Over 500 people on Akhamb Island off South Malekula have reconciled to the ‘nasara’ of two men who died of hanging in double rare killings carried out by the community over claims of witchcraft in October of 2014.
The reconciliation ceremony took place yesterday. The ingredients presented in the reconciliation were a nagaria (sign of peace), live pig with full-circle tusks, five mats and Vt10,000.
Community spokesman, David Lesley, says the ceremony was in line with an order from Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek who heard the case.
In the latest development on Akhamb Island, he says the community has just experienced a spiritual transformation following a week of prayers by different churches.
He says the people’s spiritual transformation also gave rise to the reconciliation ceremony.
All persons who were arrested over the crime have all been released from jail except five men who were found guilty of direct involvement in the killings, to be freed after 15 years.
All the families of the deceased also witnessed the ceremony. Tears fell.
In 2014 the informal public execution of two Akhamb fathers was linked to a church group and chiefs from Akhamb.
Late Songi Samuel and Simion Bahvaus were reported to have been brutally tortured by piercing their finger tips with sharp objects and breaking their bones before they were hanged in their community hall by a mob.
A prayer group linked with one of Vanuatu’s biggest churches, accused the two men of “killing 35 people” on the island with sorcery.
And the chiefs on the island reportedly put their seal of approval on the “vision of the prayer group” that the 65-year-old man and another 54-year-old used witchcraft to murder the islanders.
Both men men were publicly lynched witnessed by women and children on an afternoon three years ago.
The horrific murder of the two men shocked Akhamb, because they said the last person to be be shot there was in 1960.