Malawi Humanists free woman imprisoned as “witch”
Yohane - freed after 'witch' imprisonment - with her family
When in 2009 ASH Executive Secretary George Thindwa saw the original report of the conviction of Bertha Yohane and her sentencing to four years imprisonment on charges of witchcraft he swore to himeself that he would work to have her released.
She is now released after successful appeal and back with her family as the photo taken at Thindwa’s home clearly shows.
Yohane expressed her gratitude:
“I had no idea that any people or organisation that did not know me personally could be so kind as to help me.”
Previous coverage from Malawi Humanists:
Yohane Belita has been released by the High Court in Zomba today, 17th March. She is on her way to Lilongwe from Zomba. She will be a visitor to ASH Executive Secretary George Thindwa’s home on Sunday. The appeal case had been dragging. ASH assisted by ensuring that the lawyer quickly deposited the documents of appeal and also paid travel costs for the son to be at the High Court in Zomba..
This is Yohane Belita’s story:
Belita was accused of teaching children witchcraft in November 2009. It is alleged that she was transforming them into pigs, chickens and ducks before taking them to a graveyard. Yohane denied the charge. Modetsa Petro and Alice Umali and their children are the ones that accused her of being a witch and practicing witchcraft. These ladies organized people to beat Belita Yohane. Well wishers took Yohane to Balaka Police.
Rather than helping her, the police charged her with pretending witchcraft. Her accusers who committed an offence in line with section 4 of Malawi’s Witchcraft Act were not prosecuted. Her accusers were instead used as state witnesses. The children and their mothers testified against her. At her trial, the Magistrate commented that her sister was also a witch. Clearly, Yohane could not get a fair hearing under the circumstance. She was found guilty and was convicted to 4 years imprisonment with effect from 25 November 2009. She was serving her sentence at Zomba Central Prison.