A defence witness for Issa Sesay (DIS), a 54-year-old birth attendant, has told the court how life was like for them during the war.
DIS-187, who was testifying in Mende, said when the war broke out she was forced to leave his home town and went to a camp in Boaudu and later to another camp in Ganzai which was run by the United Nations.
She added that she returned to a village called Manowai in the Kailahun District where they were addressed by the People’s Army who were not residing in Manowai but was there for awhile.
The witness added further that the commander for the People’s Army was called ‘People’s Son’. “They told us that we should return to our country as the war had ended. We agreed on one condition that they should provide us with salt and maggie which they agreed to do.”
Continuing she said, “I later went to Fundu Mawei and when I returned I found out that the People’s Army had gone and the town was occupied by the Kamajors. I was summoned by one Lanasana at the Court Barray where allegations were levied that I was a spy for the rebels. But I told them that I was not, but he ordered that my belongings be taken away from me. They took my ring, chain and Le3.9 million and then they told one of my friend’s husband to sign as my guarantor which he did.” The birth attendant revealed to the court that they were told by the Kamajors that they should go to Zo Bush where she stayed until she met a lady called Nancy whom she befriended.
Disclosing further the witness said when they were in Boaudu there was a school and her friend never paid fees for her child who was attending it.
On the issue of forced labour, the witness disclosed that farming was indeed going on.
“Most of these farms were owned by descendants of Boaudu and they even gave plots of land to strangers who worked there for themselves. There was also a community farm at Geahun where both soldiers and civilians worked,” the court was told.
Continuing the DIS-187 stated that, “as a birth attendant I was not allowed to work on the farm. But those who went to work on the farms were given food to eat. I learnt this because Nancy was the chief for the civilians and she liaised between the soldiers and civilians. When the civilians were ready to go to their farms they would stop at Nancy’s house to make arrangements whether salt or maggie was available. After their work at their farms the civilians would return happily as they would be singing and after harvest the women would receive their share of the rice.”