Spent a few days … not near enough … with legendary News Ltd journo Cindy Wockner in Goroka in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea working on a story for News360 on victims of sorcery.
Variously named as ‘Sanguma’, ‘Poison’ and other local monikers … sorcery related violence has exploded in PNG in recent years. There is little evidence that the phenomena has a long history. It appears that the crimes are opportunistic using vicious attacks and, indeed, murder … and an accusation of sorcery is a convenient weapon against the vulnerable. Once the victim is tainted with a sorcery accusation the stigma generally lasts for life. Families of those accused also suffer the consequences.
We spoke to and photographed more than a dozen, girls and women, boys and men, who had experienced attacks at the hands of sorcery accusers … but none were as graphic and heart rending as the story we heard (through an interpreter) from sisters Dorcas Numbi Nunugi and Pita Ambane. They and Dorcas’s son Ari were accused of sorcery after a family member died. Dorcas was attacked with an axe and her arm almost severed. She received other axe wounds on her thigh and head. Then she was tortured with iron bars that had been heated in a fire leaving massive scars on her torso and legs.
Her sister suffered a fractured skull from an axe blow to the head and other injuries … but somehow they escaped alive.
Many don’t … their bodies thrown in the river or any convenient hole.
Needless to say, Cindy’s story is compelling reading … but not easy to find … the link is here … www.couriermail.com.au/news/world/evil-sorcery-and-witchcraft-killings-exposed-in-papua-new-guinea-as-victims-flee-villages/news-story/3d7153f581a3f0a7b5ca63bc8a99ead0 … but as it’s ‘Premium’ content it may be inaccessible behind the paywall (alternatively subscribe to the Courier, read, see the pics and watch the accompanying video on your iPad or other device 🙂 )
However … you CAN read Cindy’s story … “Evil Sorcery and Witchcraft Killings Exposed in Papua New Guinea as Victims Flee Villages” … here below.
I’ve also posted (below) … just a few of the images I made whilst covering the story … and have concentrated here on those of Dorcas and her sister Pita recovering from their attacks in a ‘safe house’ in Goroka. I will eventually post a full pic essay on “Victims of Sorcery”.
Images © Brian Cassey