Earlier this week a mother was burned alive in Papua New Guinea after residents of a town accused her of being a witch. Kepari Leniata, 20, was tortured and then killed in front of a group of people in the town of Mount Hagen.
She was stripped naked and had gasoline poured on her. She was then burned alive on a pile of trash by the family of a young boy who died earlier that same week. Leniata was accused of killing the boy using sorcery by the family.
Firefighters and police officers tried to save Leniata, but they were chased away from the scene by an overwhelming group of people. According to Agence France-Press, the woman admitted to killing the boy, who had been in the hospital with chest and stomach pains on Tuesday.
Police Chief Supt Kaiglo Ambane said that the people responsible for killing Leniata will be brought to justice, according to the BBC. The murder has been condemned by the United States Embassy and the high commissioner of Australia.
“No one commits such a despicable act in the society that all of us, including Kepari, belong to,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in a statement. “Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery. Violence against women because of this belief that sorcery kills. These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country. It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongs that they actually have nothing to do with.”
Ian Kemish, the High Commissioner of Australia, said the following in a statement on Thursday about the incident: “We join the US embassy and the PNG government in condemning this murder and join all reasonable Papua New Guineans in looking forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice.”
Police spokesman Domininc Kakas said, “It’s an ongoing problem and has been in the spotlight for some time now. We need an outlet or avenue to address sorcery allegations. People believe it’s something that exists, but it’s a crime. People will have to be arrested. It’s a crime.”