SORCERY FEARS DARKEN VANUATU’S PORT VILA

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Three arrested in blood-drinking cult

By Jane Joshua PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 8, 2010) - A man is dead, three men are held in custody and Police and community leaders in one of Port Vila’s suburbs are on the look out for sorcerers who have allegedly preyed on people until a recent confession made by a 19-year-old young man that the claims are true.

As rain continued to pour ceaselessly the scheduled meeting over the contentious reports of a "blood drinking" cult entwined with sorcery in Manples was postponed yesterday.

The story of vampires is truly the story of the month in Vanuatu’s capital today; it is every where- on the buses, on the streets, in the nakamals, at work, church and at home and each version seemingly more horrifying than the next.

A senior Police investigator informed the DP that Police have remanded three people and the Police informant was released back home for protection measures.

Following the revelations of this young informant on break-ins in the Capital and ‘nakaemas’, Police have checked the households he said they raided. Police have already retrieved two-thirds of the stolen goods and after cross checking the goods were returned to their rightful owners, which the informant had correctly identified.

In addition Police have checked these houses for physical signs of forced entry for break-ins but there were none and that leaves no rational explanation of how these people entered the house and stole the goods.

According to Police investigators if they could establish the use of supernatural forces to enter locked premises then perhaps it could also be established that sorcerers use such forces to take the lives of others. But it is going to be very difficult to establish this and that is something many people know and are afraid of.

The Vanuatu legislation acknowledges sorcery exists, as the Penal Code [CAP 135] section 151 states: "No person shall practice witchcraft or sorcery with intent to cause harm or detriment to any other person."

A few cases of sorcery have made their way to the courts but only one has ever reached the Supreme Court. This is the case where seven men used black magic or sorcery to kill a young girl in Wala Rano, Malekula on December 1995 and were found guilty by the Supreme Court six years later on December 2001.

But the case was quashed and the men walked away free after an Appeal Court over threw the sentence on lack of physical evidence.

A community leader clarified that the meeting on Sunday was postponed so as to avoid any interference with police investigation because some suspects are held by Police and the case is ‘very sensitive.’

Meanwhile tension and fear is growing with residents around the area of Manples. Reports reaching the Post said two men have been assaulted on the belief that they have ‘posen’ and were part of this cult. The most recent was on Friday where a young man from Malekula was returning back from work and going home where he lived uphill in the Tamalas area.

He was stopped, his hands tied and dragged down and beaten up near the Kaweriki church compound.

Nakaemas, Sorcery, Black Magic, Posen or whatever name you may call it is unwanted but the reality is it plays a fundamental role in the Melanesian society.

In the days of great grandfathers and grandfathers of the present Vanuatu generations, chiefs use it as a measure of social control to maintain peace and order.

Along the way this element which many people believed is embedded in the cultural heritage, was exchanged and fell into the hands of some people who use it for other means than for the purpose it was designed to serve.

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