believed a witch put a lizard in his belly — and he recounts how a traditional doctor removed it in front of an audience. And there is a story of students at a seminary convinced that a woman had birthed a cabbage that I once heard — straight faced.

    Animism and sorcery are a big deal in west Africa, and I would imagine other places in the world. It has very real daily affects. I wouldn’t blame the superstition or religious belief, though… Jungle justice and the mob mentality is more the problem — not belief in sorcery. Steal a cell phone and the mob could be just as likely to burn you.

    1. Jungle justice and the mob mentality is more the problem — not belief in sorcery. Steal a cell phone and the mob could be just as likely to burn you

      The mob mentality is the cause of the lynching but the religious beliefs are the cause for the accusation in the first place. They’re both equally dangerous ingredients.

  6. This type of mob-inspired murder on the grounds of alleged witchcraft is much less rare than you’d think. Chiefly, in Africa.

    Then, there’s also the murders committed by “sorcerers” (or suppliers to same) who want to use witchcraft, by harvesting body parts of people with albinism, people who are still alive.

    This is not a sane world we live in.

    1. “These people.”
      Ah. Them and us.
      Makes it so much easier to believe ‘it couldn’t happen here’.

  7. This was a very tragic incident in PNG, however it irks me about the comments where people are making about “ignorance and stupidity”. People believe in sorcery because they have not had the privilege of  learning “other explanations” for the events in their lives. For example, If YOU had never been taught how illnesses are caused by bacteria and viruses (which for all intents and purposes are “invisible” to us), how would you be able to explain people becoming sick?I have been lucky to have the opportunity to travel around PNG, one of the most amazing and culturally rich countries in the world. People in PNG are incredibly resourceful, although in much of the country people live not much differently than hundreds, even thousand of years ago, in and as part of nature, without modern inventions such as electricity, never mind ether media or internet access. Many don’t have a way of knowing or explaining events by other means than “sorcery”. For example, I once visited a village where all the babies had died for years. The villagers had come to believe that their women were cursed and the women were sent away from teh cillage to give birth “in the bush” to try keep the bad mojo away from the village. Giving birth of course involves blood which attracts mosquitoes. The newborn babies all got malaria, but for the villagers there was absolutely no way to know that mosquitoes had anything to do with the babies dying. Then one year a young missionary couple  came to the village and brought mosquito nets and explained the connection between the mossies and the deaths. The villagers were willing to accept this connection and newborns stated to survive. We met both the first survining “mozzie-net baby” (now a young man) and also the missionary couple, who had left the village years ago but happened to come back to visit the village. At this point they had given up their Christian religion, and turned their life mission into documenting the culture and language of this fashnating area. So… unless you personally made scientific discoveries, saying that people are “stupid and ignorant” because they dont know what you have had the privilege to learn something in school from someone else (like you did) just shows your own ignorance of the world. Yes, the events that happened are sad and tragic, but you have to put them in a cultural context. We are all trying to make sense of this world, but our frameworks of reference and our availability to knowledge and materials are often very different.

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