BELIEF in witchcraft has no place in modern society, a Pietermaritzburg high court judge said yesterday in jailing three men for 20 years each for bludgeoning two women to death over "rumours"that they practised witchcraft. "A clear message must be sent to communities that this type of behaviour won't be tolerated. People who continue to believe in superstition and witchcraft run the risk of going to jail for a very long time," Judge Rishi Seegobin said in sentencing brothers Thulani (25) and Bongani Xulu (28), and a friend, Zakhele Nkosi (26), for the "cruel" murders of mother and daughter Alice Dlamini and Nkosikhona Xulu. The murders took place near Vryheid on August 15 this year. The women were attacked with a hammer, a stick with a bolt attached, and a spear by the three, who said in statements they had been afraid they were going to die within three days due to something allegedly said by the victims, as well as rumours the women were practising witchcraft. Seegobin said while this may have been their subjective belief, there was no tangible evidence that the women were in fact practising witchcraft. He said in his view the belief was often advanced as an excuse to justify a killing, and has no place in modern society.