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'Witchcraft courts' settling disputes in traditional Congo

'Witchcraft courts' settling disputes in traditional Congo

Republic of the Congo

For the loss of his children, Julien Poaty, a litigant at Congo’s traditional court, accused his family and blames his woes on their use of sorcery and witchcraft.

Despite the existence of formal and legal courts in Africa, many communities still prefer to have ancient traditional courts to settle their disputes.

An exclusive interview conducted by Africanews reveals the intense beliefs held by members of the Mvoumvou community in Congo’s Pointe Noire region.

When someone is defending himself, I can know whether he's lying or telling the truth.

Here, the tribunal has been handling a minimum of fifty cases per week which mainly deals with settling family and communal disputes.

“I just lost my sixth child and for this, I have brought this case before the tribunal to decide whether its because of my family. Father Hyoyo deals very well with problems of witchcraftcy. He has already proven such cases in the past,” Julien Poaty said.

Jean Baptiste Hyoyo, leader of the Tribunal, is one of the most feared and respected person in this community. He has been leading the tribunal since 1982 which has earned him a reputation.

“The Mvoumvou Tribunal which I’ve had the honour to chair, only deals with traditional affairs, especially witchcraft issues. Those who come here are usually satisfied. The most important element is the heart and the brain. When someone is defending himself, I can know whether he’s lying or telling the truth,” he said.

Such traditional courts have become a norm to many who are from these communities. A number of countries recognize their presence as they are used to settle inter-community problems.

Their existence has not been affected despite westernization in many African countries.