In South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Mozambique, Burundi, in most countries in Southern Africa people with albinism are targeted, terrorized, attacked, mutilated, murdered, all for one purpose: muti. In recent years governments in some of these countries have taken measures to protect their albino-citizens. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania pledged to crackdown on albino killings (2015), the Malawian government ordered police to shoot in a bid to protect albinos (2015). Prosecution of suspects have started in various countries. Yet it is not enough. The attacks and killings continue. More needs to be done: education – to teach people that superstition, the belief in the power of muti is misplaced and that one cannot get away with murder – and the rule of law are key to eradicate these heinous crimes against innocent people who are born with a disability and have to live with it: albinism. (webmaster FVDK).
Published: June 2, 2016 By: eNCA
JOHANNESBURG – with hate crimes against people with albinism still rife across the continent, the African Union and SADC have been urged to do more on their behalf.
In South Africa,a campaign has been launched to try and put an end to this human rights crisis.
“There is a lot of energy worldwide to protect the rhino, we expect the same if not more energy to protect people with albinism. If they are being hunted like the rhino, how much coverage do they get, one rhino killed in Malawi or in SA the while world will know about it. But people with albinism their story is not told aggressively enough as we hear stories about the rhino.”
*View the attached video for more on the plight of people living with albinism in Africa.
This posting contains not only the article announced in it heading but also many related articles, going back as far as February 1, 2018 when the news of the missing girl and baby first broke out. The gruesome crime got much attention in South African newspapers. It shows once again the vulnerability of people with albinism in South Africa. However, the South African judicial system is to be complimented this time for its swift actions and the punishment of the perpetrators.
Also see my November 5, 2018 posting with an article on this murder case plus the stealing of body parts from a 28-year-old albino man just hours after he was buried, and my posting of November 6, 2018, with a more general but highly recommended article, ‘Why Albions are being murdered in South Africa’, by Tom Head (webmaster FVDK).
Published: August 22, 2019 By: Etsey Atisu (face2faceAfrica)
A 40-year-old South African teacher, Josiah Thubane, has admitted guilt to kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, for a ritual referred to locally as muti.
The man, who is only one of four men accused of the crime, also abducted a 15-month-old baby without albinism and later threw her alive off a bridge to drown in a dam near the N4 highway, reports the Sowetan Live.
He pleaded guilty to all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse.
Thubane, a teacher by profession and father of four, apologized to the family as he was escorted to the holding cells.
According to the Sowetan Live, mother of Gabisile, Anna Shabane told the the Middelburg High Court in Mpumalanga that her family has had to beef up security at home since the incident that took place in 2018.
In January 2018, Gabisile was abducted by some men from her home at Hlalakahle in eMalahleni area of Mpumalanga in 2018 along with her 15-month-old baby cousin, Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
The group of men allegedly wanted her body parts for muti purposes.
In a statement read out in court, Thubane said that he was part of the plan to kill Gabisile and admitted that he knew she was being abducted to be killed for her body parts. He also admitted to killing baby Nkosikhona.
“I admit that on the 27-28 of January 2018 I did unlawfully and intentionally kill the baby by throwing him off the bridge of Zaalklap River. I admit that on the next day in Cullinan, I killed Gabisile Shabane, a 13-year-old,” reports the Sowetan Live.
Testifying in court, Anna Shabane said she still has flashbacks of the day she found her daughter’s headless and decomposed body with missing body parts.
“I was close to my daughter, and her twin sister Khanyisile has been more shattered by her sister’s passing. The manner in which she was killed makes me feel that they should have taken me and not her,” reports the Sowetan Live.
“I replay the vivid images in my head over and over again and I keep hoping she would come back. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her,” Shabane added.
The prosecutor on the case, Ntsika Mpolweni, told the court the victim’s report revealed that the mother of the murdered 15-month-old baby, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, had been psychologically affected since the mother was breastfeeding him when he was abducted.
The Sowetan Live reports that according to social workers, the family continues to live in fear and had become overprotective of the remaining child as they fear he could also be attacked and killed.
“The fear is so extreme that the [toddler] cannot even go and play outside with other children and that is as the result of the attack, abduction and killing of two of their children.”
Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer; Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga, the other three men who face the same charges, will however appear in court again on May 25 next year.
Related: Teacher admits chopping up teen girl with albinism
Published: August 21, 2019 By: Promise Marupeng (Sowetan Live)
The family of a slain 13-year-old girl with albinism are so terrified of muthi killers that they have made their toddler a prisoner in his own home.
Yesterday, Anna Shabane – the mother of 13-year-old Gabisile – told the Middelburg High Court that the family has had to beef up security at home.
Gabisile was killed after she was abducted from her home in Hlalakahle in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, last year by a group of men who allegedly wanted her body parts for muti purposes.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old baby cousin, who didn’t have albinism, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, was also abducted with her and later thrown alive off a bridge to drown in a dam near the N4 highway.
One of the four men accused of the double murders, Josiah Thubane, 40, pleaded guilty on all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse.
Speaking in aggravation of Thubane’s sentence, Shabane told the high court that her family was living in fear and that her daughter’s killing has destroyed her family.
“I was close to my daughter, and her twin sister Khanyisile has been more shattered by her sister’s passing. The manner in which she was killed makes me feel that they should have taken me and not her,” she said sobbing.
Shabane told the court that she still has flashbacks of the day she found her daughter’s headless and decomposed body with missing body parts.
“I replay the vivid images in my head over and over again and I keep hoping she would come back. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her,” said the mother.
Shabane also revealed that after security was beefed up by installing CCTV cameras and building a high wall at her house, rumour swelled that she had sold her children.
“I was helped by the municipality after my family was attacked to build a wall around my home and to put in cameras, but my community accused me of selling my children for money to renovate my home,” said the mother.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni told the court the victim’s report revealed that the mother of the murdered 15-month-old baby, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, was psychologically affected. Mpolweni said when the child was abducted Ngwenya was breastfeeding him.
The prosecutor further said according to social workers, the family lived in fear and was overprotective of the remaining child as they feared he could also be killed.
“The fear is so extreme that the [toddler] cannot even go and play outside with other children and that is as the result of the attack, abduction and killing of two of their children.”
In a statement read out in court, Thubane said that he was part of the plan to kill Gabisile and admitted that he knew she was being abducted to be killed for her body parts.
Thubane also admitted to killing baby Nkosikhona.
“I admit that on the 27-28 of January 2018 I did unlawfully and intentionally kill the baby by throwing him off the bridge of Zaalklap River. I admit that on the next day in Cullinan, I killed Gabisile Shabane, a 13-year-old,” said Thubane.
Thubane, a teacher by profession and father of four, apologised to the family as he was escorted to the holding cells.
Three of his co-accused in the case – Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer, Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga – who face the same charges, will appear in court again on May 25 next year.
Mpolweni said that Thubane was not remorseful for the gruesome murder of the two children.
“He only cooperated after he was caught and nothing justified slaughtering Gabisile and chopping off her head, left arm, removing her heart, liver, genital parts that came as proof supported by the postmortem,” said Mpolweni.
Mpolweni further asked the judge to consider the fact that a baby was thrown off a bridge like a stone into a stream of water to die.
“Did he ever ask himself what trauma and pain the Shabane and Ngwenya families have gone through after their actions?”
Mpolweni further said the perpetrators deserved no lighter sentence than life imprisonment.
The matter was postponed to Friday for sentencing.
Related: Traditional healer to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby
Published: August 20, 2019 By: Nonkululeko Njilo (Sowetan Live)
A traditional healer in Mpumalanga who admitted killing a teen who had albinism and her baby cousin for muti to boost his business will soon learn how long he will spend behind bars.
Sentencing proceedings against Themba Thubane were expected to commence on Tuesday in the Middelburg high court.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that Thubane pleaded guilty to seven charges.
Provincial NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the man admitted to killing Gabisile Shabane, 13, and her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya in order to extract muti from them to revive his failing business.
Thubane was arrested with co-accused Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize‚ and Knowledge Mhlanga in 2018, after they allegedly broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga.
The three co-accused have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020.
The group was armed during the break-in when they kidnapped the victims and allegedly later murdered them.
Thubane will be sentenced on charges including murder, kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to murder, and the violation of a corpse, according to Nyuswa.
More than a year since the tragic ordeal, the family expressed relief at the commencement of sentencing proceedings.
In an interview with eNCA, family spokesperson Chantel Ngwenya said the delays had caused unbearable pain to the family.
“We’re really happy the trial has commenced because we have been waiting for a long time. The waiting was killing us as a family. We are happy even though the others did not admit to committing the crime. It’s painful to us, it shows that they are not remorseful for the pain they’ve caused us.”
On Thubane’s guilty plea, Ngwenya said: “We hope that we will be able to find closure from the one that admitted to committing the crime. To us it shows he is remorseful, he has a conscience inside him, he regrets it.”
The family hopes the sentence will take into account the immense pain caused to them by the killings.
Related: DNA test delayed as murdered albino girl forced to drink brake fluid
Published: June 2, 2018 By: eNCA
WITBANK – The family of 14-year-old Gabisile Shabane, one of two children who were kidnapped from their home in Hlalanikahle in Witbank in Mpumalanga in January and later found murdered, on Friday said that DNA tests on her body were delayed because she was forced to drink brake fluid mixed with dagga shortly before she was murdered.
Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane said they have received the DNA test results for another murdered child, 15-month-old boy Nkosikhona Ngwenya, from the South African Police Service two weeks ago.
“It’s very painful to wait for months to bury our children,” Shabane said speaking to reporters outside the Witbank Magistrate’s Court, shortly after four men – Thokozani Msibi, Brilliant Mkhize, Themba Thubane and Knowledge Mhlanga – appeared in connection with the kidnapping and murder.
“The DNA tests must be completed so that we can bury those children. Our lives are very difficult. We often think and talk about this matter.”
Provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Monica Nyuswa, told the African News Agency that the DNA tests were delayed because Gabisile’s body was contaminated with brake fluid.
“The DNA tests will still be completed,” Nyuswa said.
On 4 April, State Prosecutor Fanie Mavundla told the same court that Gabisile was forced to drink brake fluid mixed with dagga, allegedly by one of the accused, shortly before she was murdered.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said Friday officials were ready to give the Shabane family Nkosikhona’s body if they wanted it.
The children were kidnapped from their home on28 January, allegedly by three men who entered the house through a broken window.
Gabisile’s headless body was found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan in the east of Pretoria in the third week of February with some body parts missing.
The body of Nkosikhona, who is not an albino, was found on the side of the N4 freeway in Mpumalanga in the same week.
The case was postponed to 14 August for further investigations.
Related: Nine months after she was mutilated and killed‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane will finally be laid to rest
Published: October 11, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Almost nine months after being abducted from her home and killed for her body parts‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane who had albinism‚ will finally be laid to rest.
The Mpumalanga Community Security Department has announced that she and her one-year-old nephew Nkosikhona Ngwenya will be buried in Witbank next week.
Their burial had been delayed for months on end as DNA tests had yet to verify that the mutilated body parts found in different areas all belonged to Gabisile. The tests have since been concluded.
Gabisile’s headless body had been found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan‚ east of Pretoria. It was understood that some of her other parts were found in premises belonging to one of the accused in the matter‚ while Nkosikhona had been thrown into a swamp.
It is believed that the attackers had stormed into their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned Nkosikhona for another albino child who was in the house.
“Four suspects were arrested in February and were charged with kidnapping and murder‚” said department spokesman Joseph Mabuza.
Amongst those arrested is a traditional healer. During their bail application‚ the court had heard horrific details of how Gabisile was forced to drink brake fluid and beer and also smoke dagga shortly before her mutilation.
The suspects on Wednesday returned to the Witbank Magistrate’s Court‚ where their case was postponed to August 2019 for trial. They remain behind bars.
Meanwhile‚ Mpumalanga’s MEC of Community Security Pat Ngomane was on Thursday expected to unveil the Shabane home‚ which has been renovated to tighten security.
“During his visit to the family earlier this year‚ MEC Ngomane‚ the eMalahleni Local Municipality and some stakeholders such as Highveld Steel pledged to assist the family by enhancing the security features of their house in order to prevent further break-ins‚” said Mabuza.
“Through donations‚ the MEC and the stakeholders managed to refurbish the house. The roof of the house has been redone‚ the house plastered and painted and the floor tiled. A security wall and a gate have also been completed‚” he added.
Related: ‘Let’s burn this court!’ Outrage as alleged killers of albino girl is postponed again
Published: August 14, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Residents of Witbank expressed outrage on Tuesday after hearing the case against four men accused of abducting and killing an albino girl and her nephew was postponed yet again.
“Let’s burn this court!” the 150-strong crowed chanted as they gathered outside the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
The four accused appeared via satellite from the Witbank Correctional Services Centre‚ where they have been kept since their arrest.
Tensions flared outside the court behind the rolls of police tape used to keep the crowds away from the building.
“The family has stayed with a cloud of death over them for seven months and‚ according to our customs‚ this is not done‚” Taylor Pookgoadi‚ the district secretary of the SA Communist Party in Nkangala told the crowd of supporters.
While‚ the family and scores of other supporters had arrived at the court hoping for the matter to commence‚ it became apparent that the matter was not quite ready for trial.
“It doesn’t seem like there will be much progress when we come back on October 10‚” Pookgoadi told the crowd. “We want the case to simply be moved to a bigger court.”
The case had been postponed after it was found that a fifth suspect was yet to be extradited from Swaziland‚ where he also faces other charges.
Also‚ the DNA results‚ which would determine if the body parts found in different locations were that of 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane‚ who had been mutilated‚ were yet to be obtained.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ was abducted with her.
It is believed that the attackers who had stormed their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned toddler for another albino child who was in the house. His remains were found dumped in a swamp near the N4 highway.
Trudy Xhala-Mavimbela‚ from the office of the mayor‚ said the family had found themselves in a tricky situation because not all of Gabisile’s body parts had been found.
“We can’t bury them until the suspects [hand over] the rest of the body parts‚” Xhala- Mavimbela said.
“This matter has been dragging on since January. Government needs to speed things up so that the family can find peace. This has been traumatic for the family‚” she added‚ addressing the crowds.
On Tuesday‚ two of the alleged killers bowed their heads‚ avoiding contact with the camera that showed their faces to the court. The third beamed his bright smile as he saw the crowds of people seated in the court gallery‚ while the fourth accused simply stared straight forward.
Gabisile’s sister‚ the mother of Nkosikhona‚ stared at the screen‚ glaring at the men accused of taking her son and her sister’s life.
After proceedings‚ she‚ her mother and other relatives who had packed the court stood outside‚ where they briefly spoke to the media.
They expressed concern at the delay in the case.
“We are not happy with how things are progressing‚” said Sibongile Shabane.
They expressed their displeasure at how abruptly court proceedings had ended as one of the accused had raised his hand‚ requesting to speak to his lawyer.
The lawyer stepped out of the courtroom to give his client‚ who was at the prison‚ a call.
The matter was temporarily adjourned but minutes later the lawyer returned and left the court‚ leaving the court orderlies to explain that‚ as previously stated‚ the matter had simply been postponed to October.
Meanwhile‚ a source close to the family spoke to the trauma that the family faced as they frequently went to the mortuary to check on the corpses of the children‚ adding that the body parts were wilting away in the ice.
The worst part‚ however‚ was that even as court proceedings were scheduled to continue in October‚ there was no guarantee that the DNA tests would be ready and the bodies would be released for the burial‚ he said.
Related: Body parts found at home of muti-murder accused
Published: March 7, 2018 By: eNCA
WITBANK – Police found a human head and other human body parts at the home of traditional healer Thokozani Msibi in eMalahleni in Mpumalanga last month.
Msibi was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of two children, one of whom was living with albinism, the eMalahleni Magistrate’s Court&39;s heard on Tuesday.
State prosecutor opposed bail, who appeared with his co-accused Brilliant Mkhize. He said Msibi also showed the police a shallow grave in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, where the body of a 14-year-old girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, was found buried last month.
“Our witness said he was there when Gabisile was chopped off,” said Mavundla, which led to Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane, who was sitting in the public gallery, to sob loudly.
“That witness said he carried that girl on his back. The accused (Msibi) then went to a traditional healer in Swaziland and asked him to cleanse him of bad luck. He was going to pay that traditional healer with a vagina of a girl, but the traditional healer refused. That traditional healer is also a State witness.”
Gabisile and a 15-month-old boy, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, were kidnapped from their home in Hlalanikahle in eMalahleni on January 28, allegedly by three men who entered their home after breaking a window. Nkosikhona’s body was found on the side of the N4 highway last month.
Mavundla told the court that the same state witness told the police that Gabisile’s body parts were chopped off by a “Mr Gamede” from Swaziland, who was alleged to be with Msibi and others. He said some of the missing parts from Gabisile’s body were not found.
Msibi’s lawyer, Zamo Sibisi, earlier argued that his client was tortured and forced to make statements after he was arrested.
“The accused stated that whatever statements or pointing out (of crime scenes) he made was not done voluntarily,” said Sibisi.
Magistrate Darleen Venter denied Msibi bail and postponed the matter to March 13 so that Mkhize could get a legal representative.
Related: Policeman reveals horror he found at sangoma’s premises
Published: February 28, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
A police officer has described the trauma that he and other officers experienced when they discovered remains believed to be those of Gabisile Shabani‚ a 13-year-old albino girl who was murdered‚ allegedly as part of a muti ritual.
The premises in Emalahleni in Mpumalanga belonged to a traditional healer‚ who was arrested last week.
“The dog was first put in there‚ but it came out with nothing‚” said the officer‚ who asked not to be named.
“The dog seemed weak and disorientated as it came out of the room. The dog handler asked [the traditional healer] what he had done to his dog and he said there was strong muti in there‚” the officer said.
Inside the room‚ police officers found muti‚ buckets and bags with various substances‚ and what appeared to be body parts.
“He was telling us what was in each thing. He was speaking like a normal person‚ like you and I. It was really disturbing‚” said the officer.
Gabisile’s beheaded body was found in a shallow grave in Cullinan near Pretoria last week. This was three weeks after she and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were taken at gunpoint in the middle of the night by three men who broke into their home in Hlalanikahle.
It was alleged that the gunmen had mistaken Nkosikhona for another toddler in the house‚ who also has albinism.
The badly decomposed body of the little toddler was recovered on the same day Gabisile’s body was found. He had been thrown into a swamp along the N4.
The officer said he was disturbed to learn from pathologists conducting the post-mortem how Gabisile’s body had been mutilated.
Meanwhile‚ two other people have also been arrested in connection with the incident‚ said the officer. They were arrested in Swaziland and are yet to be brought back to South Africa.
The 32-year-old traditional healer remains in police custody. He appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday as a group of residents gathered outside the court to protest against his release. The father of four will return to court on March 6‚ when his formal bail application is expected to continue.
Related: Bodies believed to be those of two children snatched from their home in Witbank last month found
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange (Sowetan Live)
Two bodies believed to be those of a little albino girl and her one-year-old nephew who were snatched from their home in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ last month were found on Wednesday.
Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said one of the corpses was found in Cullinan while the other was found in a swamp on the N4 en route to Pretoria.
“The bodies were in a bad state‚” Hlathi said.
“A postmortem needs to be conducted to determine the cause of death and DNA tests to also confirm it is them‚” he said.
Gabisile Shabani‚ 13‚ and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were kidnapped last month by armed gunmen who broke into their house in the middle of the night.
Relatives said they believed Gabisile had been taken because she was an albino. They also told TimesLIVE they believed Nkosikhona had been mistaken for another toddler who was in the house at the time who also lived with albinism.
Hlathi said one suspect had since been arrested.
“He will be appearing in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court today‚” Hlathi said.
It is believed the kidnappers mistakenly thought the toddler also had the condition.
Three gunmen broke a window and entered the house.
They then trashed a bedroom where some family members were sleeping, taking 13-year-old Gabisini Shabani and Nkosikhona Ngwenya at gunpoint.
Nomthandozo Ngwenya says the men took the young boy by mistake.
“She was sleeping on the floor and they grabbed her and left with her. Then the other men, also armed, went to the next room and took the little boy, thinking he too had albinism but he doesn&39;t&39;,” Ngwenya said.
She says the family fears for the two kidnapped children.
“People have always said to us, we are staying with money at this house, pointing to our children, saying we could cut their hair and sell it for thousands of rand,” explained Ngwenya.
Residents took part in a march, attended by many schoolchildren, calling for the return of the children.
Reshoketsoe Malekame, who also lives with albinism, says she fears for her life and is always on the lookout.
Most residents in the area called for an end to the targetting of albinos.
Police confirmed they were still searching for the pair and attempts to find them in the area resulted in no progress.
“We have also alerted all other nearby police stations to be on the lookout for them,” police spokesperson Leonard Hlathi said.
Two cases of kidnapping have been opened.
Hlathi urged anyone with information to contact police on 082 372 2195.
The unidentified boy, named Adam by Metropolitan Police detectives, is believed to have been the victim of a ritual killing after being brought from his native Nigeria to Britain.
A substance found in the boy’s lower intestine was identified by an expert at Kew Gardens in London as the highly toxic calabar bean, from West Africa.
Police believe a preparation of the calabar bean – which can be fatal if swallowed, or cause paralysis in tiny doses – may have been used to subdue the boy, by slow paralysis, before his throat was cut. It was administered at least 24 hours before his death.
It also emerged yesterday that the murder squad, which has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds investigating the boy’s death, has prepared its first file of evidence in the case for the Crown Prosecution Service.
Scotland Yard sources played down suggestions that charges were close but officers have uncovered what they believe is cogent circumstantial evidence.
They have previously arrested a woman in Glasgow – who has since returned to Nigeria – and a man being held by police in Dublin. The pair, who are husband and wife, are not biologically related to Adam, it is understood.
The man in Dublin has been sentenced in his absence in Germany for trafficking offences and is wanted for extradition by the Germans.
A pair of child’s shorts on the headless and limbless torso of Adam, who was probably aged between four and six, also came from Germany.
Charges which might be brought in any trial include murder, conspiracy to murder and trafficking offences.
It also emerged yesterday that the Government’s leading law officer, the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, QC, wants to lead the prosecution team in any trial arising from the Adam investigation.
The groundbreaking hunt for Adam’s killers Published: Monday August 4, 2003 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
Quoting: Sandro Contenta – Toronto Star (Canada), August 2, 2003 Link disappeared (webmaster FVDK)
DNA tests used to trace victim’s origin Boy’s murder linked to child trafficking
LONDON�One more turn of the tide and the torso of the boy in the River Thames would have been swept out to the North Sea, the story of his chilling end buried perhaps forever in a watery grave.
But the alarm was sounded when the bright orange shorts hanging from the torso caught the eye of a passerby up high on Tower Bridge.
Police fished out what was left of Adam, the name they eventually gave the still unidentified boy, at the foot of the Globe Theatre on Sept. 21, 2001
Since then, the story pieced together of what police consider London’s first known ritual killing is macabre enough to have challenged even Shakespeare’s imagination. And the investigative work that has brought police close to cracking the case is groundbreaking.
It combined unprecedented forensic research with old-fashioned legwork that took investigators to Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S., South Africa, Nigeria, Scotland and Ireland.
The latest break in the investigation came Tuesday, when Metropolitan Police raided several homes in London and arrested 21 suspected members of a child trafficking ring.
“We’re pretty convinced that we are on to a group of individuals who trafficked Adam into the country,” said Detective Inspector William O’Reilly.
The arrests highlighted a UNICEF report the next day estimating that thousands of children have been smuggled into Britain during the past several years to be exploited as sex slaves, or for slave labour.
But public attention was especially focused on what police described as evidence of occult rituals found in the raided apartments, such as an animal skull with a nail driven through it.
Most of those arrested come from Benin City, Nigeria, an area where remarkable forensic sleuthing in the case has determined as Adam’s home.
“I must stress we are not judging any cultures,” said Andy Baker, the police commander heading the investigation. “We are investigating a crime �the crime of murder.”
When the remains of Adam were found, investigators quickly figured out that his torso had been in the water for up to 10 days, that he was black, he was between four and eight years old, and murder ended his life.
It wasn’t the first limbless and headless torso 50-year-old Ray Fysh had seen in his forensic career. But it left him scratching his head.
Bodies are dismembered, he says, either to hide the victim’s identity, or to more easily transport and dispose of the body. But with Adam, no effort had been made to weigh down or conceal the torso once his killers dumped it in the Thames.
“In fact, he had orange shorts on, which made him stand out like a beacon,” Fysh says.
Even more puzzling was the conclusion that the shorts were placed on the torso after Adam was killed, because his legs could not have been hacked off with them on. The inside tag had washing instructions in German, and the brand was made exclusively in China for a German chain of stores.
“None of us knew, really, what we were dealing with at the time,” says Fysh, a scientist with Britain’s Forensic Science Service, and the forensic co-ordinator in the Adam case.
“Nobody had come across this sort of stuff before,” he adds.
Fysh’s team began with basic forensic work. They mapped a profile of Adam’s DNA, to be used to identify his parents if they’re ever found. They covered his torso with tape in a bid to lift any hairs or fibres that might belong to the murderer, and came up blank. Swab tests found no evidence of sexual assault.
Toxicology tests found only one drug in Adam, a cough suppressant called Pholcodine, bought without a prescription at any pharmacy. Adam was treated for a cough shortly before he was killed.
“It wasn’t obvious then, but looking back on it now, it shows some sort of duty of care to this child,” Fysh says.
The way Adam’s limbs were cut off was brutally precise.
The killer either used a series of heavy, razor-sharp kitchen knives, or one that was sharpened throughout the dismemberment.
“They cut the skin, peeled the muscle back, and then cut through the bone. They never went through a joint,” Fysh says.
Dismemberment occurred when Adam was already dead. But the cause of death was no less horrible. He was slaughtered like an animal.
“The cause of death was a knife trauma to the neck,” Fysh says, choosing his words carefully. “The child then went into extensive blood loss.”
About six weeks after Adam’s torso was discovered, police searching the river for the rest of his body found seven half-burned candles wrapped inside a white cotton bedsheet. The name Adekoyejo Fola Adoye was written three times on the sheet, and cut into the candles.
But in the end, the candles and bedsheet turned out to have nothing to do with Adam. Detectives found that Adoye lived in New York, and his London-based parents had performed a ceremony with the Celestial Church of Christ to celebrate the fact that he had not been killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Centre.
Still, police suspected they were stumbling into an uncharted area of the macabre and supernatural, and turned for guidance to Richard Hoskins, a specialist in African religions at King’s College in London.
Europol estimates there have been at least nine cases of ritual killing across Europe in the past 15 years, and Hoskins believes more are bound to occur as immigration grows.
Every year, about 300 people are killed in South Africa for muti, a Zulu word for traditional medicine. Muti is usually a mixture of herbs, but in rare cases human body parts are used.
About the same number are killed yearly in parts of Nigeria in illegal human sacrifices where the victim’s blood is offered to gods, spirits or ancestors, Hoskins adds. Body parts might be kept powerful trophies or souvenirs.
Tribes that practise animal sacrifices consider the ritual killing of humans a terrible moral and legal crime �a taboo that makes those who break it feel all the more empowered, especially when children are the victims, Hoskins says.
“Because of the innocence and the purity of the child it becomes the most powerful form of magic that can be done.”
The cut in Adam’s neck led Hoskins to believe the ritual was more likely from the west of Africa than the south.
“It was done in a very specific and deliberate way, clearly to bleed him to death in a relatively quick way. The point was to spill blood on the ground as an offering,” he says.
Hoskins says the orange colour of Adam’s shorts, and the dumping of his torso in the river is also ritually significant. He believes the murder or murderers sacrificed Adam to gain some sort of power or good luck for an undertaking in Britain.
For police, Hoskins’ theories were horribly fascinating, but brought them no closer to identifying Adam or his killers. Finding out whatever they could about his short life became the focus of Fysh’s forensic team by January, 2002.
Adam’s stomach was empty. The last time he ate was 12 to 18 hours before his death.
In his lower intestine �an area rarely examined in forensic work �they found traces of pollen from a tree found in London, but not in Africa.
“So we know he was alive and breathing in London before he was killed,” Fysh says.
Also in his lower intestine were tiny clay pellets with specks of pure gold embedded on their surface, along with what appeared to be finely ground up bones. To determine the origin of the crushed bones, they were sent to the New York forensic team that conducted innovative work to identify victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hoskins says the concoction in Adam’s stomach is typical of the potions used to prepare victims for ritual killings in sub-Sahara Africa. It’s part of a process that led to Adam getting cough medicine to ensure he was a healthy offering to the gods.
“The case of Adam is definitely a ritualistic killing. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Hoskins says. “The remarkable thing is that he was brought from Africa to the U.K. specifically for the purpose.”
Hoskins didn’t believe Adam was the victim of a muti killing, but police weren’t ruling it out without hard evidence.
In April, 2002, detectives travelled to South Africa for a Johannesburg press conference where Nelson Mandela made a public appeal for information about Adam.
But in July, a break in the case would point to Hoskins’ theory.
Social workers in Glasgow had reported seeing strange items in the home of a 31-year-old West African asylum seeker. Police searched the flat and found objects they believed were associated with curses, including whisky jars filled with chicken feathers. More significant were the clothes found, which police believe were purchased in the same German shop were Adam’s orange shorts were likely bought.
The woman, Joyce Osagiede, was arrested and questioned about Adam’s murder. She was not charged, and was later deported to her Nigerian hometown, in the Benin City area.
At about the same time, Fysh’s team decided to try something never before attempted in forensic work.
They began by mapping Adam’s “mitochondrial DNA” (mtDNA), which is exclusively passed on from mothers to siblings. Children have the same mtDNA as their mother, who in turn has the same mtDNA as her mother, and so on.
They compared Adam’s mtDNA to 6,000 sequences published in scientific studies. Adam’s sequence had never been found among populations in southern African, or in people in eastern Africa. But it matched mtDNA found in the northwestern part of the continent.
To further narrow the search, the team called on the services of Ken Pye, a professor of soil geology at the University of London. The next series of tests were based on the maxim, “We are what we eat.”
There is a certain level of the mineral strontium that works its way through the food chain; from water, to earth, to plants, to animals, and, finally, into the bones of humans.
In other words, people walk around with a strontium signature that matches the one in their environment. And if a person moves from one country to another, it takes six to 10 years before the strontium signature in the bones changes to match the new habitat.
Given Adam’s likely age, his strontium signature would not only determine the place of his birth, but the place where he grew up. It matched the signature found in a zone of ancient, Precambrian rock, which in Africa is mostly predominant in Nigeria. Suddenly, the forensic evidence also began matching Hoskins’ academic research.
Fysh and detective O’Reilly travelled to Nigeria last November and spent 2�weeks collecting rocks, animal bones and vegetables from local markets in a 10,000 square kilometre area.
They also collected post-mortem human bones from three sites around the country, including Benin City.
They returned to London with 120 samples, and by the end of January matched the strontium signature in Adam’s bones to that found in a corridor stretching from Benin City to Ibaden, where villages of the Yoruba tribe dot the only main road along the way.
It was, in forensic terms, a eureka moment.
“From a torso floating in the Thames, we now think the child was born and raised in the Benin City area,” Fysh says.
Detectives have since gone to the area to post leaflets on trees about Adam’s murder, and to encourage local residents who might have information to come forward. They also publicized a reward of $110,000 for tips leading to the arrest of Adam’s killers and a $5,500 reward for information that will identify him.
The next big break came July 2, when Irish police arrested a 37-year-old Nigerian man in Dublin on an extradition warrant issued by German police.
In March, 2001, Sam Onogigovie was sentenced in his absence to seven years in Germany, for forgery and crimes linked to the trafficking of people.
He’s believed to be the estranged husband of Osagiede, the woman arrested in Glasgow and deported to Benin City last year. Police are seeking a DNA test to determine whether he’s Adam’s father, but believe he was more likely involved in smuggling the boy to London.
“It’s a case we all dearly would like to solve,” Fysh says. “At the end of the day, it’s a murder of a very young boy in grotesque circumstances.
“We want to send a message out there we will not accept this in London. We accept people’s culture. But a murder we will not accept.”
Focus: Muti – The Story of Adam Published: August 4, 2003 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
Quoting: Paul Vallely, Independent (England), Aug. 3, 2003 Link disappeared (webmaster FVDK)
The arrest of 21 people in connection with the discovery of a child’s mutilated body in the Thames points to a network of people traffickers and an underworld of abuse and domestic slavery. Paul Vallely, who has followed the case in the two years since the torso of the young African boy was found, says the evidence leads to the bloody ritual of muti, where the body parts of children are sacrificed in pursuit of spiritual power (Independent, England, August 3, 2003).
It was the body of a five-year-old African boy. The corpse had no head. The legs had been severed above the knee and the arms cut off at the shoulder. All that remained was a torso dressed – grotesquely – in a pair of orange shorts, which had been thrown into the Thames shortly before it was discovered in September 2001. Death had been from a violent trauma to the neck, and the limbs had been “skilfully” removed after death by an experienced butcher.
Yet it was not the gruesome details of the murder and dismemberment that last week – almost two years later – led 200 police officers to launch nine simultaneous dawn raids across London and arrest 21 people. It was the contents of the stomach of the child, whom the police – in an attempt to restore some humanity to the desecrated body – had named Adam. That, and the orange shorts in which the post-mortem showed he had been dressed after death.
Ironically, the clue that first put them on the trail to the arrests turned out to be a false lead. The body had been found by Tower Bridge. Initially, detectives wondered if the mutilation might be an attempt to disguise the identity of the victim of an accident, a family row or a sex crime. But then, two miles upstream in Chelsea, they found the remnants of an African ritual, with a Nigerian name written on a sheet, carved into seven half-burned candles. Might this be a ritual killing?
In the event, the Chelsea paraphernalia turned out to be unrelated. But before the police discovered that, they had sent to Johannesburg for Professor Hendrik Scholtz, a South African pathologist who is an expert in so-called muti killings – in which adherents of traditional African magic take human body parts and grind them down to make potions they believe bring good fortune to those who drink them. The professor came to England and, after a second post-mortem, confirmed the detectives’ fears. Muti had come to Britain.
The boy’s throat, he confirmed, had been cut and his blood drained from his body, probably for use in some ritual. Most significantly his first vertebra – the one between neck and spine – had been removed. This is known in Africa as the Atlas bone, for it is said to be the bone on which the mythical giant Atlas carried the world. In muti it is believed to be the centre of the body, where all nerve and blood vessels meet, and where all power is concentrated.
There was something else. Adam’s body was well-nourished and showed no signs of abuse, sexual or otherwise. Analysis of his stomach contents showed someone troubled to give him Pholcodine, a cough linctus, not long before he died. It was the classic muti scenario of an otherwise well-treated child being “volunteered” for sacrifice by his own family.
The police set out on two main lines of inquiry. The shorts – orange, they discovered, was a lucky colour in muti – carried the label Kids & Co, the brand-name for Woolworths in Germany. Detectives traced them to a batch of 820 pairs in size 116cm (age 5-7) that had been sold in 320 German stores. But then the trail went cold.
So, too, did a five-month trawl of London’s ethnic communities. Detectives came across plenty of rumours that muti ceremonies were taking place, but no evidence – and no sign of an identity for the murdered child. Painstaking checks of the attendance registers of 3,000 nurseries and primary schools found no missing five-year-old who tallied with what was known of Adam. When they sent forensic evidence to the United States for testing it came back with the verdict from the FBI that the case was “practically insoluble”. Even a public appeal by Nelson Mandela, broadcast across Africa, was fruitless.
But the dead child had not fallen totally silent. His DNA spoke up, as did the mineral levels in his bones. Analysts were able to establish that Adam had spent his life in a 100-mile corridor in the south-west of Nigeria, between Ibadan and Benin City. Revealingly, most of those arrested last week come from Benin.
The contents of his stomach were eloquent too. Forensic examination showed that the boy had been fed a muti potion of mixed bone, clay and gold.
There was something else. Analysis of pollen found in the boy’s stomach showed he had been alive when he came to London. It is thought he was brought across Northern Europe, possibly via Germany, and lived in Britain for a few weeks before his murder. “We’ve uncovered what we believe is a criminal network concentrating on people trafficking,” said Detective Inspector Will O’Reilly, who is leading the Adam inquiry. “We don’t know how many children are involved in this operation, but it’s certainly in the hundreds, if not the thousands, coming from mainland Africa through Europe into the UK.”
Lurid accounts of child trafficking have suggested the trade is primarily to provide recruits for the sex industry. But police believe that the majority of trafficked children are put to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, in what amounts to a modern form of slavery. Only a tiny number fall victim to muti.
Much of muti is innocent. The term derives from umu thi, the Zulu word for tree, which has become a byword for any traditional medicine, good or bad. Its everyday form consists of potions made from Africa’s indigenous herbs and plants to cure common ailments. It works. A pharmaceutical company has just signed a deal with the African National Healers Association to package some muti recipes. The South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has, with the aid of traditional healers, launched a “bio-prospecting” project to unlock the secrets of the nation’s 23,000 indigenous plants.
Most adherents stop with the plant recipes. But some believe that more complex complaints can be cured with animal parts such as crocodile fat, hawk wings, monkey heads or dried puff adders. Before the last World Cup qualifiers a hippo, lion, elephant and hyena were slaughtered to make a potion for the Swaziland team to give its footballers extra strength.
Muti becomes disturbing when it is extended to the notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers. For muti is not just a medicine, it is a metaphysic. It asserts that there is only so much luck in the world and each person has a limited supply of it. Very young children have not yet used all their luck, which can be transferred to whoever takes the medicine derived from their remains. This is the origin of the widespread African myth that sex with a virgin can cure someone of Aids: the younger the girl, the more potent the “medicine”.
It is unclear how widespread human muti is in West Africa. But in South Africa, where the government set up a Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Violence and Ritual Murders after a spate of killings of boys aged between one and six in Soweto, it is estimated that at least 300 people have been murdered for their body parts in the past decade. The figure could be as high as 500 a year. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK)
The killings are rarely impulsive. They are done to order by sangomas, or witch doctors, commissioned by clients with a particular need. Thus human skulls are placed in the foundations of new buildings to bring good luck to the business. Body parts are buried on farms to secure big harvests, severed hands built into shop entrances to encourage customers. Human hands burnt to ash and mixed into a paste are seen as a cure for strokes. Blood “boosts” vitality; brains, political power and business success. Genitals, breasts and placentas are used for infertility and good luck, with the genitalia of young boys and virgin girls being especially highly prized. There is a belief that body parts taken from live victims are rendered more potent by their screams.
Discovering all this provided the police with another clue. The genitals of the torso in the Thames had not been removed, suggesting that his killers needed muti potions for some other purpose. Adam had been sacrificed for non-sexual reasons.
It was almost a year after the discovery of Adam’s body that the next piece of the jigsaw fell into place. A representative of the social services department in Glasgow contacted Scotland Yard and reported that one of their clients, a West African woman, had said she wanted to perform a ritual with her children. Her name was Joyce Osagiede. When police travelled to Scotland to arrest her they discovered among her daughter’s clothes a pair of orange shorts of the exact size and brand as had been found on Adam. They also discovered that she had been living in Germany – the only place the shorts had been on sale – before coming to Britain with her children. It was not enough to charge her. She later returned to Nigeria.
Then, earlier this month, police tracked down the woman’s estranged husband, Sam Onojhighovie. The 37-year-old Nigerian man had appeared at the High Court in Dublin as part of an ongoing attempt to extradite him to Germany, where he had been convicted in his absence and sentenced to seven years for offences linked to human trafficking. Scotland Yard officers visited him for questioning.
Of the 21 people arrested in the dawn raids last week 10 were illegal immigrants. None have been charged. Following the raids, Inspector O’Reilly said: “We are pretty confident we have a group of individuals who could have trafficked Adam into the country.” Police are investigating a variety of offences, including benefit fraud, selling false passports and credit card and banking swindles. So far they are still some way off piecing together the exact fate of the boy they know as Adam.
“In West Africa there are several reasons for human sacrifices – for power, money, or to protect a criminal enterprise,” said Inspector O’Reilly. “We believe the prime motive for the murder was to bring good fortune. We suspect Adam was killed to bring traffickers luck.”
Police are waiting for the results of tests to compare the DNA of Sam Onojhighovie – and everyone arrested last week – with Adam’s. If it shows that a terrible ritual murder was carried out to bring good fortune to an iniquitous scheme to traffic in human beings, there could be a grim final irony. The muti killing that was supposed to ensure the success of a criminal enterprise may actually have ensured its failure.
Suspect responsible for death of 11 kids, wife tells police Published: August 4, 2003 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG Quoting: Vanguard (Nigeria), Aug. 4, 2003 Link disappeared (webmaster FVDK)
LONDON – A Nigerian man questioned in connection with the suspected ritual murder of a boy whose torso was found in the River Thames nearly two years ago is responsible for the deaths of 11 children, his wife told British police, The Sunday Times reported yesterday.
Sam Onojhighovie, 37, was arrested July 2 in Dublin under a German extradition warrant for offences linked to human trafficking but has also been questioned in the Adam case, the nickname given to the boy found dead in September 2001.
His wife Joyce Osagiede told British immigration in November 2001 that she was escaping from a religious cult that had been active in her home country of Sierra Leone and in Nigeria, The Sunday Times said. She was later found to be from Nigeria.
Onojhighovie, who had been setting up branches of a new demonic cult in Germany and London, had killed 11 children, including the couples eldest daughter, she said according to the same source.
Police arrested 21 people Tuesday around London in connection with the Adam case. Those arrested were believed to be in their 20s and 30s and mostly Nigerians. They included 10 black men, nine black women and two white women, one of whom was nursing a baby.
Police have requested DNA tests from those arrested, believing one of them could be related to Adam. Adam�s limbless, headless remains were discovered floating in the River Thames near London�s famous Tower Bridge, triggering one of the most gruesome murder cases in the British capital in recent years. Police suspect the boy was the victim of a ritual killing after he was brought to Britain from the vicinity of the Southern Nigerian city of Benin.
Human parts in bush meat Published: Thursday November 7, 2002 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG quoting : Western Daily News (England), Nov. 4, 2002 http://www.thisisbristol.com/ Link disappeared (webmaster FVDK).
Human flesh is being smuggled into Britain hidden in consignments of illegal bush meat, experts warned last night.
The horrifying twist to the bush meat trade was revealed with news of a raid on a London shop where it is believed human body parts were being sold.
Detectives investigating the murder of a five-year-old boy, whose torso was found in the Thames and whom officers believe was the victim of a West African ritual killing, joined a raid by environmental health officers.
There they found the first evidence of its kind linking the trade in bush meat to witchcraft ceremonies.
Officers seized items including a crocodile head, used in ritualistic dishes to “increase sexual stamina”.
Other packages of unidentifiable meat have been sent for DNA testing.
Experts say they are convinced human flesh is finding its way on to the streets as part of the illegal trade which deals in flesh from animals such as monkeys.
Clive Lawrence, Heathrow Airport’s meat transport director who joined detectives on the raid, last night said: “We have been told by moles protecting their own businesses that human flesh is being sold in this country. There is also an established trade in smuggling children, a lot disappear and no-one knows what happens to them.
“I think it is not just restricted to London, but to everywhere with high population density.”
Mr Lawrence said it was likely the trade had extended its deadly cargo to Bristol, adding he believed the murder of the Thames child – named Adam by detectives – was not a one-off.
He said underworld sources told him a human head will sell for �10,000. Flesh from a slaughtered child turned into African medicine or a “Muti” pendant, giving the wearer “incredible sexual power”, is said to cost about �5,000.
Detectives from Operation Swalcliffe investigating Adam’s death say he was smuggled in to Britain alive five days before being murdered.
They believe he was sacrificed in a ritual intended to bring good luck to his killers. In the past year police have discovered seven cases of West African religious rituals on the Thames.