A while ago a YouTube video featuring a well-known Nigerian preacher, David Oyedepo, slapping a congregant and calling her a witch may have been dismissed as a one off incident. However un beknownst to many it actually seemed to highlight a silently growing trend plus the power of some church leaders. In the clip below a teenage girl kneels before the pastor, and after saying she is a “witch for Jesus” he calls her a “foul devil”, slapping her violently across the face while the congregation cheers. In a later video (see video at end of article) , he can be seen boasting “I slapped a witch here last year.”
Recently in the UK a very disturbing trial came to an end. “Child witches” and exorcism was shown not to be a problem out there but rather under reported and very present even in the UK. In particular this trial shed light on the events surrounding the life of a young boy called Kristy….
When 15-year-old Kristy Bamu left his parents in Paris on 16 December 2010, he was looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays with his siblings, visiting their sister and her boyfriend in London.
On Christmas Day he was found by paramedics in the bathroom of an east London high-rise flat. His body had been mutilated, some teeth were missing and he was covered in deep cuts and bruising. In the last four days of his life he had suffered acts of unspeakable savagery, doled out by a man he called “uncle” and one of his own sisters.
Why? Because Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu, then both 28, were convinced the boy was a witch, possessed by spirits who wanted to bring evil into their home, the Old Bailey heard. On Thursday they were convicted of murder. They had earlier admitted actual bodily harm against Kristy’s sister Kelly and a younger sister, who cannot be named.
The judge, Mr Justice Paget, exempted the jury from jury service for the rest of their lives because of the “strain” of the trial, adding it was a case “every one of us will remember”. He said: “It has been a most remarkable case and at times a very harrowing case.”
But is this a frequently occuring phenomenon? Well the Police apparently believe ritualised child abuse is an under-reported crime. In this particular case…
Kristy Bamu was subjected to many of these methods of torture. It began with a simple accident when Kristy, waking in an unfamiliar bed, wet his underpants. Bikubi, finding the underwear, accused the boy of being possessed by kindoki – the word for witchcraft in the Congolese Lingala language…
For the next four days, Kristy and two of his sisters – Kelly, 21, and an 11-year-old – were accused repeatedly of being witches. They were forced to fast and stay up all night chanting prayers. In horrific evidence, which reduced members of the jury to tears, the court heard that Bikubi soon fixated on Kristy. Over several days, he beat him around the body with a metal bar used for weights, shoving the end of it into his mouth and dislodging a tooth. The powerfully built football coach headbutted and hit the teenager, smashing bottles and then heavy floor tiles – bought to redecorate the flat – over his head. When paramedics arrived at the flat on Christmas Day and found the child drowned by the side of a bath, they found his blood all over the flat and an “armoury” of weapons that had been used to torture him.
It’s not uncommon for problems experienced by children – such as autism, epilepsy, dyslexia or even simple naughtiness to be qualified as evidence for demon possession and witchcraft by rogue pastors.
A social worker with more than 30 years’ experience with African communities in London said that many cases were “going under the radar” and blamed “rogue” pastors for the spread of branding and ritualised abuse. “It is spreading like bushfire because it is a source of income,” she said. “If you can charge £500 for an oil that is going to ‘cure’ a child of evil spirits, you are going to make money. Pastors can be very powerful people, and we have to educate the bad ones that there are other ways of making money than playing on people’s ignorance.”
Police believe Bikubi may have visited Nigerian preachers in north London but his local churches denied knowing him. However, much greater access to the internet and satellite channels meant the influence of preachers based in countries such as Nigeria, Angola and the DRC was increasingly pervasive, said Bikebi. “You have pastors online who tell people that they just need to send money and touch the table in front of them and the evil spirit will be banished and all their problems will be fixed,” he added.
It was heard that on the day Kristy Bamu died, his killer spoke to his father, accusing the boy of being a witch and threatening to kill him. When little Kristy came on the phone he spoke calmly, he didn’t cry. “Dad, come and get me, or otherwise Eric will kill me,” he said. The court heard that the father, Pierre Bamu, dismissed the boy’s fears because he could not imagine Bikubi causing any harm to the children, who had stayed with Bikubi before. A few hours later, Kristy was dead.
What a tragedy that a young life has been ended and snuffed out. This should not be allowed to happen in church or at homes in the name of the church, Jesus or even in the name of freedom of worship.
This is gross depravity.