Outrage over girl’s torture


THE six-year-old daughter of a woman burned alive in public four years ago over allegations of practising sorcery was recently subjected to the same cruel treatment, according to police.
It prompted calls by authorities including Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas for people to stop the cruel, outrageous and un-Christian behaviour targeting mostly women and children.
The child of Kepari Leniata, the Enga woman burned alive in Mt Hagen city in February 2013 over allegations that she was a sanguma (sorcerer), was tortured and burned at Sirunki in Enga two weeks ago.
Enga police commander acting Superintendent Epenes Nili told The National last night that the matter was not reported to police until last Wednesday, when they were tipped off that a badly-burned girl was at the Tukusanda aid post in Sirunki.
Enga-based Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz and the PNG Tribal Foundation managed to travel to Sirunki to rescue her.
She had been accused of sanguma and tortured by a group of men at Sirunki.
She is now in a safe location receiving medical attention.
A picture of her taken by the foundation showed wounds and burns sustained from bush knives which were heated before being applied to her body.
Police are yet to arrest the men who believe that sanguma is a hereditary practice passed from mother to daughter, and that they have an obligation to torture and kill the daughter to save everyone.
“She was tortured the week before last but the matter was not reported to police until last Wednesday when someone rang missionary Anton Lutz,” Nili said.
“Anton Lutz called me and told me that the daughter of Kepari Leniata had been captured and tortured.
“Her body was in a very bad way and she had been taken to Tukusanda aid post in Sirunki.
“Anton (Lutz) managed to get into the area, get her out of the aid post. She was taken to a safe location.”
The late Leniata was a young woman from Paiela in western Enga who was accused of having an alien creature inside her which was causing others to fall sick and die.
Leniata, who was afraid that they would kill her, left her village and went to live in Mt Hagen. When a young boy died at the Warakum settlement in Mt Hagen, a group of men assumed that it was Leniata who had caused his death.
They believed the gossip that she was a sanguma.
They stripped her naked, tortured her with a branding iron, bound her and set her on fire in the middle of Mt Hagen on Feb 6, 2013.
Some of the people who watched the public torture took pictures on their camera phones and shared them on social media. It caused widespread outrage in PNG and around the world where it made headlines.