In 2009, Gambia’s former dictator Yahya Jammeh shocked the world by hiring a band of so-call witch doctors to torment innocent people accused of being witches.
One of the institutions that suffered Jammeh’s witch hunting was the Gambia Police Force. Before the Truth Commission on Monday, two police officers, Ken Mendy and Abdou Colley, detailed how the so call witch doctors raided the police headquarters and accused at least 6 officers of being witches.
“We were saddened. We were angry. But there was nothing we could do,” said Colley.
At the time of the witch hunting exercise, Ken Mendy was at the registrar’s office at the office of the Inspector General. The police was headed by Ensa Badgie at the time.
The officers recounted how five people with animals horns, mirrors and drums stormed the police headquarters, looking for witches.
The processes which took a lot of chanting, drumming and dancing, took the witch doctors to several office, beginning with the IG’s.
“I have found them at the IG’s office… One of them pointed a horn at me as I approached, but he later said I am not a witch,” said Mendy.
Mendy said the IG Badgie later asked him to follow them as they move from one office to another looking for perceived witches.
He was recording the names. By the time the bizarre exercise came to an end for the day, at least six names were on Mendy’s book. They were Mustapha Ceesay, Yahya Darboe, Fatou Gaye, Yusupha Saine, Kumba Jatta and Commissioner Pa Silver.
All the 6, the witch doctors claimed, were sick.
Meanwhile, the officers said following the identification of the 6, the IGP ordered them to go with a truck to an unidentified place where they were to be cured of their “sickness”.
Mustapha Ceesay and Yahya Darboe declined. Ceesay was demoted in his ranks, according to Mendy and Colley. They could not say if Darboe had any punishment for refusing the so-call cure.
However, both officers admit the event had changed the way people looked at these perceived witches since that day.
“It was the IG, aside from the witch hunters, who was leading the exercise…,” said Mendy. It is not clear to him though if Jammeh was the one who ordered the exercise. However, Mendy said the former ruler, by the nature of the exercise, would have been aware of it.
The Commission is currently investigating the witch hunting which affected several communities in Gambia. Unspecified number of people were captured, accused of being witches and forced to drink concoctions.
There were media reports that several people have died as a result of the witch hunting.