The BBC has found a woman in Angola who says she is the mother of “Child B”, the eight-year-old abused because she was believed to be a possessed witch.
Last week, Sita Kisanga, her brother Sebastian Pinto and Child B’s aunt were jailed on child cruelty charges.
During the trial in London, the jury was told the girl was an orphan.
But BBC Radio Four spoke to the woman claiming to be her mother in Angola’s capital, Luanda. She said the family could not afford to have Child B back.
When living with her unnamed aunt and Kisanga in Hackney, East London, Child B was beaten, cut with a knife and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes.
At one stage she was put in a laundry bag to be dumped in a canal – all because she was believed to be a witch possessed by an evil spirit called Kindoki.
Child B has been placed in foster care in the UK.
Radio Four Today programme reporter Angus Stickler travelled to Luanda to find her mother, as part of a wider investigation into belief systems being imported into Britain.
He said the BBC was put in touch with the girl’s family by the African community in London.
Using family photographs taken in London for verification, the woman in Luanda identified the child, saying it was her daughter.
“‘This is my daughter – she left two years ago for a better life in England,” she said.
The woman said that she wanted to resume contact with the child, but that the family were too poor to take her back.
She said she did believe children could be witches but not that her daughter was.
“No, she hasn’t go it, I know my child does not have Kindoki.”
The BBC has given the relevant authorities in Britain DNA samples from the woman, plus other additional background information.
The case of Child B has heightened concern that the belief in child possession is leading to the abuse of children within African communities in Britain.
It is a problem acknowledged by a recent report commissioned by the Metropolitan Police.
The belief in child possession is thought to have been a factor in the death of Victoria Climbie in 1999.
Concern has been raised about the growing number of African churches in Britain who also endorse the view that children can be possessed and offer deliverance services to cast out evil spirits.
You can see Angus Stickler’s full report on Newsnight on BBC2 at 2230 BST on Monday.