saintpaul12cimetieremarin-creditirt-emmanuelvirin.jpgSaint PaulSaint Paul© Emmanuel Virin
© Emmanuel Virin

Sitarane

An extraordinary excursion

Saint-Pierre cemetery

In 1909, poverty was leading to an increase in crime in Reunion. Petty thefts were occurring all over the island. Suspicious burglaries were aggravated by attacks on people. It didn’t take much before widespread panic had set in. There was mass hysteria, houses were double locked and investigations took on a mystical turn. But to no avail.

It was a night watchman who finally uncovered what was going on. By protecting his door with a small metal plate, he was able to scare off the thieves, who left all their equipment behind. Eventually, the police arrested three men: Saint-Ange, Sitarane and Fontaine. The network responsible for reselling the stolen goods was dismantled. During the trial, atrocious details of killings, macabre ceremonies and black masses were revealed. And from then on, the Sitarane ‘myth’ began to circulate. It was not uncommon for people to report having seeing him in two places at one – even while he was incarcerated.

Sitarane and Fontaine were executed in the public square. Strangely, the sorcerer was spared, and died in prison 20 years later.

Today, Sitarane’s tomb continues to attract interest. The tomb in the Saint Pierre cemetery is often visited and you can spot many offerings here.