A traditional healer and his family fled their home in Kong Pisey district in Kampong Speu province on Friday after villagers accused the man of sorcery and threatened to kill him.
Deputy district police chief Tuy Then said police saved the family after a few hundred villagers threatened to kill Prak Kong, 65, a traditional healer and fortune teller. The villagers had gathered around Kong’s house and tried to drag him outside, but police intervened and brought Kong and his eight family members to the police station, Then said.
Several locals had fallen ill and other villagers blamed their illness on witchcraft, he said.
“They could not eat because they drank a lot and got sick, and villagers are superstitious,” Then said. “Citizens believe too much in superstition, and they don’t care about health, they just drink.”
Kong began living part-time in Kong Pisey district after meeting his second wife 10 years ago, said Heng An, Kong’s 36-year-old step-daughter. Kong spends part of the year wandering the country peddling natural remedies. His first wife lives in Takeo province, she said.
According to An, the villagers accused her step-father of everything from causing poverty to death.
“The villagers say they are getting poorer because Ta Kong made them poor, and that he made people die,” An said. “Last month, two villagers died on the same day, one from a chronic illness and another from a stroke, and they blamed him. Then, on the hundred-day anniversary of their funeral, another person died of diabetes and he was blamed for that.”
An says she would like an NGO to intervene so she can return to her home without fear.
“Now they don’t allow us to live there, they threatened to kill us and burn down our house,” she said.
But Then confirmed that it would be impossible for Kong to return to the village.
“Now the situation is calm, but last night villagers went to destroy the spirit house in front of the family home,” Then said. “They also injured Kong’s nephew who was looking after the house.”