Q&A – 22 November 2021

Law on witchcraft

Last week I arrested a witch at night at my homestead. She was found naked on top of the roof of my house with calabash, gazelle horn containing soot, a piece of black cloth and a wild animal tail. She confessed in front of people that she came to bewitch me and I reported the incident to the Police who came to take her to the Police Station. I am told that even Police and Courts are scared of witches and the witch can turn around them as well. What are your thoughts? Do we have laws to protect us from witchcraft and what does our law say?
HI, Morogoro

The Witchcraft Act [Cap 18 R.E 2002] which was enacted since colonial times addresses witchcraft. It is an offence under section 3(ii) of the Witchcraft Act to possess instruments of witchcraft. The witch you found in the roof of your house with calabash, wild animal tail, gazelle horn containing soot and a piece of black cloth are such instruments, and she may be charged with possession instruments of witchcraft if it is proved from the circumstances of the possession, and the oral confession she made after the arrest. Bewitching a person is also an offence under section 3(v) of the Witchcraft Act. The penalty of witchcraft varies depending on the intention of the witch. If the witch intended to cause harm, disease, death or misfortune to a person, family, community or animal or cause injury to the property belonging to another, she will be liable under section 5(1) of the Witchcraft Act to imprisonment for not less 7 years. However, if the witch was motiveless, the penalty is a fine of not less than TZS 100,000 or imprisonment for a term of not less 5 years.

Section 8 of the Witchcraft Act gives a District Commissioner power to order relocation of a person suspected to be a witch from one place to another within the district if the District Commissioner is satisfied that the presence of such suspected witch at a place she/he is residing is causing fear, annoyance or injury in the mind of a person or community in which she/he lives. The order of the District Commissioner to relocate a suspected witch to another place within the district can be varied, suspended or reversed by a Regional Commissioner or the President.

Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on your observation that the Courts and Police are also scared of witches. You will need to contact social scientists or other professionals to guide you on this. However, our brief online research discloses that a large number of Tanzanians believe in witchcraft

Female employee claims sixth term of paid maternity leave

We have a female employee who has worked for our Company for fifteen years. She has taken five terms of paid maternity leave during her consecutive period of employment with our Company and now she has submitted an application for sixth term of paid maternity leave. Is she still entitled to a paid maternity leave for this sixth term? Is the right to a paid maternity leave available to a female employee until she ceases to conceive?
GH, Dar

Your question has a straight forward answer. In view of section 33(8) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act, an employer is only obliged to grant an employee paid maternity leave for up to 4 terms. After the fourth term of birth during continuous service of employment with the same employer, the employer has the discretion to grant the employee paid or unpaid maternity leave. Hence an employee cannot demand a sixth term paid maternity leave as a right.

Suspect jumps Police bail

I bailed out a neighbour who was accused of wounding a person in the course of drinking alcohol in a bar.  A month after being admitted to Police bail he disappeared and he is nowhere to be found now. Police have given me two weeks to locate the suspect and produce him to the Police Station or else they will forfeit my bond or commit me to prison. Can you guide me on the procedure of forfeiting my Police bond and commission of a surety to prison where the suspect jumps Police bail?
PP, Dar

Jumping Police bail is an offence under section 69(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act. A suspect who jumps bail, if arrested, can be charged in Court with two offences: the original offence he committed and the offence of jumping Police bail. Where a suspect jumps Police bail and cannot be found, Police may make an application to the Court under section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Act against the surety for forfeiture of the bond he signed. Before issuing a forfeiture order the Court shall summon the surety to show cause, why the bond he signed should not be paid or forfeited. Where sufficient cause is not shown and the bond is not paid, the Court may proceed to recover the bond by issuing a warrant for attachment and sale of property belonging to the surety. However, if the bond is not paid and cannot be recovered by way of attachment and sale, the Court may order the surety to serve six months imprisonment. The Court may, at its discretion remit the portion of the penalty and enforce only part of it. Hence you are liable to the extent of the amount stated in the Police bond, which if you pay, you cannot be imprisoned. You cannot also be charged for the offence allegedly committed by your neighbour.