Witchcraft or “kindoki” is a widespread belief in parts of central and western Africa.
But the extreme rituals that resulted in the death of Kristy Bamu in an east London flat in Christmas 2010 are a relatively new phenomenon.
People from all backgrounds and social classes see it as a normal extension of their spiritual life.
My father was very tough. I was being beaten from time to time so I had to finally admit that I had it (kindoki).
Lionel Paka Makola
It is quite routine for children across Africa to be accused of being witches and the phenomenon is particularly strong in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
It is illegal to accuse children of witchcraft in DRC but revivalist churches preaching the benefits of child exorcism have gained greater influence in the past decade.
In Kinshasa, local charities say high unemployment and unaffordable healthcare is driving more people to rely on these fringe churches for guidance and support.
In one of the capital city’s sprawling slums, 14-year-old Lionel Paka Makola told Sky News he was accused of witchcraft and how his own family turned on him.
Lionel, with his father Thomas
The quietly-spoken teenager explained how, one day last year, he took his father’s pen because he was going to school and had nothing else to write with.
Unfortunately, it coincided with his father Thomas being rejected for a new job.
Lionel explained how his father became very angry and went to a pastor for advice and guidance.
The pastor said it was clear this respectful and intelligent young boy was actually a witch – Lionel’s actions were judged to be the reason why his father missed out on the job.
Lionel then explained how his father started beating him at the family home that he shares with five brothers and sisters.
He told Sky News: “I didn’t have kindoki but they told me that I had it. I did not have the knowledge that I have now so I just accepted it.”
The beatings got worse as Lionel pleaded with his father that he was not a witch and had simply borrowed the pen.
“My father was very tough. I was being beaten from time to time so I had to finally admit that I had it.”
Debbie Ariyo OBE, campaigner
The beatings only stopped when Thomas threw his son out onto Kinshasa’s streets.
The terrified boy had to fend for himself among tens of thousands of other street children all trying to survive in some of the most dangerous and chaotic slums in the world.
After six months, a street charity found Lionel and began negotiations to reconcile him with his family.
His father Thomas admitted to Sky News he now regrets attacking his son. “It is not good to beat your son, it was not good to see my son weeping,” he said.
The 52-year-old qualified lawyer now realises he was conned by the pastors.
“The pastors work for money because our economy is not working. They are running after money, the pastors are wrong, false,” he said.