Masirending Bojang was over 80 years when she was captured in a village call Jambur, a settlement located some 52 minutes drive from Banjul.
On Wednesday, the Truth Commission had before it, for the first time, a witness who is over 90 years old. It is Masirending Bojang, currently the eldest alive in Jambur.
Masirending Bojang was over 80 years when she was captured by so-call witch doctors operating on the blessings of Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh.
In 2009, several hundred people were captured from various parts of the country and forced to drink a concoction. The Truth Commission is in its second week of hearings into the activities of the witch doctors.
So far, 18 people have testified. And on Wednesday in Jambur, the first village the Commission held its hearings since its establishment in January, people heard the sad story of an old woman who was humiliated and forced to drink a concoction.
The intense hit in the village and her poor health would not deter her.
The Commission’s tent under which she testified was about 100 meters from her compound. Masirending lives near the market and the village mosque.
As most witnesses recalled, that was the final stop of the bus that took them out of their village, supposedly, to be cured of an unestablished ailment.
“I was selling peanuts in the village when one man held my hand and asked me to get into a bus… I asked them where we were being taken but they did not respond,” she said. This was on January 28, 2009. With old age and ill-health, Masirending could only remember so much.
As she testified, by her sat Abdoulie Bojang, a private security consultant who is the old woman’s son. Abdoulie was not in the village when the so-call witch doctors invaded Jambur.
He however received a call from a relative informing him that his mother and other relatives were kidnapped.
That, for him, was a frustrating moment. Abdoulie was to endure that frustration until late evening the following day when he got news that his mother and others were released.
This was on a Thursday and on Friday, Abdoulie visited the village. From there he started recording the names of people who were taken. He got 62. However, after careful examination, he realized that out of his list, 49 were natives of Jambur, he said.
“My stomach pains until this moment… I cannot do anything,” said Masirending. The effects that concoction has on the old woman is consistent with the narrations of other victims.
Victims suffer excessive body ache, excessive headache, blurring vision and hypertension, among others.
Eighteen witnesses have so far testified before the Commission on the witch hunting. And fourteen of them were forced to drink the concoction. According to accounts, 18 victims have died in Jambur while others live with lasting health implications.
The commission completes its hearing in Jambur on Thursday. On November 25, the Commission goes to Foni, the region of former President Jammeh which, according to accounts, is the most affected region in the country.