‘Sorcery-related crime still high’


DESPITE harsh sentences being imposed for sorcery-related violence, it seems killings and injuries caused from suspicion of sorcery have not decreased, a national court judge in Lae says.
Justice Lawrence Kangwia said there seemed to be no deterrent effect from the sentences imposed.
“That is why sorcery-related killing should not be considered for suspended sentences or probation supervision because a belief in sorcery cannot be easily suppressed or avoided when a believer in sorcery is free,” Justice Kangwia said.
He made the remarks when sentencing a 24-year-old man to 18 years imprisonment on Sept 20 for murdering a woman after suspecting her of being a sorcerer.
Justice Kangwia said while the country was a Christian nation, churches had not been unable to curtail widespread belief in sorcery.
“The difficulty there is that churches cannot practically impose abstinence in the belief in sorcery,” he said.
“Churches, in my view, rely on goodwill of individual or group to dissuade from such belief.”
He said, therefore, belief in sorcery was not a defence nor was it a mitigating factor when it came to sentencing someone found guilty of committing murder because of belief in sorcery.
Appearing before the National Court in Bulolo, Morobe, Jesten Jessy from Haiomi village, Menyamya in Morobe was found guilty and sentenced after murdering a woman by hitting her face three times while she was asleep on July 23, 2020, back in the village.
The court heard that after killing the woman, Jessy directed three other men to bury her body.
Jessy’s relatives paid K3,000 as compensation and when asked by the court to give his last words before sentencing, Jessy said he was sorry for what he had done and asked for leniency and a second chance to continue his education.