The following article warrants three comments. First, accusing someone of ritualistic activities – worse, ritualistic murder – without sufficient grounds is a dangerous behavior. Not only it damages the reputation of the alleged killer but it may also easily lead to ‘jungle justice’: a mob taking the rule of law into their own hands, which is an inherent contradiction. In a country, where the rule of law exists, there is no place for mob justice.
Secondly, no accused person is guilty unless found guilty by an impartial judge in a public and transparent trial where the suspect has full access to his rights including the right of a proper defense and the assumption of being not guilty.
However, and I come to my last point, the allegations and rumor which have damaged the good reputation of Kgosietsile Tona Mooketsi, a businessman and politician, in Botswana (below) would not have existed without a base, and – before I am misunderstood – I will make myself clear what I mean by saying this.
Published: December 22, 2021 By: Portia Mlilo – The Voice, Botswana
Former UDC Councellor denies child kidnapping rumors
The former Umbrella for Democratic Change Councillor for Mosanta ward in Mochudi Kgosietsile Tona Mooketsi is a worried man who fears for his life.
Flustered and troubled, Mooketsi walked into Voice offices on Wednesday to tell his story in an effort to clear his name after allegations that he was a ritualist started circulating in the village.
The rumour is that the 48-year-old politician who also owns a butchery is suspected to have hired hitmen to kill a child for business muti. He has since reported to Mochudi police station commander seeking protection from possible backlash from the unfounded rumours.
Speaking to The Voice Mooketsi said it started as a rumour which spread like wildfire and eventually turned into an urban legend. He said at first he ignored it until last weekend when he heard allegations that he had hired two hitmen to kill a child and the victim escaped. He said this has damaged his reputation and put his family at risk of gullible villagers who might swallow the lie hook line and sinker and seek to revenge should any child go missing.
“My fear is that, should a child go missing I would be the first suspect. I do not want to take this lightly. Just recently a businessman was accused of ritual murder in Lentsweletau, the community was angry and some burnt his property. I do not want the same to happen to me hence I reported to the police for protection. I suspect this is politically motivated by Botswana Democratic Party activists. They are cowards! In 2019 they spread a rumour that I am a cattle rustler” said Mooketsi who lost parliamentary elections to a BDP candidate in 2019.
When reached for a comment, Mochudi Station Commander Superintendent Mokuba confirmed the report. He said they however did not open a case because the police do not investigate hearsays. Mokuba said should Mooketsi name a specific person who uttered those allegations, then he would have a case of defamation of character to launch.
The reader is being warned that the following articles contain graphic details of the kidnapping and murder of a young girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, who was killed for her body parts. The gruesome crime took place in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) in South Africa in January 2018. The kidnapping of the young innocent girl of only 13 years old and her gruesome fate not only shocked the residents of Witbank, as illustrated by the tweet below, but shocked the entire nation and was widely covered in the press, as illustrated by the news articles below describing the related events in the past three years (2018-2021).
I reported earlier on the murder of Gabisile Shabane, who was abducted together with her 15-months old cousin: on April 30, 2018 (South Africa: ‘Fake sangoma murderers’ target albino body parts for rituals) and August 23, 2019 (South African teacher admits to killing teen with albinism for ritual purposes). Again, I wish to commend the South African authorities for their swift action to apprehend and prosecute the suspects and also I wish to congratulate the press in South Africa for its extensive coverage of this important trial. Only by raising the awareness of the general public that these crimes have no place in the 21st century and a stiff warning to traditional healers, sangomas and others that their criminal acts will no longer remain unpunished can we end these barbaric crimes against humanity and the violation of peoples’ most sacred human rights: the right to live. (webmaster FVDK).
South Africa: Blood of murdered girl with albinism used for ‘cleansing’, says state witness
Published: October 11, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A state witness has given shocking testimony in the trial of three men implicated in the murder of Gabisile Shabane, a young girl with albinism from Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) who was abducted and murdered in January 2018, allegedly for her body parts.
The three accused are Thokozani Msibi — a traditional healer originally from Eswatini who lived and practised in Emalahleni and the alleged mastermind behind the plot — Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize.
A fourth accused, Mfanasibili Gamedze, died behind bars while waiting to be extradited to SA from Eswatini, while a fifth accused, Josiah Thubane, pleaded guilty to his part in the murder in 2019. He is already serving his sentence.
The state witness, who is not being named and is under witness protection, was present when Shabane was murdered, dismembered and buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan, near Pretoria.
TimesLIVE is referring to him as Mr X.
Delivering his testimony to the high court sitting in Middelburg, Mr X said he was there when Shabane was forced to drink a beer laced with brake fluid and also some dagga before her killing. Mr X said he had taken part in rituals which were performed using Shabane’s body parts and blood.
Mr X had begun delivering his testimony last week. Continuing on Monday, he told the court his version of the events that unfolded at a farm in Cullinan when Shabane was killed and buried.
“Mr Msibi closed the hole [shallow grave where Shabane was buried] while Mr Gamedze was busy with the plastic which contained the parts. It was then that Msibi said now is the time for us to do a cleansing ritual on ourselves,” Mr X told the court.
“I was told that it was time for me to cleanse, so my mom could get well and all our things could go OK. We then all took off our clothes. We cleansed with the contents of the bucket.”
The bucket had contained a mixture of muthi, water and Shabane’s blood. Msibi took some muthi and sprinkled it onto the grave, speaking some words as he did this.
Mr X told the court that after dressing, as they were walking back to a house on the farm, Msibi stopped them and said, “Men, can everything that has happened here stay between us — no matter what the situation is, it should be kept between us.”
“He was referring to the killing of Gabisile and the removal of her body parts. He pleaded with me and also made reference to Mkhize [who allegedly had driven them from Witbank after Gabisile’s abduction], saying that even though we did not partake [in the killing], we should keep this secret to ourselves,” said Mr X.
“I promised him that I would never disclose anything. He said if we ever spoke about this, we would get to see the full might of his muthi.”
On the way back to the house, they covered their tracks and used soil to cover some blood spatter from Shabane that had been shed along the way.
Mr X said he had dug three holes and covered them again, which he hoped would act as a decoy to ensure that Shabane’s body would never be found.
The men went back to the house, where Mr X cooked a meal for them to eat. Mr X said it was during this time that he had told Msibi that he needed to go back to Witbank because he was working from 2pm. He was employed at a petrol station.
“He said I should stop complaining and that there was no need for me to go back to my work because from then on, I was rich,” Mr X told the court.
Mkhize, who had earlier left the men at the farm, returned with plates of takeaway food, gave it to Mr X, Mkhize and Gamedze. They then packed their belongings, including a bucket that had contained the plastic bag with the body parts and a maroon traditional cloth, into the car.
They headed back to Witbank, where the men resided, but along the way an argument ensued.
“An argument ensued after Msibi said to Mkhize that my ugly face shouldn’t fool him into believing I was brave, because I had been so afraid and would not even come close when they were dismembering the body.
“I asked Mkhize whether he would have gone to that scene. He replied that I should ask Msibi what he did in Cape Town,” said Mr X, suggesting that he was capable of it.
“Mkhize made comments and asked what am I good at in life because I can’t even drive. This resulted in silence in the car. We proceeded with our journey back to Witbank. On our drive, Msibi opened the window and began speaking out that he is summoning all the sick to come to his place of practice.”
Mr X said once they reached Witbank, he headed to his brother’s house, leaving Gamedze and Msibi behind. Mkhize left the men at Msibi’s house and also went home.
Mr X was asked to elaborate on how he knew the second accused in the matter, Mhlanga. He told the court that he had met Mhlanga with Mkhize one morning after he had knocked off from work.
“I went to Msibi’s house and found accused two there with other guys. They were travelling in a sky-blue Hyundai ix35. Msibi had called me to come and join them, saying they were having a traditional steam and had been steaming throughout the night. I went to take off my uniform and returned to the place where they were.
“I found them sitting in the indumba [traditional hut where healing and consultation is done]. They were speaking into emptied pumpkins while they steamed. They were talking [about] their dreams and wishes into these hollowed out pumpkins. That is all I know about him.
“Msibi once made mention of him in the past, referring to him as Knowledge, saying he is organising for him to get an albino in the Mhlanga area,” said Mr X.
Continuing his testimony, Mr X explained how days later, the police had descended on the premises where Msibi had practised. On this particular day, Msibi and another man had come to the garage and Mr X had asked for a lift from them back home. He said upon entering the vehicle, he was met by a putrid smell. When he opened the window, Msibi would close it.
“When we were about to arrive close to Msibi’s house, I asked if I could get out. We could see a lot of police there. Police were searching his yard and indumba. He went there and joined them and I watched from the street. They didn’t search his car and left soon thereafter,” Mr X said.
Mr X said a few days later, he went to Msibi’s place to ask about what the police had wanted.
“On the smell in the car — Msibi said it was because they had been to Cullinan to fetch the body of the child [that day]. It was because they had been told by a traditional healer from KwaZulu-Natal that the rituals they had done would not work … The healer had said he wanted the skull of the child [to make their ritual work] and they went there to fetch the body and the rest of the skull.”
He told the court that on the day of the police search, they had neglected to search the car which had contained the girl’s body. Msibi said this was proof of the power of his muthi, he said.
Mr X was arrested and soon thereafter turned state witness, giving a voluntary statement where he confessed to his part in the killing.
Shabane was taken at gunpoint along with her 15-month-old nephew, Nkosikhona, from their home in Hlalanikahle in January 2018.
Nkosikhona had been mistaken for another child with albinism living in the same home. When the abductors discovered their mistake, they tossed his body over a bridge along the N4. His decomposing body was found in a swamp. (Also see below, February 21, 2018 – webmaster FVDK)
More background reports on the ritual murder of Gabisile Shabane
Warning: Some readers may find the following articles disturbing because of their graphic contents (webmaster FVDK)
Albinism muti trial: Traditional healer’s second defence lawyer quits
Published: March 3, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Whatever came out during consultations between a Legal Aid lawyer and the man alleged to have plotted and carried out the butchering of Gabisile Shabane was enough to make the lawyer make a U-turn on representing him in the case.
Shabane, a 13-year-old girl from Emalahleni (Witbank) with albinism, was kidnapped at gunpoint together with her 15-month-old nephew, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, from her family home in January 2018.
Her body was mutilated and some of her organs, including her genitals, ovaries, arms and head, were removed. Her killing was believed to have been muti-related.
Ngwenya was dumped in a swamp next to the N4 highway.
On Wednesday, following a two-hour consultation with traditional healer Thokozani Msibi, lawyer Werner Smit told the high court sitting in Middelburg that his mandate with Msibi had been terminated. He would not disclose the reasons for this.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni expressed his frustration.
Mpolweni told the court this was not the first time Msibi had changed a Legal Aid lawyer.
He said he was not sure whether this was a tactic being used by Msibi to delay the proceedings, adding that Legal Aid may not have another lawyer to offer him.
Judge Heinrich Brauckmann granted Smit’s application for withdrawal.
Msibi maintained he had not fired Smit.
“The first attorney I had, I did not terminate his mandate. At the last proceedings, he said he would attend to me after he had assisted someone else but he never came back to me,” said Msibi.
“With Mr Smit, I never terminated his mandate. We were just disagreeing on facts. I tell him this and he tells me something else. He is the one who I said he should tell the court he is not going to proceed with assisting me,” Msibi told the court.
Brauckmann said he hoped Msibi was not taking chances with the court.
“I am not going to take games. We are here to find the truth but if you are going to play games, this court is not going to take it,” he warned Msibi.
Outside court, a string of witnesses, including Gabisile’s mother and her sister, who is the mother of Nkosikhona, and a group of people from far as Swaziland had been waiting and hoping the matter would proceed.
Part of the prosecution team’s frustration stemmed from the fact that the witnesses from Swaziland had initially been scheduled to take the stand this week and return to their home country by Friday. The case, however, was postponed to Friday when it would be known whether Msibi would be granted another lawyer.
Mpolweni told the court Legal Aid had said the first two lawyers granted to him were his right but a third would simply be a privilege.
On Monday, the trial had also been delayed, but this was because the vehicle transporting Msibi to the court from Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria had broken down 40km from the court.
Msibi is an integral part in solving Shabane’s murder. Some of her body parts were allegedly found at his home days after she went missing.
He is set to be trialled alongside two other men, Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize.
Another accused, Mfanasibili Gamedze, who like Msibi was originally from Swaziland, has since died. Gamedze was being held in police custody in Swaziland and died while awaiting extradition back to SA. The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately disclosed but are expected to be addressed during the trial.
This matter has already seen two men jailed.
The first was Sabelo Khubeka. At the height of the search for Shabane and her nephew, after their disappearance in 2018, Khubeka had lied about having knowledge of the whereabouts of the children. He tried to extort money from their family when he demanded a ransom. He was traced to Vosloorus, arrested and upon questioning found to have no clue about the missing children. He was jailed for five years.
The second is Josiah Thubane, a qualified teacher-turned-struggling businessman. Thubane, who claimed to be haunted by his deeds, confessed to his part in killing Shabane, admitting it was a muti killing. He had allegedly been told that getting the body parts of a person with albinism could assist in boosting his struggling business.
He 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. He was handed two life terms for the killings.
Thubane said Ngwenya was an unintentional casualty in the matter. The 15-month-old was mistaken for another child in Shabane’s home who also had albinism. Once they had noticed their error in taking Ngwenya, he was dumped over a bridge on the N4 where he drowned in a river.
Shabane and Ngwenya’s bodies were found on February 20 2018.
Ngwenya’s body had already decomposed in the water. The post-mortem report said “no anatomical cause of death found”.
With Shabane, her post-mortem report concluded “cannot [be] determined” because of her missing organs.
Accused in case of murdered teen with albinism dies before trial
Published: March 1, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
One of the people implicated in the murder of Emalahleni (Witbank) teenager Gabisile Shabane and her cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya has died before going on trial.
“There was a fourth accused who we were hoping and praying we could extradite from Swaziland. But his counsel has since indicated that he passed on. He is the fourth accused in the matter,” said prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni.
The circumstances surrounding Gamedze’s death were not immediately disclosed but are expected to be addressed during the trial.
Only two of the remaining three accused stood in the dock on Monday.
Mpolweni told the court the vehicle which had been transporting Thokozani Msibi to court from Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria had broken down about 40km from court.
Proceedings were postponed in his absence, with a new trial start date set for Wednesday.
Msibi, a traditional healer, was believed to be the mastermind behind the killing of Shabane. Some of her body parts were found at his home. Like Gamedze, he was originally from Swaziland but has since resided and practised in Emalahleni.
The other accused are Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize, both from Emalahleni.
This matter has already seen two men jailed. The first was Sabelo Khubeka. At the height of the search for Shabane and her nephew, after their disappearance in 2018, Khubeka had lied about having knowledge of the whereabouts of the children. He tried to extort money from their family as he demanded a ransom.
At the time, Brig Leonard Hlathi said a team investigating the matter turned their focus to tracking down Khubeka who was traced to Vosloorus in Gauteng. He was arrested and upon questioning found to have no clue about the missing children. He was jailed for five years.
The second is Josiah Thubane, a qualified teacher-turned-struggling businessman. Thubane, who claimed to be haunted by his deeds, confessed to his part in killing Shabane, admitting it was a muti killing.
He 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. He was handed two life terms for the killings.
He clarified that Ngwenya was an unintentional casualty in the matter. The 15-month-old was mistaken for another child in Shabane’s home who also had albinism.
Once they had noticed their error in taking Ngwenya, he was dumped over a bridge on the N4 where he drowned in a river.
The state’s case is that Thubane had been introduced to the so-called powerful muti-man Msibi by Mhlanga, along with his business partner.
Thubane and his business partner were accompanied by Mhlanga to go for a consultation with Msibi. At the time, Gamedze was also present.
In his confession, Thubane told the court he was advised by Msibi to bring him a person with albinism to boost his struggling rental property business.
Msibi had known of Gabisile and another child living in the same home who had albinism and apparently informed them of this.
Thubane, Mhlanga, Msibi and Gamedze later met to hash out and execute the kidnapping plan. They broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle in January 2018, pointed firearms at the family and fled with the children.
Gabisile’s body was later found in a shallow grave in Cullinan, Pretoria. Several of her body parts, including her genitals, heart, liver and left arm had been dismembered.
Delivering her judgment back in 2019, judge Segopotje Mphahlele said the crimes were clearly planned.
“He admitted that when they finally found the children, he … knew his dream of having a flourishing business was about to be realised,” she said of Thubane.
Mphahlele said the children had suffered a gruesome death at the hands of unscrupulous men who were blinded by greed and the love of money.
“People living with albinism face discrimination and stigma. They face a more severe form of violence. The attacks have several root causes, including ignorance, long-standing stigma and the most disgusting is the harmful practices emanating from manifestations in some beliefs in witchcraft,” ruled Mphahlele.
On counts of housebreaking and kidnapping, Thubane was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each. On the double murder charges, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for each and to three years for possession of a firearm.
The now deceased Gamedze had also played in integral part in Shabane’s killing. She had been kept at his home after her kidnapping and it is believed that it was he, Msibi and another person, Thulani Thobela, who butchered the girl.
Thobela turned state witness after his arrest.
The state says that after Shabane was dismembered and buried, Msibi had performed rituals on Mhlanga, Mkhize — their driver, Thubane and his business partner Fantjie Khumalo.
Mkhize was alleged to have been brought on board after Shabane’s kidnapping.
Days later, Msibi, Gamedze and another national from Eswatini returned to the plot where Shabane’s body was buried in a shallow grave. This time, they removed her head and arms and reburied her in the same grave.
After an extensive search, Shabane and Ngwenya’s bodies were found on February 20 2018. Ngwenya’s body had already decomposed in the water. The postmortem report said: “no anatomical cause of death found”.
With Shabane, her postmortem report concluded “cannot [be] determined” because of her missing organs.
Double life sentence for teacher who killed teen with albinism for muti
Published: August 23, 2019 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A man with a degree in teaching who admitted to abducting and killing a teen living with albinism, believing the deed would boost his business, was handed two life sentences by a Mpumalanga court on Friday.
Themba Thubane appeared in the Middelburg High Court after pleading guilty to seven charges.
Thubane and accomplices broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga, in 2018.
The group kidnapped Gabisile Shabane, 13, and her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya. Both children were then killed and Gabisile’s body was later found with body parts missing. Her killing was muti-related.
Judge Segopotje Mphahlele said, in handing down judgment, that the crimes were clearly planned.
“The accused and … the others took a decision to travel to Witbank to the house where they could find a person living with albinism. [An accomplice] provided them with the layout of the house. They further knew that the people who were living in that house were the most vulnerable. It was an old lady, her daughter and some children,” she said.
Mphahlele revealed that an axe was used to break the windows to gain entry into the house. The judge said Thubane, in his plea, claimed he had forgotten some details of the robbery, but recalled some.
“He admitted that when they finally found the children, he … knew his dream of having a flourishing business was about to be realised,” she said.
Mphahlele said the children had suffered a gruesome death at the hands of unscrupulous men who were blinded by greed and the love of money.
“The people living with albinism face discrimination and stigma. They face a more severe form of violence.”
“The attacks have several root causes, including ignorance, longstanding stigma and the most disgusting is the harmful practices emanating from manifestations in some beliefs in witchcraft,” ruled Mphahlele.
On counts of house breaking and kidnapping, Thubane was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each. On the double murder charges, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for each and three years for possession of a firearm.
Mphahlele said the behaviour of the accused showed a lack of remorse.
“The behaviour of the accused at all material times is indicative of the lack of repentance. Genuine remorse must be distinguished from self pity…” added Mphahlele.
Clapping and joyful cheers could be heard moments after the judgment was handed down.
Three co-accused have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020.
Teacher to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby
Published: August 20, 2019 By: Nonkululeko Njilo – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A teacher in Mpumalanga who admitted killing a teen who had albinism for muti, as well as her baby cousin, will soon learn how long he will spend behind bars.
Sentencing proceedings against Themba Thubane were expected to commence on Friday in the Middelburg high court.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that Thubane had pleaded guilty to seven charges.
Provincial NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the man admitted to killing Gabisile Shabane, 13, for muti purposes, along with her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
The two children were abducted from a home in Vosman near Emalahleni on 28 January 2018.
The toddler did not have albinism and was killed by drowning after being thrown into a river.
Police said in a statement the court heard through Thubane’s guilty plea that Gabisile was killed before being decapitated and chopped up for her body parts. Her remains were buried in a shallow grave at Cullinan in Gauteng.
Thubane’s co-accused, Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga, have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020. The case is set down until June 12. The trio remain in custody.
More than a year since their 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.
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 – TimesLIVE, South Africa
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.
‘Let’s burn this court!’ Outrage as alleged killers of albino girl is postponed again
Published: August 14, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
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 he‚ 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.
‘They know where her mom lives’ – Trio linked to murder of albino girl denied bail
Published: April 17, 2018 By: Tankiso Makhetha – TimesLIVE, South Africa
The three men accused of the kidnapping and murder of a 13-year-old girl with albinism have been denied bail in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize‚ Themba Thubane and Knowledge Mhlanga allegedly broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga‚ on January 28‚ where they kidnapped and later murdered Gabisile Shabane and her 15-month-old cousin‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
Msibi was arrested in February and denied bail in the same court on March 6.
A fifth suspect‚ Thulani Thobela turned state witness following his arrest.
In an affidavit he drafted‚ Thobela alleged that Gabisile was kidnapped and murdered with the purpose of harvesting her body parts by Msibi‚ Thubane and Mhlanga.
Magistrate Darleen Venter said by granting bail to the trio‚ it could jeopardise investigations as Shabane’s missing body parts are yet to be discovered.
“Insofar as the intimidating witnesses‚ the court knows that the mother of the deceased‚ who is also an eyewitness in the matter‚ has been attending court proceedings and has been seen by the applicants. They know where she lives and that could endanger her life‚” Venter said.
“If indeed the applicants know where the remaining body parts are‚ they may go back and destroy them‚ rendering the state’s case weak and interfering with investigations.”
She said the applicants failed to show the court that the state’s case was weak in light of the evidence brought against them.
Venter postponed the matter until June 1 for further investigations.
It was heard in court that Thubane and Mhlanga‚ who allegedly run an illegal private college‚ sought the help of Msibi – traditional healer – in making their business flourish.
Shabane’s remains were found in a shallow grave in Cullinan‚ east of Pretoria‚ while Ngwenya was found on the side of the N4 Highway where he was dumped after being killed.
Three more suspects arrested for abduction, murder of Witbank children
Published: March 1, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Police have arrested three more people in connection with the kidnapping and murder of two children in Witbank‚ Mpumalanga.
The 13-year-old girl Gabisile Shabani was an albino and was believed to have been murdered for her body parts. Her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ was allegedly mistaken for another child from the same household who also has albinism.
The arrests happened on Wednesday‚ bringing the total number of suspects to four‚ said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi. He said the trio‚ Thulani Thobela‚ aged 26‚ Donie Cavin Boshielo‚ aged 22‚ and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize‚ aged 26‚ had already appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
“Police have previously reported that certain men broke into a house on 28 January 2018‚ and kidnapped the above-mentioned children. A manhunt for the suspects and a search to locate the children were instituted‚ which led to the arrest of the first suspect‚ Thokozani Msibi‚ aged 32‚ who has already appeared at the same court‚” said Hlathi.
“Through further probe‚ police also managed to locate the lifeless bodies of the two children at Cullinan and along the N4 Highway respectively.”
Gabisile’s mutilated body had been buried in a shallow grave while Nkosikhona had been thrown into a swamp. The trio will be joining Msibi in the dock on March 6. They face charges of murder and two counts of kidnapping.
Policeman reveals horror he found at sangoma’s premises
Published: February 28, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
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.
Suspect appears in connection with kidnapped and murdered Witbank children
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
The suspect arrested in connection with the kidnapping of two children who were taken from their home in Hlalanikahle and later found dead appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
“He was remanded in custody pending a bail application which is scheduled for February 26 2018‚” said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
“Thokozani Msibi was not asked to plead. The investigation regarding further suspects is underway‚” he added. Msibi was arrested on Tuesday night and charged with kidnapping.
Additional charges of murder could soon be added‚ Hlathi said.
On Wednesday morning‚ police discovered the bodies of two children in separate locations‚ believed to be those of the missing children‚ Gabisile Shabani and Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
They were reported missing on January 28 after three armed gunmen broke into their home and forcibly removed them.
At the time‚ Shabani’s mother told TimesLIVE that she believed the people who took her daughter and grandson were not South African nationals because of their accent when they spoke English.
Another relative said they believed Gabisile had been taken because she was an albino. They also told TimesLIVE they believed the toddler‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ had been mistaken for another toddler who was in the house at the time who also suffered from albinism.
Hlathi said one of the children’s 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.
Hlathi would not immediately confirm whether any of the two bodies had been mutilated.
Msibi lives in the same neighbourhood as the children.
As news of his arrest and the discovery of the children’s bodies spread‚ community members gathered at his house‚ wanting to torch it.
“We spoke to the community members and told them that destroying the house will amount to destroying evidence‚” said Hlathi.
Meanwhile the community began to mobilise in support of the family‚ arranging a protest ao the courthouse for Msibi’s next appearance.
Bodies found believed to be those of abducted Witbank children
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Two bodies believed to be those of a little 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.
Identikit released of alleged Witbank child-snatcher
Published: February 1, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Police have released an identikit of one of the men suspected to be behind the kidnapping of two children in Witbank at the weekend.
The man was believed to have been part of a three-man gang that forcefully entered a house in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ and made off with Gabisile Shabani and her 15-month-old nephew at gunpoint.
TimesLIVE had on Wednesday spoken to the family who said they believed that all three attackers were foreign nationals.
By Thursday‚ the police investigations were yet to lead any results.
Community members‚ mostly comprising of school children embarked on a march calling for the release of the two child
“Gabisile is living with albinism and it is suspected that the three men who broke into their home in Hlalanikahle‚ also targeted Nkosikhona (the toddler) whom they misttok for another baby in the family who also lives with albinism‚” she said in a statement.
“Cases of kidnapping of people living with albinism are rife in Tanzania‚ and lately in KwaZulu-Natal – and there has been a surge of cases of kidnapping in general here in Emalahleni. But we suspect that the kidnapping of these two children is related to superstitious belief. I hope that police will apprehend those behind the kidnapping‚” Ntshalintshali said.
“The false belief that their body parts have extraordinary powers must be eradicated‚ albinism is a genetically inherited condition‚” she added.
Anna said she had noticed a man watching her daughter as she walked back from school for several days in a row.
She had never seen the man in the area before this‚ neither had she bothered to ask why he was loitering close to her home‚ Anna’s nephew‚ Simon‚ told TimesLIVE.
“I was told that this person would stand facing the door of the house‚” Simon said.
Now the family is wondering whether the same man could have been involved in the kidnapping of the little girl and her one-year-old nephew.
In the early hours of Sunday morning‚ the 50-year-old Anna woke up to the sound of glass shattering. She went to check and found that the one window which did not have burglar bars had been broken and‚ before she knew it‚ there were three men inside her house.
“I tried to scream and ask for help but they came in and pointed a gun at me. I ran back into my room and tried to close the door but they shoved it and overpowered me‚” Anna said.
One of the attackers pointed a gun at her and covered her mouth while the other headed to the bed and grabbed Gabisile‚ who is a twin.
Gabisile had been sleeping on her bed while her twin sister‚ Khanyisile‚ slept in another room with another of Anna’s grandchildren.
“I’m not sure whether she was still asleep at the time [she was taken] because the light was still off‚” Anna told TimesLIVE. “But she didn’t scream or cry.”
SA Community Crime Watch’s Maureen Scheepers said her group had been circulating pictures of the missing girl and working with police in their investigation.
Scheepers said the little girl had been wearing only her underwear when the assailants fled with her.
As the attackers rushed out if the house‚ Gabisile’s 18-year-old sister Nompumelelo‚ who had been sleeping in a separate bedroom with her 15-month-old son‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ emerged from her room.
“I told her that these men have taken Gabisile. She said they took my child too‚” said Anna.
The family called out to neighbours for help and a manhunt ensued.
Colonel Mtsholi Bembe said they were investigating housebreaking and kidnapping cases.
Published: January 31, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A pair of cousins from Hlalanikahle in Witbank were kidnapped during an armed attack at their home at the weekend‚ police said on Wednesday.
The two are still missing. According to police‚ a 13-year-old girl and her 15-month-old cousin were taken by a three-man gang in the middle of the night on Sunday.
“According to information at police disposal‚ the trio broke a window and gained entry into the dining room of the house‚ where a 50-year-old woman is staying with her children and grandchildren‚” police said in a statement.
“Upon hearing the noise of the breaking window‚ the woman and her 18-year-old daughter came out of their rooms to investigate what was happening. They were threatened at gunpoint to be silent. The men then took two children from different rooms and vanished into the darkness.”
After the gunmen left‚ the two women headed out of their house‚ trying to raise the alarm with their neighbours.
Community members searched the area while the police were called.
“Nothing else was taken from the house except the two children whose whereabouts still remain unknown‚” said police.
A case of housebreaking and kidnapping has been opened.
President Mnangagwa was speaking on the occasion of of the National Cultural Commemoration Day. He was accompanied by ZANU PF government officials and facing traditional leaders. Mnangagwa said the values of respect and honor must forever be cherished, but ritual killings and kidnappings have no place in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans are being confronted with a surge in ritual murders of both children and adults. People who believe ‘muti’ will bring them luck, power, prestige or good health, have been ruthlessly disregarding the sanctity of life for their own interests.
It is seldom that presidents, other high ranking government officials or cultural end traditional leaders are speaking out against these gruesome and age-old practices which have no place in a modern society where respect of human life and the rule of law must be the cornerstones of everyday life (webmaster FVDK).
Stop ritual killings: President Mnangagwa
Published: May 22, 2021 By: The Herald, Zimbabwe – Fungi Kwaramba in Gokwe
ZIMBABWEANS led by traditional leaders, as the custodians of the country’s culture, should shun ritual killings and live-in peace, unity and harmony enjoying the rich cultural diversity that the nation offers, President Mnangagwa said.
This comes as the nation has in recent months been witnessing a spike in gruesome murders of children with the murderers wantonly disregarding the sanctity of life. Apart from that cases of kidnapping of children are also on the rise.
However, such practices, the President said, have no place in Zimbabwe, a unitary state that values human life, tolerance, peace and unity which are all cornerstones of national development.
In his address on the occasion of the National Cultural Commemoration Day, that is marked globally on May 21, the President said the values of respect and honour must forever be cherished.
“The values of respect and honour must be promoted while our chiefs and traditional leaders must continue to dissuade our people to shun these so-called ritual practices. The killing of our children is not acceptable,” the President said.
He added that the convergence of people from all walks of life at Chief Njelele homestead is part of the African tradition of approaching life communally and must forever be observed as it defines, not only Zimbabweans but Africans at large.
“I want to express my profound gratitude to Mambo, Chief Njelele for allowing the nation to gather here at his homestead and to share this important day with the great people of this area.
“This tradition of communities visiting one another and celebrating important events is in keeping with our African culture and tradition. As a people, let us never lose our communal approach as we continue to build peace and cohesion among our communities and within the nation,” he said.
This year National Cultural Day commemorations were held at the homestead of Chief Njelele, under the theme “Resilience in safeguarding creativity and diversity,” an apt theme that speaks to the needs to preserve the country’s rich heritage.
The President who was accompanied by Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also the ruling party Zanu PF national chairperson, Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, State Security Minister Owen Ncube, Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and other senior Government officials, toured colourful exhibitions, where traditional cuisine, medicine, and instruments were on display as Zimbabweans in their diversity showcased their creativity.
The day also saw traditional artistes entertaining the gathering that thronged Chief Njelele homestead to celebrate Zimbabwe’s culture.
“I want to commend stakeholders for the magnificent cultural exhibitions and displays we toured earlier. These demonstrate the universally recognised fact that as African people, we have rich arts, customs and practices. As we have seen today, these are expressed through crafts, clothing, cuisines, music, dance, folklore (ngano), religion and languages,” he said.
But such a history can only be preserved if it is passed from one generation to another because a people without a culture is like a tree without roots, the President added.
“In line with my Governments quest to build strong cultural identity, values and ethics, I challenge families, communities and institutions to diligently nurture a society that recognises our rich cultural heritage while embracing our diversity. These must be passed on from generation to generation.
“As one philosopher once said, ‘a people without the knowledge of their past history. Origin and culture are like a tree without roots.’ While another said, ‘to know your future, you must know your past’.”
The President also saluted First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa for the role she is playing in coming up with the National Dress Fabric and reviving the Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba.
“These programmes sustain our social cultural systems, a people premised on the African philosophy of Ubuntu/Hunhu which says, ‘I am, because you are’.
“I exhort families and communities to continue implementing these cultural practices towards protecting the youth from immoral vices and alien values,” he said.
In line with history and cultural preservation, Zimbabwe is in the process of honouring its heroes and heroines who sacrificed life and limb to defend the country’s traditional values.
“This year’s cultural commemoration entails that we also reflect on our liberation war heritage. The rich heritage interests. Research must consistently enrich studies in heritage, arts and culture with the view of informing the course for a more prosperous future. We can only ignore our history at the detriment of future generations.
“Meanwhile, I commend the youth for their determination, towards developing, publishing and broadcasting our rich liberation war heritage. This will go a long way in enriching the discussions around the country’s liberation heritage from our own.”
The President, who is also the Commander-in Chief of the Defence Forces, commended players in the arts sector for the broadcasting of the story of the iconic national heroine Mbuya Nehanda and the publication of the zography on Comrade Herbert W Chitepo, among other literal and artistic works.
“It is in this vein that on Africa Day, May 25, we will also honour and remember Mbuya Nehanda, who is one of the great authors of our revolution for national independence. I urge the youth, academia and professionals to be actively involved in the ongoing memorialisation of our heritage.
“Projects such as the establishment of the African Liberation War Museum, upgrading of our liberation battle sites, detention and restriction camps must interest our young people.
“These sites include Kamungoma in Masvingo Province, Pupu in Matabeleland North Province and Sikombela here in Gokwe District, among others.”
Meanwhile, the President promised the arts sector, which has not been spared by the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, that Government recognises the role that culture and heritage can play as a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development, national, regional and continental integration.
“To this end, the creation of an enabling regulatory and policy framework for the development and growth of the cultural and creative sector is on-going. Cabinet has since approved the enactment of the Arts and Culture Bill which seeks to promote arts and culture as a vehicle for empowerment and employment.”
It seems appropriate to start this introduction to the following article with a warning because of its graphic contents. Sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) is sometimes too gruesome to tell or to read. I’ve read a lot of articles on ritual murders in recent years and ‘ve seen many pictures, yet my stomach was turning when I read the following report on sorcery accusation-related violence. It describes horrible acts of mobs or sometimes individuals which take place not only in Africa or Sub-Saharan Africa, but in countries and regions all over the world. Common characteristics are that people are ill-informed, not or poorly educated, and have limited opportunities and no perspectives for improvement of one’s lives, in combination with a weak rule of law and often a lack of political will, as one well-informed interviewee rightly stated (see below).
The article mentions a few countries in Africa, notably Central African Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, but it does no require much imagination to add other African countries. The belief in witchcraft is widespread on the continent. This is not to say that everybody in Africa believes in witchcraft but the number of superstitious people and people who believe in witchcraft (juju, muti, money rituals) cannot be counted, that’s for sure.
‘Sorcery’ still a motive for torture, killing in 21st century
Published: April 28, 2021 By: CGTN – Sim Sim Wissgott
Two women were attacked and tortured in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby on Sunday, accused of witchcraft. They were interrogated and burned with hot irons to get them to admit to killing a woman who had died earlier in the week, local media reports said.
One managed to escape and alert the police. But this was not an isolated incident in the Pacific island nation.
Local media reported in February that six women had been accused of sorcery. Police managed to free two women in July after they were held and tortured for four days, accused of killing a villager a week earlier by removing his heart.
Attacks like these are so widespread that Papua New Guinea (PNG) actually has a term and acronym for them: sorcery accusation-related violence, or SARV.
While authorities and politicians regularly condemn these as “barbaric acts” and “uncivilized” behavior, SARV continues.
This type of violence is not limited to PNG either. Accusations of sorcery remain a very real threat in many communities around the world and claim dozens – if not hundreds – of lives every year.
Other sorcery-related killings in recent months have included a 70-year-old man in eastern Jharkhand state who reportedly practiced exorcism and sold herbal medicines; a family of five, accused of black magic after several people in their village fell ill and died; and a middle-aged man who was beheaded “on suspicion of sorcery” in neighboring Odisha state in December.
Another elderly man in Odisha was killed last month after villagers accused him of witchcraft.
“The deceased used to throw ash and some powder in front of the houses of villagers which raised doubts that he was practicing some witchcraft. In a fit of rage, some youths of the village killed him with stone and hammer and fled the spot after dumping his body in the bushes near the canal,” a police officer told local media.
Reports have emerged in recent months from South Africa, Nigeria, and Nepal of people being beaten, tortured or killed on suspicion of witchcraft. Countries like Tanzania and Ghana have also been fighting SARV for years.
There are no definite figures on how many people fall victim to SARV every year around the world. In many cases, the crimes go unreported as victims fear retribution.
The problem is significant enough that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights held an experts’ conference in 2017 to discuss ways “to end harmful practices related to witchcraft.”
There were 372 anti-sorcery attacks reported between 2013 and 2016 in PNG, according to UK charity Oxfam. In India’s Assam state, a dozen are killed every year, according to local media.
Although men can be targeted, victims of witchcraft-related violence tend overwhelmingly to be women and girls.
As a result, the issue is often paired with women’s rights and gender equality. Victims are generally among the most vulnerable members of the community. Mob mentality, lack of education and poor policing are also contributing factors.
“Sorcery-related violence stems from poor education, lack of awareness, limited opportunities coupled with deteriorating capacity for law and order and a lack of political will,” PNG’s Oro Province Governor Gari Juffa told The Guardian last year.
There have been reports of people accused of being witches after a member of their community fainted, suffered an epileptic fit, or died without warning.
A woman and her daughter were accused of sorcery in PNG earlier this month and were tortured by relatives after the woman’s husband died of COVID-19 .
Attacks are often brutal, with victims hacked to death, maimed, gang-raped, slashed with knives, burned with hot irons or hit with rocks, leaving them horribly scarred – physically and mentally – for life.
Relatives can also be targeted by association: in the case of the family of five killed in Jharkhand state in February, a middle-aged couple was suspected of witchcraft, but their son, daughter-in-law and five-year-old grandson were also murdered.
Children of alleged witches are especially seen as a threat, human rights campaigners say.
The perpetrators rarely act alone but attack their victims in groups: in the latest case on Sunday in PNG, the two women were attacked and tortured by up to 20 men.
Police often say the attackers’ identities are known to them but communities and survivors may be reluctant to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement, meaning many perpetrators get away with their crime.
Some progress has been seen. The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act was passed in India in 2015, making it a crime to accuse anyone of sorcery.
The Catholic Church’s Pontifical Mission Societies declared last year August 10 as World Day against Witch Hunts.
PNG repealed its 1971 Sorcery Act in 2013, which sanctioned sorcery-related violence. At the same time, it drafted a Sorcery National Action Plan to raise awareness about the issue and find ways to combat it.
The country even has a hotline now for anyone who may be the target of sorcery accusations.
The latest cases however have prompted concerns that sorcery-related violence may be once again spreading. While such cases are usually found in the more remote regions of PNG, last weekend’s attack occurred in the capital.
While action plans and strategies have been drafted, funding and effective implementation are still wanting, local officials say.
On November 22, Blessing Mandabva, from Zimbabwe, shared with us his view on the history of human sacrifices as well as present-day practices of this age-old ritual. His contribution was published in The Standard, a Zimbabwean Sunday newspaper. Recently, I posted other articles with African voices protesting against this phenomenon of ritualistic murders, commonly called muti murders in Southern Africa. See the Op-Ed article in the online Namibian newspaper New Era Live, entitled: ‘Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind’, posted on October 27, 2020 and an older article, dating from 2011, ‘Africa: Breaking the silence in ritual killings‘, written by Fanuel Hadzizi, also from Zimbabwe and posted on November 14, 2020.
The recent turmoil in Zimbabwe, following the death of a 7-year old boy, Tawire Makore, who was murdered for muti purposes, clearly shows that the gruesome practice of human sacrifices has not disappeared. See my October 26 posting on this ritual murder that shocked Zimbabwe.
As Blessing Mandabva describes, more people have raised their voices against muti murders including Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) president George Kandiero who distanced his association and all members from all acts of ritual killings. George Kandieo, who also mentioned the ritual murder of Tawire Makore, confirmed what I have stated repeatedly on these pages: “These ritual killings are just a tip of the iceberg (…)“.
Also the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has denounced ritually-motivated killings and issued the following statement: “The ZHRC has noted with concern the alarming rise and high frequency of ritually-motivated killings in Zimbabwe, specifically targeted at children and young people.”
What else can I add?? Read the following contribution and join the struggle against ritualistic murders and other acts based on superstition and motivated by the greed for power and/or wealth.
Warning: the following article contains graphic details of ritual murders (webmaster FVDK).
Human sacrifices, myth or reallity?
Published: November 22, 2020 By: The Standard, Zimbabwe – Blessing Mandabva
Since time immemorial, human beings the world over have pursued answers to the puzzling questions of their origins, sickness, death and after death, poverty, power, the meaning of natural phenomena such as earthquakes, diseases and accidents, among others. They have also inquired on how to protect themselves from such mysterious events. Invention of personified deities, gods and the occult sciences, witchcraft, divination and soothsaying in order to seek the protection of supernatural powers has been the order of the day. Individuals used them for protection from their enemies, to dominate others in societies be it in business, politics, churches and other religious circles to gain power and to accumulate wealth. Human sacrifice has been a phenomenon which has been passed from generation to generation albeit it appearing in various forms.
Human sacrifice is defined as the ritualised, devotedly motivated killing of human beings. It is a fundamental which is not endorsed by any state, but was once practiced by societies across the globe in the past. In this landlocked country of Zimbabwe, there is a misconception on many deaths of humans, children, women and albinos being attributed to human sacrificial rituals which are said to bring quick wealth and fortunes. Human sacrifice, especially of children, occurs frequently despite the government’s efforts to stop it. Times are tough in Zimbabwe, and people are looking for sacrifices to improve their fortunes. Hunger and starvation coupled with the purported economic meltdown which has been attributed to the economic sanctions by the ruling elite whilst those in the opposition blame the ruling elite for poor governance.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) president George Kandiero distanced his association and all members from all heinous acts of ritual killings.
He, however, said those ritual killings are mainly done by witches and witchdoctors. According to Kandiero, Zinatha has some specialists who could have been involved in the case of Tapiwa Makore to give guidance in finding a lasting solution.
“It’s rather unfortunate Tapiwa is no more, but we believe the full wrath of the law will take its course. The perpetrators must be brought to book even if they are members of our associations,” said Kandiero.
”These ritual killings are just a tip of the iceberg since a lot of sacrifices in various forms are happening in the underworld.
“Those who do such are everywhere including churches, homes and workplaces and this has to be addressed for people to live in harmony.”
Reverend John Makaniko, a United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe pastor, said: “Human sacrifice is a reality though in this contemporary world it’s now rare.
“The law has abolished human sacrifice and it’s now treated as murder.” According to him, in Christianity, only Jesus Christ was sacrificed for sins of all humanity. He becomes a sacrifice once and for all [Hebrew 10:10].
“Jesus Christ becomes a sacrificial lamb for salvation of all humanity. The human sacrifice done by individuals is for selfish reasons like riches and fame. “This human sacrifice that is shedding blood of other people for selfish ends is evil, sinful and a serious crime.”
“As Christians, we are guided by the scripture’s teachings and commandments like: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Exodus 20:13) and our social principles say, ‘life is a sacred gift’; therefore, every human life should be treated with dignity and shouldn’t be sacrificed.
“In short, human sacrifice is a devilish act that has no place in Christianity and progressive society.”
Rev Makaniko added: “In contemporary society, faith in God and appreciating the dignity of hard work will result in success and prosperity.
“The core values of the United Methodist Church clearly state that, ‘we do good, do no harm and stay in love with God’; thus human sacrifice isn’t good because it brings harm to other people and breaks relationships with God.”
According to some South African media reports, body parts can be sold for as little as R3 000 in that country.
I recall vividly growing up in a township when public transport in the form of the commuter omnibuses had just been introduced. At that age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them sweets.
The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with body parts missing. Rumours were that businesspeople were taking the children’s heads to Durban and were trading them off for taxis, kombis and grinding mills. Another unfortunate case is that of Given Flint Matapure who disappeared at Harare Exhibition Park in August 2011. The case took ages to be finalised.
Ritual killings, or human sacrifices, are committed for the purpose of taking human body parts which are said to be used to prepare charms and other traditional medicines for spiritual fortification. In some instances, ritualists and occults target vulnerable members of society such as the poor, women, children and albinos whose families often do not have the resources to demand justice.
In some African countries there is a belief that female body parts possess supernatural powers that bring good fortune or make criminals invisible to police and other authorities. Children and young people are mostly preferred since they will be having a whole lot of life to live than the elderly.
All the success which could have happened to them will now be transferred to the ritualist as the children continue to live in the underworld. It is time governments turned up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights.
Heavy sentences should be given to those who commission and carry out the ritual killings.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) denounced ritually-motivated killings.
“The ZHRC has noted with concern the alarming rise and high frequency of ritually-motivated killings in Zimbabwe, specifically targeted at children and young people,” the ZHRC statement read.
“The heinous murder and mutilation of innocent people is disheartening and should be denounced in the strongest terms by our society and nation as a whole.”
ZHRC also stated that participation in ritual killings violates Sections 48 (1), the universal human right to life, of the Constitution and other sections of international agreements on rights to human life, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The rights body called for a collective effort among authorities to end the ritual killings and urged police to undergo further training to adequately deal with issues of human rights violations.
In July 2015, a four-year old pupil from St Lucy Primary School in the Kombo area of Insiza district in Matabeleland South province was found dead with her lips, liver and other body parts missing in a suspected case of ritual murder. Her body was found mutilated in a pond. The incident struck fear into villagers who indicated that they suspected the child was killed for ritual purposes. They started escorting their children to and from school.
Legislator Pupurai Togarepi has moved a motion on the proliferation of chilling incidents of murder indicating that victims of such heinous crimes are the vulnerable and unsuspecting members of society, mostly women and children.
In another bizarre suspected ritual killing in June 2020, a 25-year-old woman, Thabelo Mazolo, had her body mutilated and stashed into a drum filled with acid in Bulawayo. Part of the body, from the waist going down, was missing while breasts and palms appeared to have been sliced off. The ritualist murder had message from a sangoma with instructions to perform on the body, it reads “you must cut yourself and spill your blood onto a mirror. Gaze into the mirror and say out loud that you are selling your soul for riches.”
The practice of ritual killing and human sacrifice continues to take place in several African countries in contravention of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other human rights instruments. In this 21st century, human beings are still being hunted down, mutilated, murdered or sacrificed for ritual purposes across the region.
Several cases of kidnapping and disappearance of persons are traced to the vicious schemes and activities of ritualists. Ritualists hunt for blood and harvest human body parts to prepare charms and magical concoctions. In some cases desperate ritualists invade cemeteries and exhume dead bodies to extract body parts, said one anonymous source.
Many cases of ritual sacrifice take place in secret locations. They are largely unreported, not investigated and go unpunished. The perpetrators and their collaborators capitalise on the prevalent irrational fear of the supernatural among Africans, and the poor and corrupt policing and justice system, to get away with these egregious violations.
Victims of ritual sacrifice are mostly minors nd vulnerable individuals who do not live to seek justice or redress or who lack the resources to seek redress if ever they survive the ordeal.
Human sacrifice is real, it is neither fallacious, frivolous nor fiction. It is a cancer which needs urgent attention and collective efforts by all stakeholders from grassroots level before it is normalised by satanic and evil forces in our societies.
The ritual murder case reported in the article below is the first one related to Angola posted on this site. This is not to say that in Angola no or only a few ritual murders are committed. In fact, little is known about the frequency of ritual or muti murders in this country. The reason for it’s under-reporting is most probably linguistic. In general, events in lusophone countries are only occasionally covered by anglophone and francophone press agencies. This does not mean that nothing noteworthy happens in these countries, on the contrary – as the case below illustrates.
The ritualistic killing took place in the nation’s capital. As described in the article below, in July 2019, a mother (32) killed her 11- year old daughter in a gruesome ritualistic act. I must apologize for presenting the article in Portuguese. Unfortunately, no translation is available though the essential message of the article is clear: a ritual murder was committed. More details will be published on this site as soon as they become available (webmaster FVDK).
Uma criança de 11 anos morreu, na terça-feira, depois de ter sido queimada por uma mulher, de 32 anos, que praticava um ritual de ocultismo, no município de Belas, em Luanda.
Em ritual de ocultismo mulher mata criança de 11 anos em Luanda
Published: July 24, 2019 By: Angola 24 horas
Uma criança de 11 anos morreu, na terça-feira, depois de ter sido queimada por uma mulher, de 32 anos, que praticava um ritual de ocultismo, no município de Belas, em Luanda.
O oficial de informação do comando provincial da Polícia Nacional, inspector Euler Matari, disse à Angop que a mulher levou o menino até a sua residência, por volta das 10 horas da manhã, no distrito da Vila Verde, bairro das Tendas, onde cometeu o homicídio.
Euler Matari disse que a criança ficou queimada quando a mulher acendeu velas vermelhas e brancas e com um liquido inflamável, ainda por se identificar, atirou para o corpo do menino, resultando em morte imediata.
“Momentos depois tentou desfazer-se do cadáver, depositando-o num contentor de lixo, mas fruto de denúncia pública e do trabalho de investigação policial foi possível a identificação e detenção da mulher”, disse Euler Matari.
A vítima não tinha qualquer grau de parentesco com a mulher e a polícia desconhece ainda se a criança morava nos arredores ou não.
Speaking at a traditional medicine day held in Giyani in 2016, the President of traditional healers association in SADC region, Dr Sylvester Hlathi, urged local traditional healers to stop ritual killings. Isn’t this remarkable – and courageous? On the one hand one could argue that apparently his appeal hasn’t prevented muti murderers in the northeastern part of the country to continue their ugly practices, on the other hand it is promising and encouraging to realize that voices are raised against these heinous crimes based on superstition and a repulsive greed for money and/or power.
Dr. Hlathi’s remarks gave me goose pimples, he spoke openly and publicly, and didn’t beat around the bush. “We as traditional healers must stop using human parts to make medicine, we must stop ritual killings as we are called to heal people not to kill people,” he said.
Kudos for Dr. Hlathi! I wonder what has become of him. (webmaster FVDK).
Traditional leaders urged to stop ritual killings
Published: September 8, 2016 By: Letaba herald – Tony Myambo
The President of traditional healers association in SADC region Dr Sylvester Hlathi has urged local traditional healers to stop ritual killings.
Hlathi was speaking during a traditional medicine day held in cheapside complex outside Giyani on Wednesday.
“We as traditional healers must stop using human parts to make medicine, we must stop ritual killings as we are called to heal people not to kill people,” said Hlathi.
He also urged traditional healers to stop raping patients telling them that they will get healed if they sleep with them.
“We must stop sleeping with our own patients telling them they will be healed only if they sleep with us, this will weaken our traditional medicine not to work as it is not human and ancestors will punish us,” he said.
He also encouraged them to go test for HIV/AIDS. “You must also go get tested, you must stop this thing of saying I don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend you must get tested so that you can also encourage your patients to go for tests because using only traditional medicine to cure this disease is not good,” he explained.
He also told them to stop giving medicine to criminals to come out of prison or charms to do crime but work with police in order to fight crime.
He however pleaded with traditional leaders to chase away fake traditional healers in their villages.
“Traditional leaders you must demand certificates of practice from these traditional healers, if they don’t have any – chase them away,” said Hlathi.
Hosi Edward Chauke, Congress of traditional leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA) in Malamulele secretary, applauded local traditional healers for coming together to celebrate traditional medicine day and uniting with one another.
“As traditional leaders we would like to acknowledge you for coming together and for celebrating our traditional medicine. I would like to assure you that as traditional leaders, we recognize you.”
Yesterday I posted an article on the sentencing to life imprisonment of four people found guilty of ritual murder in Limpopo Province, South Africa. It is not the first time that the rule of law was applied by prosecuting and sentencing a ritual murderer in Limpopo Province, a region which unfortunately is notorious for the occurrence of muti murders. In October 2015, a Mocambican man who had been apprehended in possession of body parts was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Limpopo High Court at Makhado (webmaster FVDK).
Life sentence for ritual murderer
Published: October 29, 2015 By: Letaba Herald, Matome Maila
A Mocambican man who was found in possession of body parts last year was sentenced to life imprisonment during a sitting of the Limpopo High Court at Makhado last Tuesday.
Nkovani Samson Majoko (36), originally from Mocambique, but residing a Xiphuraphuleni Settlement in Malamulele, outside Giyani was arrested in June last year after he was found in possession of a bag containing two hands and male sexual organs
The court heard that he lured the victim, John Miyambo (35), from Mocambique to South Africa with the promise of a job and then killed him and cut off the body parts to sell as muti.
He was arrested after information was received of a man trying to sell body parts in the Malamulele area.
He was found guilty on a charge of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Is it possible to something positive in the area of ritualistic killings? Maybe yes, read the following case, reproduced below. In Limpopo province, South Africa, where ritualistic murders aka muti (muthi) murders are rampant, a court has found four people accused of ritual murder guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The Thohoyandou High Court found guilty and convicted Christinah Mhlongo (56), Solomon Mqengeni Mahumani (67) and Amos Mafemani Chuma (51) for the barbaric, gruesome ritual murder of their-in-law, Hlayisani Hlungwani (26), at Hlomela village in Giyani three years ago. A fourth convict, Daniel Dzambukeri was sentenced to life imprisonment after he pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial.
I must commend the police department, the investigators, and the court judges for their work and I am happy with the outcome of their work. I will not give my opinion on the sentences, in this case life imprisonment. Judges must work independently and objectively, one must be very prudent to comment or to interfere with their work. However, I am very positive about the fact that the rule of law has been upheld. in South Africa, notably in Limpopo Province, muti murderers terrorize the population and violate people’s human rights, notably the right to live without fear and the right to live. To prosecute and sanction perpetrators of these cruel crimes is a sacred duty of the state which has an obligation to protect its citizens. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is essential to educate people telling them that killing other people motivated by superstition as a means to become rich or famous is outrageous and not acceptable.
Warning: the article below contains graphic details (FVDK).
Relatives senctenced to life for ritual murder
Published: November 18, 2020 By: Letaba Herald
Four relatives were last Thursday each sentenced to life imprisonment for the ritual murder of their in-law at Hlomela village in Giyani three years ago.
Thohoyandou High Court found guilty and convicted Christinah Mhlongo (56), Solomon Mqengeni Mahumani (67) and Amos Mafemani Chuma (51) for the murder of Hlayisani Hlungwani (26) in Nsavula village.
The fourth convict, Daniel Dzambukeri was sentenced to life imprisonment after he pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial.
The judge found that the four accused intentionally killed Hlungwani by cutting off her lips, breasts and private parts.
The heinous crime which sent shock waves in the Hlomela and Nsavula villages was found to have been motivated by greed and the love of money. All accused pleaded not guilty and showed no remorse, the judge found.
The court heard that on 17 April 2017, Daniel Dzambukeri lured his sister-in-law to get into Chuma’s Honda Ballade in order to fetch her child from her grandmother. Dzambukeri testified that when the vehicle reached Hlomela village they drove into the bushes where Hlungwani’s legs were tied to a tree.
Later all of the accused went to the scene to perform their rituals before removing some body parts.
During the ritual, the victim’s mother-in-law, Mhlongo, burned herbs naked while calling Hlungwani ancestors to accept her spirit. Dzambukeri told the court that he had committed the crime with all three accused.
He told the court that he and Mahumani held the victim down while Chuma cut the body parts with a knife. Chuma handed the parts to Mhlongo who wrapped it in a red cloth.
The killing angered villagers who vented their anger by burning down three houses and other properties belonging to the convicts.
Other family member fled the area to other provinces. In mitigation of sentence Mhlongo asked the court not to sentence her for a murder she didn’t commit.
“There was no way I could have joined men to commit such crime,” said Mhlongo.
Mahumani and Chuma also asked the court not to sentence them, they accept no responsibility for their action.
In aggravation of sentence the state advocate, Absah Madzhuta, called the elder brother of the deceased, Richard Hlongwani who testified about the impact the killing had on her child and her grandmother.
Hlungwani further said that the family was shocked, in pain and living in fear.
The death of the deceased has affected the child of the deceased in that she failed her grade.
He said that she knows that her mother was killed by a woman and men and she is now afraid of her father and visitors.
The court remarked that the crime was barbaric, where the victim fought for her life with all her energy, screaming and kicking.
She suffered a painful death, with her body parts removed whilst still alive (italics added by the webmaster).
The body parts were destined for sale.
“Although every case is decided according to its merits, this crime is very serious. The family had to bury their loved one with some of her body parts missing. The aggravating circumstances outweigh by far the mitigating factors of the accused. This type of murder is a classical barbaric one without respecting the deceased and her right to life in terms of Section 11 of the Constitution,” remarked Justice Khami Makhafola before sentencing the convicts to life imprisonment.
The director of public prosecutions, Adv Ivy Thenga welcomed the sentence and commended the investigation team together with the state Adv Absa Madzhuta for the work well done.
Below follows the link to another article related to the same barbaric crime. The graphic details of the crime committed being so shocking I have decided not to reproduce the full text here. If readers are still interested, they may click the link below but they are warned that the contents of the article are shocking and repulsive. The article describes in full detail how the victim’s body parts were cut off while she was still alive (webmaster FVDK).
The faces of evil Published: November 20, 2020 By: Zoutnet, South Africa – Andries van Zyl
Browsing on internet I found this 2011 article written by Fanuel Hadzizi from Zimbabwe. The article could have been written in the year 2000, or much earlier, and even nowadays, in the year 2020 !
I find it encouraging reading this article on a topic which it too often swept under the carpet although its main message is a sad one. The author pleads to break the silence on ritual killings in Africa and points to several cases of ritual killings in Southern Africa to warrant his plea. He concludes “It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights.”
What else can I say? Highly recommended – read ‘AFRICA: BREAKING THE SILENCE IN RITUAL KILLINGS’ by Fanuel Hadzizi, Gender Links Justice Program Officer of PeaceWomen. Peacewomen is the Women, Peace and Security Program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.
Warning: The following article contains graphic details of ritual murders (FVDK)
Ritual killings and human sacrifice happen in many, if not all countries in Africa. Cases have been reported in such countries as Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, there have been cases whereby people’s heads were found in Asian owned shops whilst in Swaziland, some politicians commissioned ritual killings so that they could win elections. The grossness of the ritual murders is quite scary to imagine as victims’ bodies are mutilated and certain body parts go missing. Needless to mention that in South Africa for instance, body parts can be sold for as little as R3000.
On 24 September, South Africa celebrated Heritage Day under the banner “celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa.” According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the theme allowed the nation to “celebrate the lasting legacy of the national liberation struggle.”
Most importantly, Heritage Day provides an opportunity for South Africans to celebrate their cultural heritage and diversity of beliefs and traditions. As a concerned resident, I also feel that this is an opportunity for us to break the silence around the negative cultural practice of ritual killings that is prevalent in society and yet violates the basic universal human right to life.
During the course of Women’s Month in August, South Africa became the ninth Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to ratify the Protocol on Gender and Development. This brought to two thirds the number of countries that have done so, and means that the Protocol is now in force.
As we also celebrate the coming into force of this crucial instrument, let us ponder what is meant by the provision that all states adopt laws and policies to protect the girl and boy child from “harmful cultural attitudes and practices in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.”
I recall vividly growing up in one township in Zimbabwe. This was just when public transport in the form of the Toyota Hiace taxi had just been introduced in the country. At that tender age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them some sweets.
The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with some body parts missing. Rumours were that business people were taking the children’s heads for instance to Durban in South Africa and were trading them off for the taxis. Weren’t we all scared!
Ritual killings or muti killings are committed for the purpose of taking human body parts which are used to prepare charms and other traditional medicines. These charms are believed to have supernatural powers which are greatly enhanced if the organs are removed whilst the victim is still alive.
In Southern Africa there is a belief that female body parts possess supernatural powers that bring good fortune or make criminals invisible to police and other authorities. Research has shown that in other countries, especially in East Africa, the breast and a woman’s private parts enhance business success, a man’s private parts are believed to increase virility whilst a tongue can smooth one’s path to a lover’s heart.
In fact, ritual killing is perceived as an act of spiritual fortification.
In an article titled New Magic for New Times: Muti Murder in Democratic South Africa, Louise Vincent (2008) says that “the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes is based in the belief that it is possible to appropriate the life force of one person through its literal consumption by another.” The victim is thus carefully chosen.
The Sowetan reported in July this year that the brother of Gladys Mogaramedi (61) killed her for her body parts. Police discovered the badly mutilated body without the private parts. I felt a very cold chill down my spine as I read through the story with shock and disbelief. Even after reading it twice I still found myself at a loss for words, trying to comprehend how a person could execute such a diabolic act moreover to a sibling without any conscience.
The South African case highlighted above is but the tip of the iceberg to some of the cultural problems that our society is still grappling with in relation to gender based violence. More often than not, these crimes evade the spotlight because they are largely unreported or recorded merely as murder. Ritualists target vulnerable members of society such as the poor, women, children, people with disabilities and albinos whose families often do not have the resources to demand justice.
It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights. Heavy sentences should be given to those who commission as well as carry out the ritual killings. It is heartening to note that in a July 2010 ruling, the High Court of Mwanza region sentenced 50 year old Kazimiri Mashauri to death. The Tanzanian court convicted him for hacking to death a 5 year old girl for muti-related purposes.
Fanuel Hadzizi is the Gender Links Justice Program Officer of Peace Women,