Family charged in exorcism case

There were angry scenes on Wednesday as nine people appeared in court charged with the death of a woman in a curse-lifting ceremony.

Twenty-two-year-old Janet Moses died at a Wainuiomata house two months ago following an all-night ceremony to lift a curse, or makutu.

When police arrived they found the house ankle deep in water used to “cleanse” the young mother, and neighbours reported sounds like a haka coming from the house.

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A 14-year-old girl was injured in the ceremony.

Six women and three men appeared in the Lower Hutt District Court on Wednesday afternoon. All were all members of Moses’ extended family.

One of the accused women and a fourth man were also charged with injuring the 14-year-old girl.

The accused stood quietly in the dock and one woman wept silently. But when it was time to leave court, family members trying to shield the accused and took exception when they found media waiting at the court’s side exit.

All nine people have been remanded on bail and have been granted interim name suppression until their next appearance on February 12.

The judge has ordered that none of the accused can take part in makutu-lifting ceremonies.

Police say it is rare for so many people to be jointly charged with manslaughter. However, the lawyer for the accused says they intend to fight the charges.

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