When the accusations were at their worst, 12-year-old Mardoche Yembi would wander the streets of Islington at night, afraid to go home.

His aunt believed he was a witch who flew about at night on a peanut shell giving her headaches. She even claimed he had killed his mother, who died in childbirth when he was young.

Police would find him sitting outside the petrol station on Caledonian Road and tell him to go back to a home where he was forced to eat alone.

Hackney Gazette: Mardoche Yembi is now 32 and with the help of a caring foster mother and therapy he got through his ordealMardoche Yembi is now 32 and with the help of a caring foster mother and therapy he got through his ordeal (Image: Sarah Ainslie)

He told no-one of his plight and it was only when his relatives sought a letter from his school to return him to the Democratic Republic of Congo - where his 'evil' could be exorcised - that social services stepped in and placed him in foster care.

"I was so happy to be taken into care," says Mardoche, now 32 and still living in Islington.

"I was so excited, I said 'I didn't know you could do that!"

Mardoche met local film maker Penny Woolcock through the Copenhagen Youth club and persuaded her to make a drama about his story.

Hackney Gazette: Mardoche with Jeriah who plays him in the film Kindoki Witch BoyMardoche with Jeriah who plays him in the film Kindoki Witch Boy (Image: Sarah Ainslie)

Shot in nine days on the streets of Islington, using both professional actors and locals - including Mardoche's foster mother and his childhood friend - Kindoki Witch Boy is designed to help police, teachers, social workers and youth workers spot signs of the belief that 'Kindoki' children are possessed by evil spirits.

It has led to children being beaten, starved, burnt, immersed in water, stabbed, tied up, and cut open. Some, such as 15-year-old Kristy Bamu in Newham, and eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in Haringey, died.

Woolcock is a multiple award-winning and twice BAFTA and GRAMMY-nominated filmmaker who lives near the youth club and is a patron of it.

"Mardoche was very keen to have a film made," she said.

Hackney Gazette: A still from Kindoki Witch Boy a film by Penny WoolcockA still from Kindoki Witch Boy a film by Penny Woolcock (Image: Sarah Ainslie)

"I was very moved by his story, it really touched my heart that he wanted to help other children who are experiencing the same thing.

"But it's a very sensitive topic. I felt as a white film maker was it appropriate for me to be telling this story? But he said 'I know you, and I trust you.' And not doing it because I am worried people will say horrible things would be very cowardly."

While it's a story that needed to be told, she says she wouldn't have done it if faith based abuse wasn't affecting other children.

"We know 2,000 cases a year in the UK are reported, and the real figure must be many times that because children don't speak out. It's a very taboo subject."

Hackney Gazette: Penny Woolcock filming on the streets of Islington with 12-year-old local actor Jeriah KibusiPenny Woolcock filming on the streets of Islington with 12-year-old local actor Jeriah Kibusi (Image: Sarah Ainslie)

Now a support worker for young care leavers, Mardoche explains: "There wasn't any story out there from someone who went through it and came out the other side. I wanted anyone going through it to see that you have support around you, and you can make it through.

"Start the conversation and hopefully the people in power can do something."

Woolcock believes accusations of witchcraft are a form of "scapegoating".

"People are poor and have problems, they want to blame someone for it and a child is vulnerable and an easy target."

She describes Mardoche as "an extraordinary person."

"Many people who are abused pass it on to others, but he wanted to help children who are suffering, as well as inform teachers, social workers and police, who are not aware of faith based abuse, not looking out for the signs, so children are going under the radar."

Mardoche's trauma began after he was sent from DRC to live with an aunt and uncle.

"It was difficult, I was only seven, I had to build a relationship with strangers, learn a new language and culture. Then my aunty was having terrible dreams and told the pastor who said 'there is a child in your house doing this.'

"It was only me and their own kid who was a baby, so I could see it coming towards me. We went to church to see the pastor. It was Sunday and I remember after the service he started asking questions about how I sleep and if I knew about Kindoki?

"I said I had seen it happen to other young people in Congo, and he said 'You have got it.' And I was thinking 'Oh My God! I have got it.'"

The Pastor would come over to pray with him, but Mardoche says he never believed he was possessed.

"I didn't believe it but I was being pushed away, and I couldn't challenge them, so I said to myself, 'I am going to tell them I did it' for them to like me. But they ended up pushing me more away, things got bad, and I started running away from home.

"What kept me going was my friends, the Youth club, and football on Thursdays. I would wait until that came, to get away from the situation at home, where no-one could judge me. It kept my hopes up."

Living in Finsbury Park with his foster mother Fatima, he was able to get therapy and return to his old school.

"She did her job very well, she really cared for me, that's where my confidence started. I still went to church, I still have my Christian faith and pray when I go to bed."

Woolcock found 12 year-old Jeriah Kibusi to play Mardoche in the film.

Hackney Gazette: Filming on the streets of IslingtonFilming on the streets of Islington (Image: Sarah Ainslie)

Of Congolese heritage, he attended the Young Actors Theatre in Barnsbury and is "a brilliant actor".

"I told his mum about the film, she's a social worker and said 'this is a big problem in our community, if you can persuade me it is not going to be traumatic, we could do it'.

"And he was amazing."

For Mardoche it was incredible to see his story on screen: "When I saw the final film I was 'wow'. He was pretty brave to do it, it's very taboo but he was really good."

For Woolcock, the film, which is dedicated to Victoria Climbie, has been "a labour of love," shot with an experienced crew, with everyone paid the same.

"Every word in it comes from Mardoche, or from social workers' notes, or people who were there. We sat together in my kitchen and went through it in great detail," she says.

Now a Kickstarter campaign is raising £8,000 to publicise the film "to get it out there where it does the job it is meant for - to get it in front of people who might make a difference."