As the Truth Commission began its hearing in Jambur, two leaders of the village, Imam Omar Bojang and Dembo Mamu Bojang, explained what they suffered when they were arrested by so-call witch hunters in 2009. Dembo and Omar were given concoctions on claims that they are wizards who ought to be cured. But the two said their victimization was politically motivated.
In 2009, some so call witch doctors have invaded several communities in Kombo and Foni, accusing people of being witches and wizards.
The chief of the police at the time, Ensa Badgie, told the Truth Commission that the witch doctors were operating on the orders of the former President.
Accompanying them in their so call witch hunting was Major Solo Bojang, a member of Jammeh’s hit squad and Green Boys, a civilian vigilante group associated with former President.
One of the villages affected by this witch hunting is Jambur. On Monday, the Truth Commission took its session to the West Coast settlement.
Before the Commission’s eleven commissioners was the village’s chief Imam Omar Bojang. At the time of the witch hunting, Bojang was not the imam. He however leading the village congregational prayers some times.
His father was aging and could not lead the prayers at the mosque all the times, said Omar. However, when the witch doctors arrived in their community, he was arrested with 3 of his visiting guests. But also included in their perceived witches was his father, the chief imam of the village, Karamo Bojang
The 2009 witch hunting was perverse, according to the testimonies of the Truth Commission. In Jambur alone 62 people were reportedly taken away to be given concoctions at a compound in Kololi.
But Omar said they did not accuse him of being witch. They claimed he buried a juju at his bath room that is retarding the growth of Jambur and the villages’ young people.
“There, they called me and said I have made a juju and buried it in my bathroom that is retarding the growth of the community… I told them but how would I make a bad juju and put it where I take bath…,” explained Omar.
Bojang’s explanation did not make sense to them. They escorted him and 3 of his guests, two from Senegal and one from Kartong, to the village square.
“They asked us to sit on the ground at the ‘Bantaba’. After some moments, I saw them coming with my father and two of my father’s younger brothers,” said Omar.
At the Bantaba, as Omar recalled, nothing much happened. The witch doctors were drumming, and few distance away was a waiting bus that was to take them to a compound in Kololi. This was where they were given a concoction.
Unlike most victims who have testified before the Commission in relations to witch hunting, Omar could only recall anything beyond the time he drank the concoction. After that moment, he went unconscious.
He said his father would explain to him later that he had misbehaved.
With Omar at that compound was also Dembo Mamu Bojang. Dembo was also taken against his will and forced to drink a concoction.
“After drinking the concoction, I never felt well again,” said Dembo. “A lot of people died too.” According to Dembo, about 10 people died after drinking their concoction in their village.
Dembo is currently in his late 80s. The Truth Commission is on its second week in the hearing into the witch hunting. They have previously interviewed people from Makumbaya, another village affected by the witch hunting and from the police headquarters, an institution affected by the witch doctors.