The police in Salaga have arrested Latifah Bumaye in Kejewu Bator, a fishing community in the Savanah Region. She is believed to be one of three women seen in a clip, widely circulated this past week on social media, torturing a 90-year-old woman, Akua Denteh.
The suspect has since been escorted to Damongo.
Bumaye’s arrest brings to six the number of suspects in police custody in connection with the Akua Denteh case. They exclude the chief of Kafaba, Zackaria Yahaya, who is now out on bail.
Two days of torture
Speaking by phone from Salaga to the hosts of the Asaase Breakfast Show on Wednesday (29 July), Denteh’s eldest son, Mahama Salami, replayed the events leading up to his mother’s death on 23 July.
The build-up was spun out, spread over two days.
On the evening of the previous night, 22 July, a soothsayer’s party went to the house where his mother lived with her youngest daughter. They were investigating the source of a string of mishaps that the young people of Kafaba said had been afflicting their lives.
The soothsayer and her followers placed a “spiritual book” on Akua Denteh’s head and it identified her as a witch, Mahama told the Asaase Breakfast Show. She however refused to confess and her accusers eventually left her home.
During a spiritual exercise by Fatima in Kafaba the following day, many residents, including Akua Denteh, arrived at the scene to observe her. Akua Denteh was again identified as a witch and asked to confess.
She again refused to confess. On this occasion, she was force-fed a concoction and beaten severely. Part of the abuse appears in the clip on social media.
Two young men helped carry her to her house to seek safety but she passed away at home that same day.
Hit and whipped
In the viral clip, Bumaye, 32, is captured whipping the late Akua Denteh, while onlookers in Kafaba, in the East Gonja Municipality, chant and cheer. The deceased woman had been branded a “witch” by a self-styled soothsayer.
The soothsayer, known variously as Filin or Sirina Fatima, is also shown hitting the head of the victim with a flat object, believed to be a book which “proves” that a suspect is possessed by evil spirits.
In a report, the Salaga Divisional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Amos Yelisong, said the suspect, who has been on the run since Thursday 23 July, was arrested at a hideout at about 9.30pm on Thursday 30 July.
“The information was processed into intelligence and two police officers from the Salaga Division dispatched by the divisional commander and the district officer to Kejewu Bator, a fishing community under Abrumase Police Station, within the Salaga Division,” the report said.
The “two-man team” that arrested the suspect escorted her from Kejewu Bator through Yeji to the Salaga Divisional Command for investigation.
“The suspect is identified as the one who was torturing the deceased in the viral video which led to the death of the deceased,” Yelisong said.
According to some reports, the lynching of the old woman was one of the ramifications of the burning two weeks ago of a pavilion in the community used by local youth as a spot for socialising.
The youth then informed the chief, Zackaria Yahaya, of their intention to bring a priestess to the community to help identify the hoodlums responsible for the arson attacks.
The sources say that the chief objected. Nonetheless, the youth insisted on bringing the “priestess”, Sirina Fatima, from Yeji to Kafaba.