Kepari remembered

National, Normal

The National, Friday February 7th, 2014

 A CAMPAIGN to outlaw sorcery and eradicate it in traditional communities is gathering momentum on the first anniversary of the torture in public of a mother-of-three in Mt Hagen.

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the torture and burning alive in the capital of Western Highlands of Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother who was burnt to death after being suspected of sorcery. 

Philma Kelegai, the founder of the Leniata Legacy, said her death could have been avoided and the fear associated with sanguma (sorcery) as apart of PNG culture must be removed.

“Kepari Leniata was a victim of a fear that has been indoctrinated culturally,” Kelegai said. 

“This systematic form of abuse is not a force that can be controlled or regulated. It has been manipulated to suit individual and group agendas. 

“It has resulted in countless unnecessary injuries, exiles and deaths. The culprits of these heinous crimes have received next to no punishment and instead are celebrated for their part in the maiming and killing of others.” 

On February 6, 2013, Leniata was brutally tortured and burned alive in the middle of a busy street in Mt Hagen.

She was stripped naked, tortured and mutilated before her hands and feet were tied to planks and her body dumped over a pile of tires doused in kerosene, and set on fire.

Leniata was burned alive as people watched without anyone attempting to save her. By the time police arrived, her body was badly burned.