‘My Mum Is Not A Witch’
Mr Stephen Kwame Ofosu Yeboah, a 48-year-old son of the woman who was burnt alive at Tema Community One last week, has discounted claims that the deceased was a witch.
The deceased, who left behind two other children — Madam Ama Foa, 53, a trader, and 40-year-old Kwesi Ayiah, a dock worker — died from severe burns at the Tema General Hospital 24 hours after being sent there.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Yeboah said he was informed by his cousin, Mr Kofi Saman, with whom the deceased lived in her village, that she had left the village on the dawn of the day of the incident for Tema in her attempt to visit him (Yeboah) at Ashaiman (near Tema).
Madam Ama Ahima, now deceased, according to family members, had made her travel arrangements known the previous day when the entire family was about to retire to bed.
According to Mr Yeboah, his cousin said he had tried to convince her to rescind her decision, as her son had relocated from Nungua to Ashaiman and she might not be able to trace him at his new place of abode.
Mr Yeboah said family members at the village had woken up the following day to find the deceased’s bedroom empty, and after failing to locate her in the village, the said cousin alerted him.
“I then went to Kaneshie and waited at the Ajumako Station in an attempt to meet her and bring her home, but I was unsuccessful,” Mr Yeboah stated.
“Our mother was never a witch and had never suffered any mental disorder throughout her entire life, apart from exhibiting signs of forgetfulness and other symptoms of old age,” he stated.
Meanwhile, some residents of Site 7 (Community One) where the incident occurred have appealed to state prosecutors to ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crime faced the full rigours of the law.
They said that would serve as a deterrent to people who were quick to mete out mob justice on crime suspects.
Madam Ama Hemmah (sic), a native of Ajumako Assasan in the Central Region, was allegedly detained and tortured for four hours by six people in an attempt to extract confessions of being a witch from her.
The suspects, Samuel Ghunney, 50, a photographer, and Emelia Opoku, 37, a trader, with the help of Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, an evangelist; Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, a teacher; Hannah Sagoe and Mary Sagoe, 52, were said to have drenched the deceased in kerosene before setting her ablaze.
The suspects, however, denied the offence when they appeared before the Tema Magistrate’s Court.
In a related development, a resident of Community One has told the Daily Graphic that she had seen Madam Hemmah begging for alms in the neighbourhood on the day of the incident.
According to Madam Jayne Quartey, aged 76, Madam Ahima (sic) approached her in front of her house, where she sells bread, and told her (Madam Quartey) that she (Madam Ahima) had come to town to visit her children but lost her way after falling asleep in a Tema-bound vehicle and that she had later got down at the Community One main station.
She said Madam Ahima who had in her hand a black leather handbag, had sought her assistance for food, water, as well as an amount of money, to enable her to go back to her village.
According to Madam Quartey, she had offered only a piece of bread to Madam Ahima, as there was no money on her to assist the old woman.
“If I knew that such a fate would befall her, I would not have allowed her to leave my premises,” Madam Quartey stated.
CAMERON’S COMMENT: The more I read about this story, the more it illustrates for me, the callous state into which Ghana has descended. An old woman loses her way — the first person from whom she seeks assistance gives her a piece of bread and sends her on her way. AFTER the old woman has told her that she has “lost her way!” What about taking her to the police, or back to the lorry station so that the driver who brought her might take her back to her village? Now, she says that “If I had known, I would not have allowed her to leave my presence!” If she had known! What sdo the signs on the lorries say? “Had I known is always at last!”
Why did the driver just ‘drop’ her anywhere, when she had fallen asleep in his vehicle and missed her stop? In times past, she would have taken a lorry that plied the area and so had a driver who would care about his passengers. And certainly,he would have tried to find out whether she knew where she was being dropped, and would be able to find her way to where she was going!
Everyone was busy, busy, busy, doing their own thing: the bread-seller continued to sell her bread; the driver went on his business; and when the lost old lady entered a strange house, the first thing that came into the minds of the people who saw her was not that she might have come there by mistake, but that she was a witch. In times past, a person “found wandering” wouldn’t be harmed but would be offered hospitality. Ghana our country, praised by strangers for its hospitality, has now turned into this incredibly stupid, uncaring country, where the first things people do is to fear or suspect strangers — however harmless they might look. This episode should open every Ghanaian’s eyes to where we’re “at”, having destroyed the culture of our beautiful country. Politicians are busy abusing each other; FM radio stations only care about broadcasting the silly jibes of wannabee propagandists; and everyone else thinks about money, money, money. How can they take care of the lost and the needy? Who cares, anyway?
THE DAILY GRAPHIC
28th November 2010 12:28:24 by Rose Hayford Darko
Human Burning Case In Court
Two of the suspects involved in the burning of an old woman to death at Site 7 in Tema have been remanded in police custody by the Tema TDC Magistrate’s Court.
They are Samuel Ghunney, a photographer based at Dawhenya, and Emelia Opoku, a Tema-based trader.
The court, presided over by Justice Johana Yankson, however, granted bail to four others in the sum of GH¢5,000 each with one surety each. They are to reappear on December 2, 2010. They are Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, a pastor; Nancy Akrofi, a teacher; Mary Sagoe, a baby-sitter, and Hannah Sagoe, a trader.
Ama Ahima, who hailed from Ajumako Assasan in the Central Region, was allegedly burnt to death by the accused persons after accusing her of being a witch.
Presenting the facts of the case, Chief Inspector Charles Antwi said all the suspects, with the exception of Ghunney, lived in the same house at Site 7, Community One in Tema.
He said at about 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, November 20, 2010, the second suspect returned from town and met the deceased in the fourth suspect’s room.
He said the second suspect then questioned the deceased at length as to why she was in the fourth suspect’s room.
Chief Inspector Antwi said the second to sixth suspects also joined in the questioning of the deceased as to why she was in the room.
He said the suspects were not happy because they did not have any responses to their questions.
He said during the interrogation, Ghunney also appeared in the house to visit his friend, Fletcher Sagoe.
He said on hearing about what was happening, Ghunney requested for kerosene and a box of matches, which were supplied by Fletcher Sagoe.
The Chief Inspector said Ghunney then poured the kerosene on the deceased and set her ablaze.
He said Ghunney became alarmed when the deceased continued to burn and asked for water to put out the fire on her body.
Chief Inspector Antwi said a neighbour named Deborah Pearl Adumuah assisted the deceased to lodge a complaint with the police, after which she was rushed to the Tema General Hospital, where she was admitted to the Accident Ward but she died on November 22, 2010.
CAMERON’S COMMENT: One of the frustrating things about newspaper reports of court cases in Ghana is the inability of the journalists to provide accurate reports. In the earlier story, the name of the burnt old woman was given as “Ama Hemma.”Now, we read that she was called “Ama Hima”.
But even worse, we don’t get any reasons why the magistrate remanded only two of the accused persons in jeopardy and granted bail to the others.
A third cause of frustration is that as sure as hell, the papers would have begun to lose interest in the story by the time a second appearance is made by the accused persons. The constant adjournments which are characteristic of cases in Ghana will ensure that this barbaric act fades from the public memory. I shall do my best, however, to ensure that that does not happen.