Girl, eight, 'tortured by family for being witch'

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The Independent Online

A ten-year-old girl has told a jury how three people she believed to be her mother, aunt and uncle said they would kill her for being a witch, before they cut her with a knife and hit her.

A ten-year-old girl has told a jury how three people she believed to be her mother, aunt and uncle said they would kill her for being a witch, before they cut her with a knife and hit her.

The Angolan girl, who came to live in Britain in 2003, was also allegedly beaten, starved, and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes after being accused of witchcraft.

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey via a video link the girl, who cannot be named, accused her carers in north London of subjecting her to regular beatings, often from a high-heeled shoe. An attempt to put her in a laundry bag and drown her in a river in north London was abandoned at the 11th hour in November 2003, the court was told. Sita Kisanga, 35, of Hackney, east London - who the girl called her "aunt" - and a 39-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons - who the alleged victim refers to as her "mum", but the Crown says was her real aunt - both deny conspiracy to murder and child cruelty charges.

Ms Kisanga's brother, Sebastian Pinto, 33, and his girlfriend, Kiwonde Kiese, 21, both of Stoke Newington, north London, deny aiding and abetting child cruelty between August 2002 and November 2003.

The jury was shown a video recording of a police interview with the girl. The girl also watched via a live video link. The girl, who was aged eight at the time of the alleged offences, said that on one occasion Ms Kisanga cornered her in the kitchen and told her: "Today you die." The girl said: "She told me to take my jumper and my vest off. She pulled a little knife and she did little marks. I was bleeding."

The girl told the court the people she knew as her "mum", her "aunt" (Ms Kisanga) and her "uncle" (Mr Pinto), gathered in a circle round her: "One kicked me, one slapped me and one pushed me. I asked myself, 'What have I done?'."

She said they were shouting at her when neighbours interrupted: "The neighbours said 'Why are you making so much noise, people have gone to bed. Why is a child crying?'".

They had told them no one was crying, they had "all been laughing".

The girl, who sat with a large teddy bear for the interview which took place in January, was asked about scars on her body. She said she had been hit on her back with a belt. She said there were days she was left without food all day if she had refused to wash dishes.

Earlier the girl was asked why Ms Kisanga had allegedly punched her in the eye. She said: "My auntie said that my mum and me have got witchcraft. I said if we had been involved in witchcraft we would have killed someone. That is why she wakes us up every night and tells us we are involved in witchcraft."

She said Ms Kisanga often used a black, high-heeled shoe to beat her on the head, adding: "She does not like me being in the room watching the TV a lot so she keeps it in her hand so she can throw it at me."

Asked if Ms Kisanga did anything else when she hit her, she said: "She dances in front of me. She laughs when she hits me. She says things to me like 'Oh, you have got it now'. She says if I tell anybody she hits me, she will take a knife and stab me." The trial continues.