Thu, Sep

Barbarism at the highest - Kafaba on radar. Image credit - Insight GH

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Trial by ordeal is definitely not acceptable and the Kafaba perpetrators should not be left to go free.

It was extremely difficult watching to the end, the video of the 90-year-old woman of Kafaba, who was subjected to severe beatings because a trial by ordeal pronounced her a witch.

Unfortunately, Madam Akua Denteh, the 90-year-old, succumbed to extreme physical and mental abuse visited on her, fell unconscious and died, subsequently.

Her accusers, her own townsmen and women alleged that she was behind strange happenings in the area, including limiting progress of the town.

The severe beating was meted out by the womenfolk. They led the mob-injustice, severely lashed it out to another woman, frail, defenceless and old enough to pass for their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

But truth be told, these are some of the cruelties and barbarisms that exist in our modern day 21st century lower middle income society.

Yet, nobody seems to care enough and so when it happens, people have the effrontery to watch on and even run commentary.

Even where advocates have persistently brought such unfortunate cases of injustice to the rooftops to highlight for attention, they are dismissed by the authorities as inconsequential. No action and where lucky, very little action is taken and the case fizzles out.

Passive laws

The other reality of the matter is that the wicked brutalities do not see the light of day because there are no recordings or videos to make the stir on social media for people to press for justice. But perhaps, the most disturbing fact is that we have very good laws in the country to deal with such injustices, but they remain passive and are hardly applied.

So any wonder why lawlessness and impunities have swallowed our society to the core — do it when you feel like it, as it were.

It is painful that at a time when the world is aiming to achieve sustainable development by the year 2030, with a transformative agenda for equal rights, women empowerment and elimination of poverty with better living standards for all people, our country is still bedeviled with unproductive beliefs and practices.

These beliefs take us decades back, sometimes into the primitive age and deny people of their human rights.

Among some of the practices and rites which debase womanhood in certain parts of the country is the ostracising of old women from their communities by tagging them as witches.

These women are then locked up in witches’ camps and denied of their rights as human beings.

Akua Denteh was not ostracised but the community rejected her and tortured her to death.


A lot of activism by women’s groups including Zonta Clubs in Ghana, lawyers, parliamentarians and some women’s advocates over the years has led to some modest gains.

But those have been drops in the ocean and hence, the Zonta Club of Accra for example has actively advocated for zero violence against women and has gone a step further to invest in a shelter for battered women at Amanfro in the Greater Accra Region.

Events surrounding Madam Denteh’s mob-injustice and death, which has received many voices of condemnation high and low, is an awakening reminder for enforcement of the rights of women. There is still a tight rope around the maltreatment of old women in communities and this case in question is only a scratch on the surface.


The boundaries of lawlessness and impudence in the country have been overstretched.However, we need concrete action to be taken against the perpetrators of Madam Denteh’s death.

Thankfully, we are informed that the police command in the Northern Region has arrested at least five of those who committed the heinous crime.

One would like to see a swift move to justice in the case. The law should be applied strictly this time to serve as a deterrent.

The impudence of the day must stop with Madam Denteh’s death. The perpetrators need to be made to understand that we live in a civilised society and such barbaric behaviour would not be tolerated.

Major Maxwell Adam Mahama of blessed memory met his untimely death through mob-injustice at Denkyira Obuase three years ago and it seems like his death, though under a different circumstance, has served no deterrent.

Trial by ordeal is definitely not acceptable and the Kafaba perpetrators should not be left to go free.

We demand to see justice done for Madam Denteh’s soul to rest in peace. That could only be achieved when justice is done and her perpetrators made to taste the pain she suffered innocently and silently.

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