Less than six weeks since the first case of the disease was confirmed in the country nearly 1,900 people have died and more than 84,000 been infected.
Prosecutor Kesner Numa said: “These people are accused of witchcraft related to cholera. It is really believed that witches are taking advantage of the cholera epidemic to kill.” Haiti is struggling to rebuild its infrastructure after the Jan 12 earthquake that killed 250,000 people and left more than one million homeless.
Up to half of the population is believed to practice the voodoo religion in some form, though many hold other religious beliefs at the same time.
Voodoo is deeply rooted in Haitian culture and sorcery and spiritual magic have been incorporated into some of the beliefs. Its priests are especially influential in rural areas.
Following the recent killings the national government in Port-au-Prince issued a statement trying to calm the population in Grand Anse.
It said: “Cholera is a microbe. The only way to protect one’s self against cholera is to observe the principles of hygiene. There is no cholera powder, nor cholera zombie, nor cholera spirit.” The government said voodoo priests “can neither treat cholera, nor make a powder that gives cholera.” Confusion over the outbreak, the first in Haiti for many decades, has also prompted attacks on cholera treatment centres.
The origins of the epidemic have not been identified but public health experts believe it matches a South Asian strain.
Much speculation has centred on UN peacekeepers from Nepal who were positioned at a base on the river where the outbreak began.
The suspicions caused riots against peacekeepers but tests carried out at the Nepalese camp proved negative.
Source: Telegraph UK