A couple have been found guilty of murdering a teenager they had
accused of using witchcraft.
BBC reports that Eric Bikubi, 28, and Magalie Bamu, aged 29, from Newham, east London, had denied killing Bamu’s 15-year-old brother
Kristy drowned in a bath on Christmas Day in 2010, during torture to
produce exorcism, an Old Bailey jury heard.
Bikubi had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished
responsibility, but the prosecution rejected his plea.
The pair, who are both originally from the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC), were remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced on
Monday. Observers say DRC witchcraft related abuse in DRC could only
be compared to Nigeria where children are said to be tortured and
killed or buried alive without much official action part from strong
Kristy died in unimaginable circumstances at the hands of people who
he loved and trusted”
Kristy Bamu’s family
The family of the murdered teenager said they had “forgiven” his killers.
A family statement, read out in court by prosecutor Brian Altman QC,
said: “We will never forget, but to put our lives back into sync we
Magalie Bamu “stoked the fire” of Bikubi’s violence, the court heard
“We take no comfort in the verdicts – we have been robbed of a beloved
son, a daughter, a son-in-law.
“Kristy died in unimaginable circumstances at the hands of people who
he loved and trusted. People who we all loved and trusted.”
Judge David Paget, who was presiding over his last trial before
retiring, told the jury of seven women and five men the case was so
“harrowing” he was exempting them from jury service for the rest of
‘Begged to die’
“It is a case we will all remember,” he told them. “Court staff will
speak to you and offer help to you.”
During the trial, jurors heard Kristy was in such pain after three
days of attacks by Bikubi and Bamu, who used knives, sticks, metal
bars and a hammer and chisel, that he “begged to die”, before slipping
under the water.
Kristy had been killed while he and his siblings were visiting Bikubi
and Bamu for Christmas, the court was told.
Bikubi argued he was mentally ill, but the prosecution rejected his plea
During the stay, Bikubi turned on them, accusing them of bringing
“kindoki” – or witchcraft – into his home.
He then beat all three of them and forced other children to join in
with the attacks, the jury heard.
But it was Kristy who became the focus of the defendant’s attention,
the prosecution said.
Bamu and football coach Bikubi believed he had cast spells on another
child in the family, the Old Bailey heard.
Kristy had refused to admit to sorcery and witchcraft and his
punishments, in a “deliverance” ceremony, became more horrendous until
he admitted to being a sorcerer.
The defence had argued Bikubi was mentally ill when he carried out the
killing, with a scan of his brain showing lesions which “probably
contributed to an abnormal mental state”.
However, the prosecution had rejected this as a plea to reduce the
charge against him.
During her defence, Magalie Bamu told the jury Bikubi had forced her
to join in the attack on the children.
But the court heard there was ample evidence to show she hit Kristy
and “stoked the fire of violence” Bikubi had embarked on in the flat.
Outside court, chief crown prosecutor Jenny Hopkins said Bikubi “knew
exactly what he was doing”.
“His actions were nothing short of torture and he inflicted on the
victims violence on an unimaginable scale,” she said.
“It has also been proven that his accomplice – Magalie Bamu – acted of
her own accord.
“She willingly subjected her 15-year-old brother to extreme violence.”
Met Det Supt Terry Sharpe said: “Child abuse in any form, including
that based on a belief in witchcraft or spirit possession, is a
horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures,
communities and faith, and is never acceptable in any circumstances.”
Kristy’s family said they hoped comfort could be drawn from his death
through raising awareness “of the plight of children accused of
witchcraft or spirit possession and promote the need to safeguard
United Nation Human Right is currently investigating cases of
witchcraft killing in Congo Democratic Republic. In a letter signed by
the Associate Human Right Officer of the Civil and Political Rights
Section, Irina Tabirta, says UNHR is currently drafting a report based
on the 2009 mission of the right to life in DRC.
“The UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions is currently drafting
a follow-up report on the situation of the right to life in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), based on a past 2009 mission
report to the DRC of his predecessor.
Since the 2009 report mentioned also the phenomenon of witchcraft in
the DRC and cases when it resulted in deaths (deaths and threats to
death fall within this mandate), we are looking for an update on the
current situation of witchcraft killings in the DRC… “
The Force of Witchcraft Belief
The level of witchcraft abuses and killing in Africa is growing every
day. Very little effort has been made to address this ugly trend by
the government as people, mostly children and the aged continue to be
lynched after accusation by religious groups. Even organisation
working to rescue those accused of possessing demonic power or
witchcraft spell still believe that some of the accused could still be
guilty, except an organisation called the Child’s Right and
Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) founded by a certain Sam Ikpe Itauma in
Eket, Nigeria that strongly professes not believe in witchcraft.