Children accused of witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK (2014)

Whereas the criminal practice of ritualistic murders is a revolting and sad one, another phenomenon also draws our attention.  Both phenomena relate to superstition. Of course I know that fearing witches or, rather, fearing persons who people believe are possessed by an evil spirit or are thought to be witches is a universal superstition that can be found on all continents of the globe. Moreover, I certainly do not want to stigmatize a particular group of people or race. However, the focus of this website being on ritualistic practices notably ritual murders in Africa, I cannot ignore the occurrence of ritualistic murders committed by Africans that take place outside the continent.
For this reason I drew attention to the high profile case of the torso of a small black boy (‘Adam’) that was found floating in the river Thames in 2001. It proved to be a case of ritualistic murder, very likely committed by persons originating from West Africa. Unfortunately, also reports exist of ritual practices – even killings – of persons of African descent in other European countries (more later on this site).

The inclusion of the cases reported below is justified by the same reason – though these cases do not represent ritual murders. The ’cause-in-common’ of these distinct but related crimes is: superstition. Whereas the battle against superstition should be fought with all strength and conviction that we have, the rule of law should be strictly applied to those who commit these heinous crimes, be it murdering or torturing innocent people, notably children. Their suffering in the hands of the perpetrators of these crimes should end as soon as possible. Each new case is a case too much.
(Webmaster FVDK).

Children accused of witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK (2014) 

Victoria Climbié (left) and Kristy Bamu (right), tortured to death by relatives
who were sentenced to life imprisonment (UK)

Published: October 16, 2014
By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG

London’s Metropolitan Police reports that cases of abuse where the child is accused of being a witch or possessed by an evil spirit are on the rise.

Thus far this year 27 allegations have been received — up from 24 in 2013.

There were 19 such cases reported in 2012, and 9 in 2011. Some 148 cases have been referred to the Metropolitan Police since 2004.

The rise in the number of reports is likely due to greater awareness among social workers, healthcare staff, teachers, pastors and others.

However, police believe many more cases are kept hidden in families and communities.

Parents, other guardians, and in several cases pastors and church members who believe a child is possessed often resort to physical abuse in order to try and get the spirits to leave.

New guidance has now been issued on how to spot children at risk of abuse linked to witchcraft.

On October 8, the Metropolitan Police Service and CCPAS,  the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, hosted a multi-agency event at London’s City Hall to raise awareness of child abuse linked to faith or belief.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Det Supt Terry Sharpe explained:

“Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths.

“A number of high-profile investigations brought the issue of ritual abuse and witchcraft into the headlines but it is important that professionals are clear about the signs to look for.

“Families or carers genuinely believe that the victim has been completely taken over by the devil or an evil spirit, which is often supported by someone who within the community has portrayed themselves as an authority on faith and belief.

“Regardless of the beliefs of the abusers, child abuse is child abuse. Our role is to safeguard children, not challenge beliefs. We investigate crimes against children, but our main aim is to prevent abuse in the first place. This is a hidden crime and we can only prevent it by working in partnership with the community. Project Violet aims to build trust with communities and emphasise that child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”

A training film aimed at all front-line professionals who work with children was launched at the event. The DVD, commissioned by our Project Violet team in conjunction with CCPAS, advises how to recognise the signs that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm from abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession.

According to CCPAS the training DVD will be made provided to Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) so they may make it available to social workers and other front line staff.

HIGH-PROFILE CASES

Victoria Climbié

High-profile cases include Victoria Climbié  (link added by the webmaster FVDK) whose great-aunt and her boyfriend — along with their pastor — believed the girl was demon-possessed.

Beaten, burned with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bathtub, the 8-year-old girl died in February, 2000 — with 128 injuries on her body.

In 2001 the headless, limbless body of a boy aged between five and six was found floating in the river Thames. Evidence strongly suggests the boy was sacrificed in a Muti ritual.
(See elsewhere on this site, ‘The unsolved case of the torso in the Thames’. The murder boy was ‘named ‘Adam’ by the investigators. Information added by the webmaster FVDK).

In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu was tortured for three days by his sister and his boyfriend after being accused of witchcraft, and was subsequently drowned in a bathtub during an exorcism ritual. 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

In 2005 a leaked police report revealed that children are being trafficked  into the country in order to be killed as human sacrifices:

A confidential report into the sacrifice and abuse of children at African churches describes how pastors are profiting from the trafficking of black boys into Britain.

Uncircumcised boys are being smuggled into the country for human sacrifice by fundamentalist sects whose members believe that their ritual killing will enhance spells.

TYPES OF WITCHCRAFT

Most reported cases involve what is known as “traditional witchcraft” as opposed to “contemporary witchcraft.”

  • Traditional Witchcraft, such as performed by shamans or witch doctors, is a magical practice — not a religion. However, it can have religious elements.
  • Contemporary Witchcraft is one of many types of neo-Paganism. It is religion within the broader context of occultism. 

MANY COUNTRIES

The problem of children who are accused of witchcraft is not limited to England. But after several high-profile cases there is a greater awareness — and official response — that highlights such cases.

Immigration also plays a role in the rise of reports — as many immigrants bring along various beliefs and superstitions. 

Many Christian churches in Africa are part of the problem as well — as traditional beliefs are mingled with Christian theology regarding demons and exorcism.

In 2009, the Associated Press reported

An increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files. 

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” 

Screen shot – the link to the source (below) gives acces to the video ‘Witch Child Documentary’

In 2010 UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s charity, said that accusing children of sorcery was a fairly new and growing trend in Africa, despite long-held traditional and mystic beliefs on the continent.

Where previously elderly women were accused, today the focus more often falls on young children, often some of the most vulnerable, such as orphans, disabled or poor.

Throughout Africa, the vast majority of children accused of witchcraft are not murdered but — if torture has not helped remove the evil spirits — are expelled from their homes and communities.

 Exploring Issues of Witchcraft and Spirit Possession in London’s African communities

Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of Possession and Witchcraft — Eleanor Stobart, Dept. of Education and Skills

Source: Children accused of Witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK

Related articles:

Rise in ‘witchcraft’ child abuse cases
Published: October 8, 2014
By: BBC
(extensive coverage of Victoria Climbié’s murder)

Rise in cases of ritual child abuse linked to witchcraft beliefs reported, say police 
“Threefold increase in allegations, say police, including two claims of rape and of children beaten ‘to drive out the devil’” 
Published: October 8, 2014
By: The Guardian
(with numerous articles on Kristy Namu’s murder)

Child abuse linked to witchcraft on the increase
“Met reveals it has investigated allegations of children having chilli rubbed into their eyes and being forced to drink noxious liquids in order to rid them of evil spirits.”
Published: October 8, 2014
By: Martin Evans, Crime correspondent, The Telegraph

Liberia: ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished (2015)

Nine cases of suspected ritualistic killing have been reported to the United Nations since 2012, but local media say there have been at least 10 related murders since this summer

Published: December 18, 2015 Updated 16:22 GMT
By: Reuters

Ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished in Liberia

DAKAR, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Liberia must tackle a widespread culture of impunity for perpetrators of ritual killings and trials of ordeal and put its human rights obligations before such traditional practices, the United Nations rights chief said on Friday.

Authorities are reluctant to investigate or prosecute such cases, fearful of a backlash from practitioners and politicians, while some state officials are even part of the secret societies that perform the practices, said a U.N. report.

Women, children, the elderly and the disabled are the main victims of harmful cultural practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and initiation into secret societies, it said.

“Criminal offences perpetrated through harmful traditional practices often go unpunished due to their perceived cultural dimensions,” said the joint report from the U.N. Mission in Liberia and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“This has generated a widespread culture of impunity among traditional actors,” it said.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month vowed to crack down on those responsible for a rise in ritual killings in the West African nation.

Nine cases of suspected ritualistic killing have been reported to the United Nations since 2012, but local media say there have been at least 10 related murders since this summer. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

They occur in some African nations due to a belief that body parts can work magic to obtain success or political power.

It is not yet clear why ritual killings are rising, but the report warned of an increase ahead of national elections in 2017, and some residents have speculated that presidential hopefuls are using black magic to boost their chances.

The report also documented the prevalence of FGM, widely performed by the women’s secret society Sande, and abductions, torture and gang-rapes carried out by the male society Poro.

Many women and children in Liberia are accused of witchcraft, and face “exorcism” rituals, trials by ordeal, expulsion or even death, according to the report.

The trials involve the accused being subjected to pain, such as poison or burning, to determine their innocence or guilt.

“Liberia’s human rights obligations must take precedence over any local practices considered to be ‘cultural’ or ‘traditional’ where such practices are incompatible with human rights,” said U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

Source: Ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished in Liberia – U.N.

Liberia is located at the west cost of Africa

Two jailed in Gabon over gruesome occult sacrifice

As I stated earlier on this site (see my August 16, 2018 post), Gabon has a very bad reputation as ritual murders is concerned. Unlike in many other African countries, in Gabon there exists a very active grassroots organization fighting these ritualistic murders and the impunity that shields perpetrators and those who command these atrocious, criminal acts, from justice. The organization is called the Association for Fighting Ritualistic Crimes (ALCR). Its president, Jean-Elvis Ebang Ondo, recently said that his organization estimates that at least 50 ritualistic crimes, in a population of less than two million, occur each year. This means that on average every week a person is ritually murdered in this West African country.  More on the good work of the ALCR in upcoming posts. 

This week a positive report emerged. Two men were found guilty of a ritualistic crime committed in 2012 and sentenced to jail. One murderer received a life sentence, while his accomplice was will have to spend 12 years in prison. However, the ALCR in its reaction said that “the people who sponsored the murder have still not been arrested.” Read everything on this case in the article reproduced below.

Two jailed in Gabon over gruesome occult sacrifice

Published: January 11, 2019 – 20:54 GMT 
Updated: January, 12 2019 – 17:44 GMT
By: Daily Mail Co UK / AFP

Two men have been arrested and jailed in Gabon for gunning down another man and slicing off his tongue, fingers and toes in a gruesome occult sacrifice

A court in Gabon has jailed two men accused of sacrificing a man and cutting out his organs for black magic rituals, press reports and campaigners said Friday.

Henry Bengone B’Evouna received a life sentence for gunning down Achille Obiang Ndong, while his accomplice, Gerard Mba Eyime, was jailed for 12 years for slicing off the victim’s tongue, fingers and toes, l’Union newspaper said.

The sentences were passed on Tuesday by an appeals court in Oyem in the north of the west African country.

Bengone B’Evouna had struck a deal “with a former local dignitary to provide human organs in exchange for the sum of 800,000 CFA francs,” about $1,400 or 1,200 euros, l’Union reported.

Both men admitted guilt for the crime committed in 2012, it said.

An advocacy group, the Association for Fighting Ritualistic Crimes (ALCR), which said it was providing support for the victim’s family, said “the people who sponsored” the murder “have still not been arrested.”

In Gabon and other parts of West Africa, organs are used as fetishes in magic rituals, “and often are taken from people while they are still alive,” said the organisation’s president, Jean-Elvis Ebang Ondo.

“Often, there is no prosecution for crimes of ritual killings,” he said.

“Behind them, there’s a whole network of sponsors — politicians and powerful businessmen, marabouts [witch doctors], people called ‘nganga’ who act as spotters and often are schoolchildren or close relatives, and those who carry out the killing.”

Dread of kidnapping for organ removal is common.

Ebang Ondo said his organisation estimated that at least 50 ritualistic crimes, in a population of less than two million, occurred each year.

Source: Two jailed in Gabon over gruesome occult sacrifice

Related article: Two jailed in Gabon over gruesome occult sacrifice
Source: Brinkwire, dated January 13, 2019

Previous ritual murders, attacks targeting albinos in Burundi

Burundi has an ugly past with respect to the safety of people living with albinism – like other countries in the region, e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Swaziland. I have counted more than 20 registered (!) attacks on albinos in Burundi since 2008, often deadly, but very likely the real number is much higher. Arrest of culprits and prosecution of accused are rare, possibly because of – according to rumors – the involvement of politically powerful people and rich businessmen and because some murderers commit their heinous crimes on command of principals in neighboring countries, notably Tanzania.

I have reproduced a number of these murders and other incidents. Burundi is a francophone country and many articles are in French. Therefore I have provided a summary in English of the French reports and articles. Unfortunately, a number of articles have disappeared from the web since 2008.

I have omitted ritualistic murders committed before 2008 in the overview presented below.

Ritual murder of albinos back again!
(In French)
Summary in English:
After one year of no murders, a 15-year old albino girl named Chantal has been found murdered in the Kabezi community, south of the capital Bujumbura, on May 6. Her death and mutilation brings the total number of reported cases since 2008 to over 20.
(…..)
According to the president of the organization ‘Albinos without borders’ (‘Albinos sans Frontières’) the killers slit the girl’s throat and dismembered her. A neighbor, Kassim Kazungu, affirms that Chantal is the 18th person murdered for ritual purposes in the community since 2008. The government of Burundi is blamed for doing nothing to protect its citizens and for being too passive after the escape from prison of a number of convicted ritual killers.
(….)

The original article, in French:

Le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Published: May 7, 2012
By: RFI

Au Burundi, après une année d’accalmie, un albinos a été tué dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche 6 mai dans la commune de Kabezi, au sud de Bujumbura. Chantal, une jeune fille albinos de 15 ans a été tuée par un groupe de criminels, puis affreusement mutilée. L‘association Albinos sans frontière, qui a déjà dénombré une vingtaine de crimes rituels d’albinos depuis 2008, condamne et met le gouvernement en face de « ses responsabilités ».

Ces tueurs, armés d’un fusil, de machettes et de lances, sont d’abord passés au domicile des parents de la jeune fille albinos, une dizaine de kilomètres au sud de Bujumbura. Ils ont obligé sa mère à les accompagner chez un de ses fils, où la jeune Chantal avait trouvé refuge.

Sous la menace, la mère a demandé à son fils de lui ouvrir, qui tout naturellement s’est exécuté. La suite est racontée par le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière, sur place hier matin. « Ils ont pris la fillette. Deux kilomètres après, ils ont égorgé la fillette, et ils ont décapité ses jambes et ses bras, on a trouvé la fillette jetée dans un fossé par ces malfaiteurs ».

Frustration, colère, désarroi. « Le choc est rude  », explique Kassim Kazungu après ce meurtre, le dix-huitième qui touche sa communauté en moins de quatre ans au Burundi, d’autant explique-t-il, que tous les assassins d’albinos, condamnés et regroupés dans la prison de Ruyigi dans l’est du Burundi, se sont évadés en 2011.

« Depuis 2008 au mois d’août jusqu’aujourd’hui, nous comptons dix-huit enfants albinos déjà massacrés. Nous pensons que l’Etat est impuissant, parce que s’il était puissant, à Ruyigi comme vous le savez, il y avait dix-huit personnes qui étaient condamnées, mais aujourd’hui il n’y a plus personne. Tous se sont évadés de la prison et nous, nous pensons que c’est eux-mêmes qui continuent ces massacres d’albinos. Nous demandons à l’Etat – où sont ces gens là qui avaient été condamnés à cause des massacres d’albinos ? »

Très gênées, plusieurs autorités burundaises contactées par RFI ont refusé de s’exprimer, en se réfugiant derrière le secret de l’instruction.

Source: Burundi : le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Then…. two years later:

Another ritual murder of an albino child in Burundi:
Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi

Albino children in parts of Africa are targeted by groups who believe their body parts bring luck (stock image)

Published: October 4, 2010
By: RFI Afrique / RFI

A 8-year old boy has been found dead and mutilated in the province of Ruyigi, near Tanzania. This brings the
total to eight murdered albinos and one still missing in the past four months.
(…)
Last May a 28-year old mother together with her 4-year oldd son were killed and mutilated for ritual purposes in the community of Cendajuru, also near the Tanzanian border.
(…)
SInce September 2008 14 albinos have been murdered in Burundi.
(…)

The original article:

Les albinos du Burundi sont sous le choc. Il y a un peu plus de 48 heures, un garçon albinos de 8 ans a été tué puis démembré, alors que les autorités pensaient avoir mis fin à ces crimes rituels qui avaient frappé jusqu’ici la province de Ruyigi, frontalière de la Tanzanie. Le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, Kassim Kazungu, exprime la terreur qui anime désormais les albinos et entend agir pour ne plus voir ce genre de crime.

Au Burundi, six albinos ont été tués et un septième porté disparu au cours des quatre derniers mois. Chacun des membres de cette communauté vit désormais dans la terreur d’être le prochain sur la liste. Aujourd’hui, des dizaines d’albinos ont fui leurs collines pour les villes où la sécurité est mieux assurée.

Selon Kassim Kazungu président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi  « il y a au moins 80 albinos qui sont déplacés de chez eux. Ils sont regroupés dans les chefs-lieux de communes et chefs-lieux de provinces».

Mais jusqu’ici, assure le président de l’association des Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, seules quelques associations leur viennent en aide alors que certains responsables administratifs menacent de chasser ces albinos. Kassim Kazungu affirme que « le gouvernement burundais ne fait rien, seulement des promesses et qu’il ne tient pas ».

Après ce nouvel assassinat d’un jeune albinos, un garçon de 8 ans tué à coups de machette puis amputé de ses bras et jambes, Kassim Kazungu ne décolère pas. Il appelle le pouvoir burundais à prendre exemple sur le voisin tanzanien où l’on est parvenu à mettre fin à ces assassinats rituels.

« En Tanzanie, le président lui-même a pris la situation en main. Les albinos de Tanzanie sont mieux traités, dit-il. Alors pourquoi pas chez nous ? Je demande alors au chef de l’Etat d’aider ces albinos. Si nous ne sommes pas les enfants de cette nation qu’on nous renvoie là d’où nous sommes venus ».

Huit personnes accusées au Burundi d’assassinats et tentatives d’assassinats d’albinos ont été condamnées à des peines allant de un an de prison à la perpétuité en juillet 2009.

L’ONG canadienne « Under the same sun » (Sous le même soleil) a dénoncé en mai dernier l’assassinat et la mutilation le 2 mai d’une mère de 28 ans et de son fils de 4 ans, tous deux albinos, dans la commune de Cendajuru, près de la frontière tanzanienne, portant à 14 le nombre d’albinos tués au Burundi depuis septembre 2008. Ces albinos auraient été victimes d’un trafic d’organes vers la Tanzanie voisine où certaines parties de leurs corps serviraient à confectionner des charmes qui apportent la richesse à leurs possesseurs.

De son côté, le chanteur Salif Keita préside l’Association solidarité pour l’insertion des albinos du Mali. La mission de cette structure est de chercher des solutions aux problèmes que rencontrent les albinos dans la société. Son action se fonde sur l’égalité des chances et la solidarité.

Les albinos souffrent d’une maladie génétique caractérisée par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Ils sont victimes de discriminations dans de nombreuses régions d’Afrique.

Source: Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi


Jail over Burundi albino killings
Published: July 23, 2009, 6:23 GMT
By: BBC News

One person has been sentenced to life in prison and eight others to jail in Burundi over the murder of albinos whose remains were sold for witchcraft.

Three other suspects were acquitted by the court in Ruyigi province over the the killings of at least 12 albinos.

The victims were mutilated and their body parts sold in neighbouring Tanzania for use in potions.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 have been killed in Tanzania.

In addition to the life sentence, those convicted were jailed for between one and 15 years.

The trial is believed to be the first linked to a spate of albino killings in East Africa since 2007.

Witchdoctors in the region claim potions made with albino body parts will bring those who use them luck in love, life and business.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Jail over Burundi albino killings


Regional parliament decries albino killings

Published: May 30, 2009
By: The Citizen, Tanzanian online newspaper

The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has decried the killing of albinos in the region and urged “tougher measures” to stop the ritual murders and protect albinos. (…) At the ongoing meeting of the regional parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, MPs from the five EAC member states called for regional cooperation to protect albinos victimised by superstitious fortune seekers.
(…)
The killings are rampant in some parts of Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
(…)
The legislators said while “considerable progress” had been made on human rights issues in the EA region, the current killings and hostility portrayed towards the albino community showed there was still a long way to go in achieving the full respect for human rights.

Source: Regional parliament decries albino killings
Unfortunately, the original article has disappeared from the web.


Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa

Published: March 20, 2009 (updated 12:23 am)
By: Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan

Eleven people accused of murdering 12 albinos in East Africa have gone on trial.

A recent spate of albino killings has seen at least 50 people across East Africa murdered and those on trial in Burundi are accused of killing 12 of them.

There is a widespread belief in the region that African albinos, who lack pigment in their skin and appear white, are cursed.

Some witchdoctors have encouraged the killings and police believe body parts are traded for use in witchcraft.

Human rights campaigners have accused police of failing to act on the murders.

Two hundred people connected to the trade in body parts have been arrested in Tanzania but no one has been convicted.

Source: Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa


Burundian albino murders denied
Published: May 19, 2009
By: BBC News


The trial has begun in Burundi of 11 defendants accused of attacking and killing 12 albino people, starting with the murder of a young girl.

It is thought to be the first trial linked to the recent spate of albino killings in East Africa, which has claimed more than 50 lives.

The 11 denied charged of murder and attempted murder.

Police believe albino body parts are smuggled out of Burundi and sold in Tanzania, to be used in witchcraft.

Magic potions

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to life in prison.

Witchdoctors in the region tell clients that potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 albinos have been killed in Tanzania.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Burundian albino murders denied


Burundi: Progress in the ‘albino cases’

Translated:

Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”

Published: March 15, 2009
By: ? (see: ‘Source’)

Huit personnes trouvées à leurs domiciles en possession d’ossements humains censés provenir d’albinos assassinés ont été arrêtés dans la province de Ruyigi, dans l’est du Burundi. Selon le parquet local, les personnes interpellées ont été dénoncées par deux autres suspects arrêtés ayant avoué avoir assassiné deux albinos.

Deux pays d’Afrique des Grands Lacs notamment – le Burundi et la Tanzanie voisine – connaissent ces derniers mois une vague de meurtres rituels d’albinos alimentée par un commerce macabre. Les organes d’individus souffrant d’albinisme – absence de pigments colorants de la peau – sont très recherchés des sorciers et autres fétichistes parce qu’ils sont censés porter chance en amour et en affaires notamment.

Source: Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”
Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.


Burundi arrests eight for albino killings

Published: March 15, 2009
Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana, editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura / Reuters

BUJUMBURA, March 15 (Reuters) – Burundi has arrested eight people found with human bones suspected of belonging to albinos, a government official said on Sunday.

The tiny east African nation and neighbouring Tanzania have been convulsed by a spate of ritual albino murders fuelled by a body parts trade. Witchdoctors tell clients that albino parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

“Before arresting them, we did a search and found human bones in their houses,” said Nicodeme Gahimbare, a public prosecutor in the eastern Ruyigi province.

“The eight were denounced by two other detained people who have already confessed to killing two albinos,” Gahimbare said.

Albinism is a condition that causes a lack of pigment in the eyes, skin or hair, which makes patients especially vulnerable to skin cancer and burns, and makes life particularly difficult in sun-drenched Africa.

Since last year, 11 albinos have been killed in Burundi. Forty others have been murdered in Tanzania since mid-2007.

Kazungu Kassim, the head of a Burundi albino association, said: “Authorities have now realised that the killing of albinos is a serious matter which needs concrete action.

“We urge the government to double efforts in protecting albinos, because what we are witnessing here is a planned extermination of the albino community.”

There are about 200 albinos in the nation of 8 million people.

Source: Burundi arrests eight for albino killings


Albino boy killed
Un garçon albinos tué

Stock image

This article is only available in French. It is preceeded by a short abridged version in English.

Bujumbura (AFP) – Another albino boy was murdered, this time in the Muruta community, in Kayanza Province (about 90 km north of the capital Bujumbura. “The people of the region found the body of a boy of eight or ten years old who was killed and whose legs and arms had been cut off. (….)”. On February 24, a six-year-old boy had been murdered and dismembered in the same Kayanza Province.

The recent killing brings the total number of ritual murders of albinos to nine in the past five moths.
(…)

Below the original French version:

Burundi: un garçon albinos tué

Published: March 9, 2009

Bujumbura (AFP) — Un garçon albinos a été tué et mutilé dans le nord du Burundi, dernier cas d’une série de meurtres rituels visant les albinos dans ce pays et en Tanzanie voisine, a-t-on appris lundi de source administrative. Ce nouveau meurtre a eu lieu dans la commune de Muruta, dans la province de Kayanza (environ 90 km au nord de la capitale Bujumbura).
“La population a découvert hier (dimanche) le corps d’un garçon albinos de huit à dix ans, qui a été tué et dont les bras et les jambes ont été coupés”, a rapporté à l’AFP Geneviève Ntawiha, administrateur de la commune de Muruta.

Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.

Another murder case:

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos
The hunt for albinos in Burundi

This article is only available in French.
It relates of the plight of the albinos in Burundi where since September 2008 five albinos have been murdered for ritual purposes.

Nicodème Gahimbare, in Ruyigi, in the east of the country, tells how seven bandits invaded the house, and while three of them threatened the family with their AK-47, four bandits dismembered the albinos of the family – alive – in a horrific scene. They started with the arms, then the legs, and finally the head.

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos / The hunt for albinos in Burundi

Stock image

Published: December 22, 2008
By: Pierre Lepidi – ENVOYÉ SPÉCIAL BUJUMBARA (Le Monde)

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, on les appelle “les enfants du soleil” : ils portent chance. Leurs corps sont recherchés par les sorciers. Cinq meurtres ont été commis depuis septembre, dans d’effroyables conditions

Cette nuit-là, les machettes étaient aiguisées. “Sept bandits ont fait irruption dans la maison, raconte Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de Ruyigi, province située à l’est du Burundi. Trois ont menacé la famille avec des kalachnikovs, pendant que les quatre autres découpaient l’albinos, qui était toujours vivant. Ils ont commencé par les bras puis ont tranché les jambes et enfin la tête. L’un d’entre eux recueillait le sang dans un bidon… Puis, ils sont repartis en laissant dans la pièce ce qui restait du corps.” Depuis septembre, les albinos du Burundi sont victimes d’une traque effroyable, sordide et insensée. Cinq meurtres, plus abominables les uns que les autres, ont déjà été commis. Hommes ou femmes, garçons ou fillettes, les albinos sont devenus bien malgré eux les cibles d’un marché fort lucratif.

On ne compte plus les légendes africaines qui entourent les albinos, victimes d’une maladie génétique qui se caractérise par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Mi-hommes, mi-dieux, selon les régions, leur “blancheur” pourrait apporter toutes sortes de pouvoirs, bénéfiques ou maléfiques. Au Cameroun, au Mali et dans d’autres pays du continent, on attribue à ces “enfants blancs” nés de parents noirs des forces surnaturelles. “Ici, dans la région des Grands Lacs, nous sommes considérés comme les enfants du soleil, de la chance, explique avec un air de dégoût Cassim Kazungu, président de l’Association des albinos du Burundi. Alors, certains sorciers, principalement originaires de Tanzanie, racontent que s’ils mélangent nos os et notre sang à certaines potions magiques, ils seront capables de confectionner des gris-gris pour obtenir de l’or, de la chance ou une éternelle jeunesse. On nous assassine pour des histoires de sorcellerie…”

C’est principalement sur les bords du lac Victoria que seraient nées ces légendes. Autour du plus grand lac africain, on raconte, par exemple, que verser du sang d’albinos sur une mine d’or pourrait suffire à faire jaillir des pépites, sans même avoir à creuser la terre. Chez les pêcheurs, on soutient que le fait d’appâter les eaux du lac avec un bras ou une jambe découpée sur un corps d’albinos permettrait d’attraper de gros poissons, le ventre gorgé d’or…

En attendant, c’est l’appât du gain qui nourrit ces massacres humains. “L’un des bandits qui a été arrêté après un meurtre a dit qu’on lui avait promis 1 million de franc burundais (650 euros), explique Cassim Kazungu. La peau des albinos vaut une fortune et nous sommes dans un pays où les gens ont faim… Il faudrait que le gouvernement prenne des mesures très sévères à l’encontre des tueurs.” Deux hommes ont déjà été condamnés à la peine capitale, mais celle-ci est en passe d’être abolie, ce qui accroît l’angoisse des albinos.

Sur les rives du lac Tanganyika, où l’espérance de vie est de 43 ans, où l’indice de développement humain (IDH) classe le pays à la 169e place mondiale (sur 177), la guerre civile, qui a opposé les ethnies hutu et tutsi entre 1993 et 2006, a fait près de 300 000 morts. La tension ethnique est aujourd’hui retombée et, jour après jour, la paix avance. Jeudi 4 décembre, un accord de cessez-le-feu, conclu avec tous les autres mouvements rebelles en 2006, a été signé entre le gouvernement et le FNL (Forces nationales de libération), le dernier groupe en activité. Mais les massacres ethniques ont laissé des séquelles psychologiques irréversibles, inquantifiables, et une économie en lambeaux. Le soir, dans certains quartiers de Bujumbura, la capitale, on raconte qu’il suffit de “10 000 francs “bou”” (6,50 euros) pour acheter la vie d’un homme…

C’est en Tanzanie, pays de 40 millions d’habitants qui borde le Burundi à l’est, que les premiers meurtres ont été commis. Depuis le début de l’année, il y en aurait déjà eu une trentaine, alimentant des réseaux dirigés par certains notables. Le Parlement européen a adopté, le 3 septembre, une résolution condamnant “vigoureusement” l’assassinat d’albinos dans ce pays.

Les autorités tanzaniennes ont pris des mesures de protection, comme l’instauration d’un recensement et la mise en place d’un service d’escorte pour les enfants se rendant à l’école. Le gouvernement a surtout annoncé que des sanctions très sévères, allant jusqu’à la peine de mort, seraient prises contre toute personne mêlée à ces crimes rituels. Quelques trafiquants et une cinquantaine de sorciers auraient été arrêtés dans la foulée.

L’apparition de cette traque sur le sol burundais pourrait résulter des mesures prises en Tanzanie. Les frontières sont poreuses, surtout lorsque les trafics génèrent des sommes colossales… “Le gouvernement tanzanien a agi rapidement en faisant du meurtre des albinos un crime puni de la peine capitale, a déclaré Olalekan Ajia, responsable de l’Unicef au Burundi, le 19 novembre. Du coup, les sorciers et autres charlatans sont partis pour le Burundi.” Le retour de 100 000 réfugiés burundais vivant dans des camps le long de la frontière tanzanienne est une autre hypothèse avancée.

Jusque-là épargné, le Burundi, qui recense près de 150 albinos sur une population de 8 millions d’habitants, déplore donc aujourd’hui 5 meurtres et un disparu. Début décembre, un homme en tenue militaire armé d’une machette a tenté une agression. Il a été arrêté par le père de l’albinos, qui a été sérieusement blessé lors de l’altercation. Roué de coups par les gens du village, l’agresseur est décédé le lendemain.

Les albinos du Burundi vivent la peur au ventre. “Je ne sors plus de chez moi car, même si la capitale est pour l’instant épargnée, je me sens en insécurité, lâche Pascal, 28 ans, un habitant de Bujumbura. Mais je suis bien obligé d’aller faire mes courses… Sur le trottoir, les gens disent en me regardant : “Regardez, le beau paquet d’argent qui déambule !” D’autres stoppent leur voiture à ma hauteur et me menacent : “Tu vaux l’équivalent de trois camionnettes, on va te vendre en morceaux…” Nous vivons un véritable cauchemar.” Quelques ruelles plus loin, Nathalie, 25 ans, n’est guère plus sereine. “La situation est très difficile et j’ai peur, dit-elle. Mais je suis surtout très inquiète pour ceux qui vivent à l’extérieur de la capitale.”Rien n’arrête les tueurs. Pour découper les membres d’une adolescente de 16 ans, tuée quelques jours plus tôt, certains sont allés jusqu’à déterrerdeux fois son cadavre…

Lorsque les premiers meurtres ont été commis, dans la région de Ruyigi, à mi-chemin entre Bujumbura et la frontière tanzanienne, Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de la province, a parcouru la région pour proposeraux albinos de les héberger chez lui. L’homme a pris des risques pour assurer leur protection. Il a payé de sa poche, aussi. “Il fallait vraiment faire quelque chose pour ces gens, dit-il. Les atrocités des attaques se propageaient à travers les villages, et ils vivaient de plus en plus dans l’angoisse… Dans une même famille, je me souviens qu’il y en avait quatre ! Plus loin, un curé a accepté que je lui en confie quelques-uns… Pendant une semaine, j’en ai hébergé huit. Très vite, on a atteint la vingtaine ! Il en arrivait presque tous les jours des villages alentour…”

Le gouvernement s’est alors penché sur leur sort. Les ONG, les pouvoirs publics et la communauté internationale se sont mobilisés. L’ambassade de France a été l’une des premières à réagir en envoyant des vivres et des matelas dans la maison. L’Union européenne a fait parvenir à Ruyigi des vêtements et des chapeaux pour protéger leur peau, sur laquelle se forment des croûtes après des expositions prolongées au soleil. “Ils vivaient dans des conditions d’hygiène déplorables, confie un Français qui a fait quelques visites à Ruyigi dans un but humanitaire. La maison, qui n’avait ni eau ni électricité, possédait seulement 3 chambres. J’y ai compté 34 albinos…”

Début décembre, une nouvelle demeure a été trouvée. Elle n’est toujours pas raccordée à l’eau et à l’électricité, mais elle est plus spacieuse puisqu’elle compte 10 chambres. On y trouve 39 “enfants du soleil”, âgés de 6 mois à 62 ans, auxquels il faut ajouter 6 accompagnateurs (parents, frères ou soeurs). Le loyer est pris en charge par le gouvernement et non plus par l’Association des albinos, “dont les comptes sont totalement vides”, indique le président.

L’Etat s’est engagé à prendre à sa charge les 8 policiers, contre 4 auparavant, qui assurent la sécurité de la maison. “On pensait que la situation durerait quelques mois, mais elle perdure, déplore Nicodème Gahimbare. Un jeune albinos est retourné dans son village, mais il s’est fait attaquer dans sa propre maison. Ceux qui sont sous notre protection ont tellement peur de rentrer qu’ils ne veulent plus repartir…”

Le gouvernement burundais, avec l’appui de la communauté internationale, vient de lancer plusieurs campagnes de sensibilisation à travers le pays. Mais s’il faudra du temps pour enseigner la tolérance, il en faudra encore plus pour faire taire les croyances. “Autrefois, on disait qu’un albinos qui naissait de parents noirs portait forcément malheur, car il était l’enfant d’une mère volage, lâche Cassim Kazungu. Il était rejeté et vivait comme un marginal, un laissé-pour-compte. Maintenant, on fait croire aux gens que nous portons chance. Alors, on nous massacre !”

Source: Au Burundi, la traque des albinos


6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts

Published: November 19, 2008
By: ? See below (‘Source’)

The following is an excerpt from the original 2008 article which has since disappeared from the web:

(…)
In Ruyigi province, Burundi, a 6-year-old girl, named Cizanye, was murdered in front of her family because she was an albino. A gang of armed bandits broke into the family home; they tied up the girl’s parents and shot the little girl in the head. They then cut off her head and both her arms and legs and left with the body parts. The attack took place at the family’s home in Bugongo, more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura. Police said they suspected criminals of hunting albinos to sell their organs and limbs to witch doctors in Tanzania who use them for lucky charms.

“This little girl is the third albino victim of such barbaric crimes in our province since September. We are doing everything we can to find the killers,” Ruyigi province prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare said.
(…)
In the meantime, officials in eastern Burundi said that 24 albinos have fled their villages and gone into towns for fear of slaughter. Msembo said many albino children were dropping out of school for fear of being kidnapped. Many albinos have sought refuge in urban centers, which are relatively safer. She said “They are cutting us up like chickens” while pointing to a picture on a wall in her cramped office of a limbless body with the skin on its face peeled off from an incident in 2007.

Source: 6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts 
(linked disappeared in cyberspace)

The following BBC article refers to the same incident:


Albino girl killed for body parts

Published: November 17, 2008
By: BBC News

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine.

Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions.

The girl, who was attacked on Sunday, was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September.

There have also been a number of attacks in neighbouring Tanzania.

The latest attack took place in Burundi’s eastern province of Ruyigi.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi said the child and her family had only just returned to their family home.

Armed attackers broke into the family home and tied up the girl’s parents before shooting her in the head, local officials say.

They had been among a group of about 50 people with albinism to have fled to a provincial centre because they feared for her safety.

The head of the Burundi Albinos’ Association, Kasim Kazungu, says people with albinism had not suffered any discrimination until other Burundians heard about the lucrative trade in albino body parts in neighbouring Tanzania.

Last week, police in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders.

Two mothers in western Tanzania were also attacked with machetes after gangs failed to find their albino children.

Source: Albino girl killed for body parts

Albino child killed and dismembered in Burundi

Published: February 20, 2016
By: Shehab Khan

A five-year-old albino girl has been killed and dismembered in Burundi, officials said.

The killing, which is the first reported murder of a person with albinism in Burundi in four years, has been linked to regional witchcraft, according to local officials

“Gunmen broke into the girl’s home around 1:00 in the morning Wednesday, they attacked her parents before taking her,” local administrator Marie-Claudine Hashazinka told AFP.

Neighbours of the family pursued the gunmen, only to discover the victim’s dismembered body, Sky reported.

More than 20 albino people have been killed in Burundi since 2008, with the last case being in 2012 (see my October 4, 2018 post above – Please note: bold & italics added by webmaster Fred VDK).

In some areas, a complete albino skeleton is worth as much as $75,000, according to the Red Cross.

The Government has banned witch doctors who claim to perform spells and charms using albino body parts to bring good luck and wealth.

An investigation has been opened into the kidnapping and killing.

Source: Albino child killed and dismembered in Burundi

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon (2013)

The two articles reproduced here date from 2013, hence the reported cases of ritual killing are no recent ones. Be that as it may, I believe they are authentic and the reported cases are genuine.
Late 2012 the population of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, was terrified after the disappearance of 18 young women and the subsequent discovery of their mutilated bodies. In September 2013, parliamentary elections were held in Cameroon. They were originally scheduled for July 2012, but were repeatedly postponed: February 2013, July 2013, and finally held on September 30, 2013, alongside local elections. It has never been proven that the wave of ritual killings in 2012 was linked to the planned elections, but observers of ritualistic murders in Africa point to the fact that often there is an increase in ritual killings during election campaigns. Also, as one of the articles states, ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s though more recently the number of ritualistic murders has decreased.

Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Published on January 23, 2013
By: Naij.com

A series of ritual killings of young women in the West African nation of Cameroon has caused panic in the capital city Yaoundé.

Families are now refusing to let their daughters go out after a spate of gruesome killings of young girls who were abducted by the drivers of motorcycle taxis before being murdered and dismembered.

Police have found 18 mutilated bodies on the streets of the capital in the past two weeks, five of them outside a nursery school, and all are believed to be linked to occult rituals.

In some parts of the country traditional healers believe that body parts including eyes, genitals, breasts and tongues have mystical powers, with many believing they bring riches and other good fortune.  Others believe that performing a human sacrifice will bring good luck.

Ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s but as education spread, the number of murders decreased.

Now families fear the practice is coming back, with the latest wave of killings causing near-hysteria in the capital city.

This week, the sister of a 17-year-old girl whose corpse was found on Friday outside a nursery school, minus the genitals, tongue, eyes, hair and breasts, wrote to Cameroon President Paul Biya demanding action to prevent further killings.

Deborah Ngoh Tonye Epouse Mvaebeme said her sister, Michele Mbala Mvogo, a student at the government bilingual High School Yaoundé was abducted three days before her body was found outside a nursery school. She accused the city’s commonly-used motorcycle taxi drivers of facilitating the murder, and said the government had failed to do enough to protect the victims, who were from the poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of Mimboman and Biteng.

One local said: ‘The moto-taxi drivers are the assassins’ accomplices, and their targets are girls aged 16-25 who get the taxis after nightfall.  For a large sum of money, these girls are delivered to men in the suburbs who do the rest.’

The head of a Mimboman nursery school told afrik.com how she found one of the bodies outside her school.

She said: ‘It was a strong smell of rotting that drew my attention, so I decided to do a tour of the school. ‘That’s how I found, behind one classroom, a body of a young girl in an advanced state of decomposition, with her underwear placed on her feet, before my very eyes.’

Families in the neighbourhood are said to be in a state of hysteria, banning their girls from taking motorbike taxis and keeping them indoors after dark.

Communication minister Tchiroma Bakary said: ‘Ritual sacrifices with a demoniac connotation are unacceptable and intolerable, and the government will do all it can to put a stop to it.’

Ngoh Tonye, whose sister was murdered, told CNN: ‘There is laxity in the forces in ensuring security in the capital.’

The bodies of the five most recent victims were identified yesterday, according to a State security official who said most of the victims were high school students aged 15-26.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killings but so far no charges have been brought.

The Cameroon capital, which has a population of just over two million, is in a state of distress with families staying behind locked doors as soon as darkness falls. Police warn pedestrians to walk in groups at all times and have cracked down on local bars frequented by criminals, shutting them down in the dozens. Vigilante groups of young men guard the streets at night and hunt for the killers, as the people of Yaoundé say the police are not doing enough to keep the city safe.

The new wave of gruesome killings in the capital has also seen dozens of complaints about mutilated corpses in the mortuaries of Yaoundé’s public hospitals, according to Health Minister André Mama Fouda.

Source:
Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

Related article:

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon, Increase Safety Measures

Published: 28th February 2013, 14:15 GMT+11
By: Global Press Institute – Nakinti Nofuru

BAMENDA, CAMEROON When Sarah Ewang, 41, heard about the homicide and dismemberment of 18 young women in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, she cried and prayed to God to give strength to the victims families.

Ewang, a jewelry trader in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, can understand the pain the girls endured during the moments before they were slain by alleged ritual killers. I came so close with ritual killers, she says. God delivered me from the hands of those evil men.

During 2005, Ewang traveled from Bamenda to Douala, the capital of the Littoral region, to buy jewelry to restock her shop. In Douala, she entered a taxi already occupied by two men, who appeared to be passengers. As they drove, another woman stopped the taxi. Moments after picking up the second woman, one of the men in the car pointed a gun at them and ordered them to keep quiet. I tried to shout, but one of the men slapped me very hard, Ewang says.

The taxi took a sharp turn off the main road and drove for more than an hour into an isolated forest. Eventually, the car stopped at a strange-looking hut, constructed of sticks, grass and old bags. I knew my life was coming to an end, Ewang says, and the next thing I thought of was my 3-months-old baby.

She says she cried out and received a second slap from the man carrying the gun, causing her to pass out. When she awoke, she discovered that they had removed her from the car. The driver and one of the men walked into the hut, but the man with the gun remained with them. She says they were ritual killers. They didnt request for anything from us, Ewang says, so they didnt look like armed robbers or thieves.

Finally, the two men emerged, along with four other men carrying cutlasses. Desperate, Ewang cried aloud in her local dialect, Bakossi. Oh my God, I will die and leave my 3-months-old daughter to who? she says she cried. Oh God, please come and help me.

Immediately after she spoke, the man with the gun walked up to her and looked her in her eyes but did not say a word, she says. He then led the other men back into the hut, where they remained for more than 45 minutes. Eventually, the man with the gun returned and asked her and the other woman to get into the car.

The men returned them to Douala and told them to walk away without causing any alarm. As they walked away, the man with the gun spoke. Go and look after your 3-months-old baby, she says that he told her in Bakossi. Extend my greetings to her. Tell her that her forest uncle sends his greetings. Your fluency in your dialect has saved your soul.

As soon as she heard the man speaking her dialect, Ewang stopped, fell to the ground and wept. She says he must have been from the same tribe as her in the Southwest region, where she is originally from. The men drove away, probably to look for the next victim, Ewang says.

Now, eight years later, news of recent killings in Yaoundé has brought fear to Ewangs home in Bamenda as she recalls her own experience.

It is an experience I will live to remember, she says, her voice breaking, and then bursts into tears. May God come to our rescue. Her youngest daughter, who was 3 months old at the time, is now 8. She uses her right hand to dry her mothers eyes. Mummy, dont cry, she says.

Since the discovery of nearly 20 young womens corpses in December and January, women in Bamenda say they will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of their daughters from ritual killers. Young women advise each other to not go out at night. Teachers report that lectures on safety tips for their pupils have intensified in their schools. Local police state that they are working to maintain peace and security for the population.

The dismembered corpses of 18 young women were discovered in Yaoundé, some hidden in bushes and one discovered by a headmistress in a primary school classroom, says Mark, a member of the Rapid Intervention Battalion in Bamenda, who declined to publish his last name for reasons of job security. The battalion is a special branch of the police force in Cameroon tasked with responding to emergency situations.

News reports also reached Bamenda that vital parts of the corpses were missing, including the womens breasts, eyes, kidneys and heart, Mark says.

A lecturer at the University of Bamenda, who requested anonymity to ensure his safety, explains that the removal of those body parts is what marks the deaths of these young women as ritual killings.

He explains that ritualists pay killers to come back with certain body parts, which the ritualists then take to witch doctors or use themselves. Ritualists are usually people seeking fame, money, or positions in government and politics.

Although there were occasional reports of ritual killing in Cameroon before, he says, they were not as large in scope or frequency as the massive killing that recently occurred in Yaoundé.

Beatrice Ngwe, a mother of four girls and one boy, lives with her family in Bamenda. Ngwe says she feels the pain of the mothers in Yaoundé who lost their daughters to ritualists.

Being a mother of four girls is not easy, she says with a heavy voice. I fear for their life all the time.

Ngwes friends daughter disappeared during 2008 after the woman sent her 9-year-old to deliver a message, Ngwe says. The girls body has not been found, leading the town to suspect she became a victim of a ritual killing.

Ngwe says she would not want to live with the guilt of being the author of any of her daughters or sons misfortune, so she is taking extra safety precautions. These days, she fears even more that they may be killed for ritual purposes.

I will die to protect my daughters, Ngwe says. If an errand is very important that it cant wait to see the light of the next day, I prefer to go on it myself.

Melanie Vishiy, 22, is a student at Trinity Computer Training Center in Bamenda. She says she fears for her life because of the news of ritual killings of young women in Yaoundé as well as of another girl during January in Nkambe, a town in the Northwest region.

Since I heard of the death of the young girls in Yaoundé and in Nkambe, I dont go out after 6 p.m., she says, shaking her head. No, I dont, not even to urinate at night. I do that in a small bucket meant for the purpose.

Vishiy had heard of incidents of ritual killings before. But she says that she didnt understand the reality of it and was never scared until news broke about the recent series of deaths.

Now, she says she has never been so scared and alert in her life. She doesnt trust any man she comes across while walking alone.

If a man is on a path with me, just two of us, I make sure I start preparing my heels for running, she says. I look at him directly into his face and try to keep a reasonable distance from him.

Vishiy advises girls to stay indoors for their safety.

I am calling on girls and women to stay close to homes, she says. I am not saying that they shouldnt go out there and have fun, but they should do it with limitation and reasoning.

Beyond the home, teachers in Bamenda are doing their part to spread the message of safety.

Sarah Koye is a teacher at Government Bilingual Primary School Group 2 in Bamenda. She says the recent killings in Yaoundé have prompted teachers to introduce safety tips to their pupils.

We ask them to always move in groups when coming to school and when going back home, Koye says.

Some teachers go as far as asking pupils to tell their parents that they should not send them on errands in the dark or on lonely roads.

The children know what is going on in the nation, she says. When she asked her students whether they had heard about the killings, some children shouted that they had watched it on the news, while others had heard about it from their parents and friends. At school, children shared safety tips that they had received at home.

Because all victims since December have been women, Koye focuses extra training on female students. Some ritual killers begin by violating the children sexually, so she has also introduced some elementary sex education and lessons on morality.

Koye helps the students understand that they are too young for sexual activities and advises them to run and scream if a man makes such advances. She asks them not to follow strange men into homes or bushes. Teachers also tell pupils not to speak with or to accept gifts from strangers on the way to and from school.

In our days, we could receive things from strangers, talk with strange people on the way, without any strings attached, she says. Today, such interactions may only lead to danger. We tell our pupils to be very careful and alert.

The students are doing their best to take the advice that they are being given in school, Koye says.

Outside of school and the home, the police is working to protect the population of Bamenda.

Ever since the ritual killing cases in Yaoundé, the commissioner of police has asked the force to be more vigilant, Mark of the Rapid Intervention Battalion says. They are to arrest and interrogate anybody walking the streets late at night.

We patrol the town all night just to make sure that nothing goes wrong, he says. We have arrested and interrogated many suspects that we find in suspicious places in the heart of the night.

Mark says the battalions lines are open to all. They have received many calls both day and night from people who find themselves in difficult situations. He says the force always goes to their rescue and doesnt spare any suspect from questioning and possible detainment.

He says the number of calls they receive and suspects they have pursued is confidential. But so far, there have been no cases of ritual killing in Bamenda.

Security has stepped up in all the towns of Cameroon, Mark says. He asks the public to trust the capabilities of the police.

We will stop at nothing to put this town under serious surveyance, he says.

Source: Wave of ritual killings spark panic in Cameroon, increase safety measures