Reports of ritualistic killings or human sacrifices in the Democratic Republic of Congo are rare. This is not to say that these crimes are not committed in this huge Central African country (its geographical size equals more or less that of Western Europe, see map). Noteworthy, when decapitated bodies are found ordinary people as well as the authorities immediately think of a ‘ritual crime’.
Also in the case reported below the suspicion of a ritual killing arose soon after the discovery of the headless bodies. Roaming armed groups could be responsible for the killings. Three persons have been arrested and are being interrogated.
According to the article below, suspects in the DRC are often questioned in public before any charges are laid, with the interrogation sometimes broadcast on state television. This constitutes a clear violation of the suspects’ human rights. The rule of law and respect for human rights in the DRC are weak, to say the least (webmaster FVDK).
Ritual killings suspected as 5 headless bodies exhumed in DR Congo
Published: September 30, 2021 By: The Guardian, Nigeria
Five headless bodies have been exhumed at a house in the northeast of DR Congo, Red Cross and civil protection sources said Thursday, one of whom said that ritual killing were suspected.
Three suspects have been transferred to Bunia, capital of Ituri province, where they were publicly interrogated on Wednesday by a military spokesman, an AFP correspondent said.
Musasa Sasaka, the local representative of the government’s civil protection service, described the gruesome exhumation on Sunday, saying the decapitated heads were placed between the victims’ legs — a posture suggesting a possible “ritual crime”.
Relatives had reported the victims missing a few days before the killings in Ariwara, a town of 60,000 people in Ituri province near the borders with Uganda and South Sudan.
One of the five was a radio personality, while another was a motorbike mechanic, according to Sasaka and Franco Envi, the local Red Cross coordinator, both reached by telephone.
A few weeks earlier, the remains of a police commander were found at the same address in similar circumstances, they said.
Under questioning by military authorities in Ituri, a province that has been placed under a “state of siege” because of armed groups, one of the suspects said the killings were carried out under the effects of “spells”.
Another said they had already killed 13 people, adding: “We cut their heads off like goats” in response to a question.
The third said: “We kill those who mistreat us. I killed (a shopkeeper) who owed me money and refused to pay it.”
Suspects in the Democratic Republic of Congo are often questioned in public before any charges are laid, with the interrogation sometimes broadcast on state television.
Ariwara is a major commercial centre some 350 kilometres (215 miles) northeast of Bunia.
Children who are accused of witchcraft. Children who are abused. Children who are discriminated, punished, beaten, tortured, mutilated, killed. The following story is again one which makes you shiver, like yesterday’s article. I read the article reproduced below with growing disbelief and disgust.
As with ritualistic crimes, superstition lies at the base of this evil. It saddens to read that these children are not protected by their parents, their families, their communities, not even by the State. The protection of the weak and the poor is an obligation of the State. In the DRC the central and regional authorities fail miserably (webmaster FVDK).
Witchcraft horror sees teen attacked and accused of sorcery by own family
Gabrielle’s life was turned upside down when she found herself at the centre of a chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Published: February 23, 2020 By: Daily Record UK – Stephen Stewart
Gabrielle is like any other bright teenager. She loves learning new things, chatting with pals and watching TV.
But her life has been turned upside down after she was accused of being a child witch – by her own family.
She is one of thousands of young children and teenagers at the centre of a new, chilling witchcraft craze sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This epidemic – reminiscent of the infamous 16th century European witch hunts – has seen girls as young as four burned to death.
The Sunday Mail recently travelled to the Central African nation with Scottish charity SCIAF to see their work helping female victims of sexual violence.
As revealed in our sister paper The Daily Record, armed factions illegally mine a mineral called Coltan – used in phones and electronic devices – to finance their atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.
These mind-numbing levels of violence have plunged much of the country into the Dark Ages with economic and educational catastrophe triggering a related rise in beliefs in superstition and witchcraft.
Gabrielle is just one of a skyrocketing number of kids facing accusations of sorcery.
The 15-year-old said: “I felt like a princess when I was at school. I was first in my class and I was very proud of that.
“Then things went bad. I remember sleeping and my uncle came home and he started beating me around the head with a piece of wood.
“He beat me and beat me and beat me and then he took me to the hospital because he felt bad about what he had done.
“He felt pity and they told him at the hospital not to beat me because I might die. I do not want to stay at home any more because they plan to kill me or leave me to the bandits.
“People go into churches and say I am a witch. They say that it is because of me that they have death and misery in their family. I don’t know why they say these evil things and abuse me.”
SCIAF is helping to fund various projects in the Bukavu archdiocese to help women victims of sexual violence.
These projects often deal with other vulnerable people such as Gabrielle and other children accused of witchcraft.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in Africa, according to the UN, but until recently, violent allegations were not usually aimed at children.
There are now alarming numbers of killings of children accused of being “sorcerers” and a growing phenomenon of witchcraft accusations against children and adolescents.
The main power attributed to child witches is the ability to inflict harm from the invisible world to the visible.
This could consist of transmitting an illness to a relative who must be “sacrificed” with fellow witches.
Children are accused of causing diarrhoea, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS, and the fatal consequences that may follow.
They are also often suspected of bringing about general misfortune, poverty, unemployment, failure and bereavement.
Gabrielle’s dad Vincens – who is blind and battles ill health – was even one of her accusers.
Victims are now trying to rebuild their lives through SCIAF and local partners at the Centre Olame Bukavu which seeks to defend the human rights of women and girls.
Sciaf launches the WEE BOX Big Change appeal this week, which will help vulnerable women and girls.
Gabrielle now often feeds her father, 55, and helps him get around. He said: “I know now these were very bad things. When she was forced out of the home, she had to sleep outside.
“I was living in ignorance and believing in ignorant things. As a Christian, I can only ask for forgiveness. My whole family have went to Gabrielle and said, ‘Please forgive us for these bad things we did and the awful superstitions we believed in’.
“I was sad when she went away and lived outside. As a father, there are things you do through ignorance but you then regret your weakness and ignorance. I felt pity and regret and wanted to find her.
“Through this centre, I have seen how I went wrong. Now, if neighbours or someone else say things about my daughter, I don’t accept it as I can’t allow these things.”
Lisette, 14, is another victim of the witchcraft craze. She said: “I don’t like staying with my family. I suffer a lot when I stay there. I don’t feel well at home because they hit me and say bad things about me.
“If I try to do the dishes, they hit me and say, ‘Don’t touch those things because you will kill us’. They make me isolated and force me to stay outside. I want to be a nun to stop these things and make people live better lives.”
Captain Innocent Rutema Baguna is a police officer who has seen the horrors of the epidemic.
Dad-of-10 Innocent, 54, who became a police officer in 1998, said: “I have witnessed horrible things. One of the worst was when I saw a girl who was four and was accused of being a witch.
“She was burned alive as people had accused her and then put her in a house and then set it on fire. I can never forget that. I do my best to protect the children.
“It can be a dangerous job as you have to go to places to interview people where the rebels are very active.
“My work is a matter of sacrifice but I am an orphan, my mother died when I was only six.
“So, now that I am a father, it is very important that I do my best to protect and help the children. Our future depends on it.”
SCIAF’s chief executive Alistair Dutton has just returned from DR Congo.
He said: “The lives of thousands of poor, vulnerable women and girls are being destroyed by sexual violence and exploitation.
“They need our help. SCIAF and our partners are on the ground providing medical care, counselling, legal aid and support so they can recover and rebuild their lives.
“But the need is great. I’d ask everyone to please give what they can so we can do more to help women and girls in need.”
As the Sunday Mail team left, Gabrielle shyly handed us a drawing she had been working on.
Her poignant message reads: “May peace reign around the world but especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
With 2.4 million square kilometers, at least 250 ethnic and language groups and a total population of nearly 100 million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of Africa’s giants. The following map illustrates the real size of the DRC.
The number of people living with albinism in the DRC is unknown, but they are a vulnerable group, sometimes hunted down as animals, like in neighboring Central and Southern African countries. In the article below an albino woman, Lisa, narrates her story, how she escaped from being murdered. She was also sexually abused. Lisa lives in a remote area of South Kivu, an administrative region bordering Rwanda and Burundi. Much of the article focuses on sexual violence and unfortunately Lisa’s experiences are shared by many other women in the DRC.
People living with albinism are discriminated and enjoy even less protection from the State than other Congolese citizens. Superstition, witchcraft, lack of protection, human rights violations, ritual murder, sexual abuse. Read Lisa’s story and shiver. (webmaster FVDK).
Sex abuse survivor reveals kidnapper wanted to kill her and use her bones in witchcraft
Lisa – an albino who lacks pigmentation in her hair, eyes and skin – tells the Record how a man lured her away from home in the Congo so he could murder her and perform magic rituals with her remains.
He wanted to butcher her and use her bones in magic ceremonies.
Sexual abuse survivor Lisa – an albino who lacks pigmentation in her hair, eyes and skin – is quietly telling how a man wooed her, expressing his undying love before luring her away from home to murder her and perform rituals with her remains.
Her delicate features remain impassive as she recounts her horrific ordeal. Her condition – which affects the production of melanin, the pigment that colours skin, hair and eyes – can be a gruesome death sentence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Daily Record and Sunday Mail have run a series of hard-hitting stories this week after we travelled there to uncover the reality for women in the country once dubbed the “rape capital of the world”.
According to the Home Office, 40 per cent of women in the area we visited – South Kivu – have suffered sexual violence.
Before she was kidnapped, Lisa had already suffered. The 22-year-old has one child born of rape. She was attacked when she was 18 as she worked in the fields around her village.
Often, women like Lisa have to be treated in poorly-equipped hospitals where doctors have to perform gynaecological surgery using the light of their mobile phones thanks to the frequent power cuts.
She said: “I was in the field working when I was raped. A man came and forced himself on me and I got pregnant. I gave birth to a boy. At first, when he was born, he was unwell but now he is fine and I love him very much.”
In DRC, there are many mothers who became pregnant after being attacked.
In the eyes of the law, their children do not exist but, thanks to SCIAF, Scotland’s Catholic international aid agency, they can now get a birth certificate, which gives them access to healthcare and education.
Lisa, who lives in a remote area of South Kivu, added: “Albino people like me are often discriminated against here. There are people who say that albinos can work magic. People point at me in the village and say bad things.
“One day, a man came to my village and he was very nice to me. He said he had fallen in love with me and he talked me into going on the bus with him to the city of Bukavu. He took me to a house and left me there.
“Another man came and asked me if I knew the other man. I had to admit that I didn’t really know him that well. It was then that he told me the other man was bad and trafficked albino people.
“He wanted to kill me and use my bones in witchcraft. I left as soon as I could and went back to my own village. Things are better now. I did not go to school and I can’t read or write but I would like my boy to study and do great things.”
Lisa has been supported by the generosity of Scottish people through SCIAF, which supports local projects promoting women’s rights, gender equality and provides services to the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Gran Sylvia, 41, is another woman who has survived sexual abuse and is now receiving support through SCIAF.
She was abducted by rebel gangs and had to leave behind her two-month-old baby.
She was forced to become the “wife” of a rebel commander and was abducted for four years. During this time, her baby and mother had died and her husband had remarried.
She was left traumatised and now receives counselling, seeds, tools and training in how to grow food to feed the family and sell any surplus.
Sylvia said: “They made me walk and they hit me on the back with the butt of their guns. I left everything. If you said you were tired, they would say, ‘OK, you want to rest?’ and they would shoot you.
“I saw two people shot like this. We were all afraid. Those who refused to have sex were killed and their bodies fed to the pigs. I saw so many people die.
“This life was the worst.”
Thanks to the support of Scots through SCIAF, things have turned around. She added: “The counselling helped very much. After this, I still felt hurt but not as badly as before.
“I say, show me the one who brought this programme here and I could kiss them. Whenever I hear SCIAF is visiting, I feel happy.”
SCIAF funds medical care and surgery for women who have suffered sexual violence.
The rape epidemic means that doctors at Katana hospital are now world experts in fistula surgery despite the basic conditions.
Dr Michael Chanikire, 38, said: “When I work with these women, I think they could be my mother, wife or sister. It hurts to see people hurt in these ways. They are often traumatised by their suffering.
“I have worked in Europe and one of the main medical issues there is cancer but here we see a lot of fistula problems caused by the trauma of rape and sexual violence. There are times when we have no electricity and we have to use the lights on our mobile phones to perform surgery.
“Women fear coming here as there are many rebels in the area and they will know she has come for treatment and they know she will be asked about what has happened to her.
“Sometimes, it feels like we doctors have come through hell dealing with the things we have to do. It is rewarding too, though. My mother sees me wearing my white coat and she feels so proud of me.
“She knows I am doing my best to help women and that makes her very happy.”
David Wroe wrote an astonishing article on child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or Congo-Kinshasa, as it is also called (to distinguish it from its neigbour, Congo-Brazzaville). As the author describes, these youngsters ‘were tricked into fighting, forced to perform brutal rituals, and killed by the thousand in battle.’ Unfortunately, this is not unique for the DRC.
‘Meet the child soldiers who have helped fuel the world’s longest running conflict.’
We will not reproduce here the entire article, which is highly recommended literature, but will just focus on the phenomenon which is the focus of the current website: superstition, ritualistic killings and the absence of the rule of law. (webmaster FVDK)
Magic, murder and the lost boys of Congo’s long war
Published: December 23, 2018 By: David Wroe
At night, the boys of Congo’s children’s militia would take the heads of the soldiers they had killed and place them in a ritual circle around the campfire.
Then they would mock them.
Belittling the heads of their enemies made boys such as 15-year-old Victor* feel powerful and brave.
He was part of a group of youngsters who brought down a government soldier one night in March last year in the city of Kananga in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They let him shoot until his rifle ran out of bullets, then they charged him with machetes, sharpened sticks and garden hoes. Victor says he was given the job of cutting the dead soldier’s head off.
“The commander of the camp said I had caught someone who was very strong. And when we caught him he was no longer very strong and they started laughing at the soldier, saying, ‘Show us now how strong you are,’” Victor recalls.
What they did next cranked up their courage up to a frenzy.
The boys rolled the head into the embers of the “Tshiota”, the holy campfire. After the man’s skull had burned, the commander made Victor collect the ash, grind it into a fine powder and mix it with wine.
“Then they gave it to us to drink,” Victor says. “You become furious and can fight without fear. That is the way it was.”They call it “manga” – the magic that made them invincible.
Victor, whose name has been changed, is one of thousands of children recruited into militias that rose up in the southern DRC region of Kasai in 2016 against a corrupt, neglectful and repressive government.
In a region where families are large and poor, where the social fabric is threadbare and where government services barely exist, it is easy to convince or coerce children to join armed groups. Their recruitment is helped by a widespread belief that arcane rituals – sometimes involving cannibalism – confer magical powers that prevent their being harmed in battle.