PNG chief justice accepts compensation for sorcery-related attack

Papua New Guinea’s chief justice has accepted compensation from leaders of a tribe that carried out a sorcery-related attack against him, say police.

Sir Salamo Injia’s convoy was attacked at a roadblock on Monday as he left his village in Enga province to return to Port Moresby.

Enga provincial police commander George Kakas said the attackers, armed with stones and machetes, were expecting reparation from Sir Salamo’s tribe after two of its members were accused of killing a man by sanguma, or sorcery.

“Because it was not paid they blocked the road when they saw the CJ and his entourage coming from the village,” said Mr Kakas.

“They stoned the vehicles and chopped with machetes and bush knives but luckily the CJ escaped unscathed,” he said.

“The driver was able to manoeuvre out of a tight spot in the nick of time and they escaped.”

Mr Kakas said about eight police in the convoy chose not to open fire on about 50 people blocking the road.

He said Sir Salamo’s tribe retaliated by burning the houses of some of the attackers, but police intervened before anyone was injured.

“Yesterday the tribe that attacked the CJ, they wanted to say sorry and they went to the CJ’s tribe to pay compensation,” said Mr Kakas.

“So they gave 10,000 kina and five pigs plus some food stuffs which the CJ accepted to bring peace,” he said.

“But we have demanded that his attackers surrender to police.”

Mr Kakas said the attack stemmed from the kidnapping, torture and mutilation of two women from Sir Salamo’s tribe who were accused of witchcraft.

Following the death of a man in December, the women had gone to the neighbouring village to pay their respects during the mourning period, he said.

They were accused of killing him through sanguma and were captured.

“I sent police who were able to save the two ladies but one of them is seriously injured,” said Mr Kakas.

“One of them had hot rods pushed into her private parts, the anus and the vagina, and then burnt all over.”

Police had also called for the Aluni tribe to give up about 30 men responsible for the women’s torture.

“The CJ also demanded that we get to the bottom of it, meaning that that person will have to be exhumed from the grave,” said Mr Kakas.

“We’ll do an autopsy to determine if he’s got missing body parts to substantiate the claim that those two lady’s from the CJ’s tribe were actually performing witchcraft or sorcery on that guy who died.”

The police commander was not sure if the Aluni would surrender those involved in either incident.

He said no arrests had yet been made and he did not have the manpower to search and identify those responsible in the remote jungle terrain.

Sanguma and accusations of black magic have become common in Enga even though they are not traditionally associated with the province, according to Mr Kakas.

“It’s a borrowed culture from other Highlands provinces through intermarriage,” he said.

“Because Enga has a volatile nature through tribalism and tribal fighting when this thing came in it changed the scene altogether.”

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