Suspected bandits have invaded and burnt nine houses belonging to a Tarime resident, Julias Baro Chacha (43), killing animals and destroying a range of other properties.
The Guardian received reports yesterday saying a group of eight suspected criminals invaded Chacha’s compound in the Genkuru area, Tarime District, and set ablaze his houses, animals and other assets, reducing them to ash.
Tarime and Rorya Special Zone Police Commander, Justus Kamgisha, confirmed the incident in an exclusive interview with the paper, saying the incident occurred on June 18.
“…apart from the houses, property such as beds, mattresses, clothes and even the domestic animals like chicken and goats, were also destroyed,’ the police commander revealed, adding that family members were forced to run for their lives.
The suspected arsonists escaped and their whereabouts remain unknown. There have been no arrests in connection with the crime. The Regional Police Commissioner (RPC) assured the public that ‘police were carrying out an intense and extensive search for the suspects.’
“At the moment, Chacha’s family is being accommodated by relatives, as police continue to investigate…” he gave the information while calling on wananchi to assist police with leads and tips that would bring about suspects’ apprehension.
There has been a rise in arson cases in the Tarime and Rorya districts. Both criminal intentions and superstition have been considered as factors behind the burn cases.
It is not known whether all these cases are related, but last week police managed to arrest three suspects in connection with the ‘criminal intent’ burnings. Those arrested were named as Chacha Mebaso, Ikumba Mebaso Chegena and Mgesi Waikami.
In May this year, in Sumbawanga District, Rukwa Region, a group of unknown people brutally killed two elderly persons and burnt more than 40 houses. The tragic and horrific incident is considered to be based on ‘superstitious’ motives and beliefs.
As villagers in Sumbawanga district, Rukwa region convened to mourn the death of a relative Festo Chambanenge (45) who had passed away following a period of long illness, they were attacked. It turned out to be yet another criminal-superstitious based tragedy. Rukwa Regional Police Commander Isuto Mantage confirmed the occurrence of the incident. Several families were terrorised and assaulted with what were identified as traditional weapons and then burned to death.
Commander Mantange named the deceased as two elderly individuals Erasto Chuo (60) Mzee Lupopo (70) of Miangalua village. There have been sporadic attacks on the elderly in the regions fueled by superstitious convictions.
Between 2005 and 2011, Tanzanians lynched an average of 500 people per year on suspicion of witchcraft, with most killings occurring in rural areas in the north of the country. Rural villagers driven by superstition have also murdered a great number of albinos in recent years due to a belief that making potions from their legs, hair, hands and blood can lead to great wealth, the BBC reported in a 2008 investigation.
Emmanuel Uchawi, a member of a Tanzanian organization working to protect the rights of the elderly in local communities, told the BBC that he believes education and development is the key to preventing witchcraft-related murders.