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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Police probe 2 mothers for torture

By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County

Police in Maryland County are interrogating two mothers, 46-year-old Marie Toe and Martha Williams, 36, for torturing their children and inflicting bodily harm on them.

The two mothers were arrested and incarcerated over the weekend for separately torturing a 2-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy in 4&1 communities respectively in Pleebo, electoral district#2.

Suspect Marie Toe, the grandmother of little Theresa Zabbeh, whose right leg got broken from torture, claims the act committed against the minor is the work of the devil, attributing it to anger and mistake.

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She narrates that the situation occurred in September after she received a complaint from a woman she identifies as her play mother.

Madam Toe continues that though she doesn’t know the current whereabouts of the child’s biological parents, she has received several complaints from community dwellers about Little Zabbeh’s alleged attitudes.

9-year-old boy being tortured

“This child that you see here, including these other children and I, just moved in this new house; so, [I asked] one woman whose house is also closer to mine to be my play mother”, she adds.

“So that early morning of September 2022, I left [her] and the other children with the woman and went to work at Cavalla Rubber Corporation but when I came from work, very tired and hungry, I thought to have visited other people, who owe my money”, she explains.

Madam Toe says while returning from making rounds with her debtors, angry, hungry and weak, she was greeted by complaints from her play mother.

According to her, the play mother informed her that little Zabbeh allegedly wasted toilet on the head of her (play mother’s) grandchild, something that she says got her angry.

“So, because of the anger following the woman’s explanation, that’s how the devil came in pushing me to beat my little grandchild, resulting in her right foot being broken”, Ma Marie further narrates.

“Although what I did was wrong, I want the government to forgive me; it was as a result of anger and the devil”, she pleads.

Madam Toe claims that when the incident occurred, she took the child to a bone specialist or herbalist to work on the girl’s leg but didn’t tell anyone because of fear until community residents saw the terrible condition of the child and reported the matter to the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberia National Police in the county.

She was subsequently arrested, while Martha Williams was also arrested in Zone One Community, Pleebo for what police termed “endangering the life of her child,” consistent with Section 16.4 of the Revised Penal Law of Liberia and subsequently charged with torture.

According to police charge sheet, Martha tied her nine-year-old son to a stick with rope from mosquito net, accusing the child of allegedly joining witchcraft activities.

She explained to police investigators that her actions were in reaction to her son’s confession of targeting to kill her demonically.

She claimed that her son had confessed twice both at home and at a prayer center that he has designated her (Madam Williams) as a sacrifice to his friends in the ‘dark world.’

Both mothers are currently incarcerated at the Pleebo Police Depot from where they are expected to be forwarded to court for trial.

Despite their days behind bars at the Pleebo police station, the suspects appealed for mercy, lamenting that it was the work of the devil.

The Women and Children Section of the Police is further probing the matter while the boy is receiving medication at a local health center in Pleebo.

The Gender Coordinator for Maryland, Mrs. Sayennoh Nathalie Whea, said though it’s good to train up a child, but not in such cruel manner.

Mrs. Whea said despite the Gender Ministry’s quick intervention, she is appealing to stakeholders and international partners to come to the aid of the two minors, while both mothers await prosecution in court to serve as deterrence. Editing by Jonathan Browne


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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