The lived experiences of elderly women accused of witchcraft in a rural community in South Africa
This study examines the experiences, fear of being killed, and reactions towards accusations of elderly women, accused of witchcraft. The respondents were elderly women with an average age of 65 years who had retired in rural South Africa. They responded to semi-structured interview questions, aimed at documenting the accusations and insults, hurled at them daily by members of community. Thematic analysis indicated the community’s hostile reaction towards the women. The following themes and corresponding sub-themes were established: demographics, cultural factors, with sub-themes of old age and circumstances, surrounding death; and socio-economic factors, with sub-themes of poverty, unemployment, and jealousy. Based on their personal experiences, the community did not have concrete evidence of their accusations, which stemmed from external factors, over which they had no control. These findings were explained as being the authorities not protecting victims against all accusations. These accusations of witchcraft happened despite the protection of the constitution, the bill of rights and relevant legislation. In conclusion the law enforcement agencies must enforce the law to protect the elderly women in the communities.
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