Oluwo Of Iwo, Osun state, Nigeria: Some traditional rulers behind ritual killings in their domains

An inspiring and powerful speech of the Oluwo of Iwo, Osun state, who is not afraid to say what’s on his mind, even if this may disturb his fellow traditional rulers. I quote: “Sadly, as we speak, no traditional ruler, as far as I know in Nigeria, is speaking against ritual killing, which is gradually becoming a norm in our present day society. If I may ask again, why are all these things going on and no king is talking about them? Are some of our kings part of these ugly game? Some kings justify so many ugly things pertaining to ritual killings in the name of customs and traditions. What culture and tradition are they talking about?

He even goes one step further, by directly accusing his fellow kings: “I know these comments will unsettle many kings, still involved in all manner of ritual killings.” Unquote. 

It is no small talk what Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi asserts – even though we we may be surprised by certain details.

We should congratulate him with his outspoken views and rejection of the heinous crimes which are the ritualistic killings in Nigeria, also known as ‘money-related rituals’.  

“Ritualism is not culture or tradition, as far as I am concerned”, according to the Oluwo of Iwo.

I sincerely hope that many traditional rulers in Nigeria will soon follow his example.

Read below what Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi had to say. 

Thank you Oluwo of Iwo!
(webmaster FVDK),

Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi 
Photo/ Facebook/ emperortelu1/ Taosandphotography

Oluwo of Iwo: some traditional rulers behind ritual killings in their domains

Published: May 19, 2019 – 3:07 am
By: Gabriel Omonhinmin  

On May 7, 2019, at exactly 7.45 a.m., Palace Watch got an SMS from HRM Oba Adewale Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi Telu 1, the Oluwo of Iwo, and the message was “Africans, nay Nigerians are no devils. Yoruba as a people are blessed and our culture and tradition is the best. But what is required now is for all men of goodwill to advocate upgrading of all sectors of our cultural practices to make them more appealing. As a King, I will not stop until I help to make our cultural heritage and traditional values, the envy of the world.”Palace Watch then reached out to Oluwo of Iwo, who shared his thoughts on various national issues.

What brought about the message you sent?
The message arose from the pains I currently suffer over the damming issues of ritual killings, kidnapping and other worrisome crimes, which have continued to unsettle most Nigerians and foreigners alike. For how long will all these crimes be allowed to fester unattended to in our society?

This is not the type of society we inherited, and there is no way I will continue to keep quiet like most monarchs across the country over these very worrisome matters. I have resolved to continue with my advocacy over these issues. I know most traditional rulers, who are involved in all manner of rituals will not be happy with me and will not find my advocacy funny. I am, however, determined to ensure our children no longer die unnecessarily over ritual related matters, due to age-long ignorance of ritual killings by kings and their friends or allies.

The act is not only barbaric, but it is also wicked and unacceptable in any civilized setting. We must, therefore, do all within our powers as traditional rulers to make sure African gods or deities that require only human blood are no longer appeased.Just a little over 100 years ago, it was a great woman called Mary Slessor that fought so hard to stop killings of twins in some Nigerian societies because we ignorantly believed then that twins were devils. All twins in Nigeria should eulogise and celebrate Mary Slessor. 

Nigerians are dying in thousands daily because of ritual killings. The case of Badoo in Lagos is one singular example of this evil. It is a very good example of money rituals, which have become the common practice in our society. Mind you, the practice is all about shedding of innocent blood. The situation has gotten so bad that children can no longer trust their parents and neighbours, due to societal craze and desperation for quick money. 

As if this is not painful enough, most parents, guardians and other relatives are now in the habit of selling their wards and relatives into slavery to places like Italy, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Some of these children are made sex slaves and in the process killed and unaccounted for. 

Other high level crimes are daily committed, due to desperation of seeking greener pastures abroad, which is a mirage. Enough of this. Government must now begin to act and speak up against this type of crime. If not for President Muhammadu Buhari’s quick intervention, innocent blood would have been shed by Saudi Arabian government in the case of little Zainab Aliyu and the 81-year-old man, who were implicated by a desperate drug cartel at Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Their lives would have been wasted just like that. 

With this type of crime, what precedent are we showing our children, especially the youths? All traditional rulers of good conscience should henceforth rise up and do all within their powers to rid the society of these elements, especially those residing in their domains. They should deliberately continue to do all within their powers to assist law enforcement agents to arrest these elements, no matter how wealthy they are. They are not good examples to any society.

It might not be palatable to most traditional rulers across Africa,especially Nigeria and Yoruba land. But we must henceforth learn to do away with traditional and cultural practices that encourage these types of inhuman practices. We as traditional rulers need to show love and compassion at any given time. 

We need to change what we met our forefathers ignorantly doing to harm our society. Such acts are not culture or tradition; they are simply evil that we must do away with. And once we do this, Africa will no longer be regarded as backward and evil by others, especially European countries. 

My prayer, therefore, is that any traditional ruler, especially my fellow Obas, who find it difficult supporting this type of noble act of preserving innocent lives, his family members should also experience the pains family members of victims of ritual killings, kidnappings and other violent crimes currently ravaging our society suffer.

The principal reason for placing this curse is simple. There is a common adage in Yoruba land, which says, “The elderly can’t be around and watch helplessly as children go astray or die recklessly in their presence.” Traditional rulers by our customs and traditions, no matter their age, are the elderly in any society. They, therefore, have a role to play to help stem this ugly trend that is not helping our society in any way or form. 

We are kings, so we must see everyone in our society as our children, especially the very young and vulnerable. Sadly, as we speak, no traditional ruler, as far as I know in Nigeria, is speaking against ritual killing, which is gradually becoming a norm in our present day society. If I may ask again, why are all these things going on and no king is talking about them? Are some of our kings part of these ugly game? Some kings justify so many ugly things pertaining to ritual killings in the name of customs and traditions. What culture and tradition are they talking about? 

I honestly expect my fellow Yoruba Obas to have learnt a lesson or two from the Efon Alaye king, who was hanged sometime in the 60s or early 70s for his complicity in the killing of a young child in the name of rituals. Ritualism is not culture or tradition, as far as I am concerned. That particular incident showed clearly that some of our Yoruba Obas are part of this nonsense. The Efon Alaye Oba was caught, but what about other kings, who are still doing these things and have not been caught? Is it right and proper? We are all sitting down looking in the name of culture, while they are busy killing our children.

And some people call such terrible barbaric acts culture and tradition? It was these types of acts that gave impetus to the money rituals that are almost becoming a norm in our present day society. When will they stop?All these happenings around African countries are contributing to our lack of progress. Mind you, any country that does all these things will never be at peace with itself. These are simply natural reactions that come without any curse. These ugly acts naturally recycle themselves and come with karma. People still have the erroneous belief that karma will never come. Then let’s wait and see, if they don’t stop henceforth, what will happen to them and their generations yet unborn. 

I know these comments will unsettle many kings, still involved in all manner of ritual killings. They will hate me more, but I honestly don’t care about how they feel. If this nonsense is not stopped forthwith, what kind of future are we laying down for our children and generations coming after us?

Why do you think Law enforcement agencies, particularly the Police seem helpless?
How can the police uncover the crimes, if people are not willing to cooperate with them? Police need lots of information to work with, and the people are not forthcoming with such information, just because they have been hoodwinked in name of culture and tradition. 

Just recently, an Oba in the Southwest was to be buried, women were particularly warned not to stray into the town during late hours, otherwise they would be killed. Assuming an illiterate lady that can’t read and write get stranded in that town, what is the guarantee that the innocent lady who is just going about her business would not be killed, to justify one nonsense culture and tradition? Which culture or tradition says that a king or his people should illegally take the life of another person they did not help to create?

With this position, most traditional rulers across the country, especially your fellow Obas from the Southwest, will see you as a rebel. Does this not bother you?
I don’t care what they think of me, I am only after the truth. Will I say because of what other Obas, who are mere mortals like me think or say about me, I should not speak against the barbaric acts they are involved in, and which are not helping society? If we choose to keep quiet, what are kings for? What are leaders for? What are the roles of traditional rulers in helping to make society a better place? 

My friend, people are free to use their mouths anyhow they like. I am for the truth and will never leave that path, which is pleasing to the Almighty Allah. Nigeria is just like the personal domain of every king. Once traditional rulers begin to genuinely speak against these evils, people involved in these acts will no longer have the liver to continue with their acts. And with this position, the entire country will become safer for all of us.

What is the way forward and how do we stop all these acts?
Our message goes out daily to the Obas and kings involved in these ugly acts, but they are not ready to change. The few of us that believe in the truth and the betterment of society will force them to quit the acts that do no one any good. Their alibi is that they inherited these customs from their forefathers, but they fail to realise that their forefathers were not living in a civilized and enlightened society, such as the one we have today.

Most of these secret cults that require human sacrifice, which some of our kings and their people cued into, were never founded by kings. The association founded by kings as a group, is the Assembly of traditional rulers, which is called Council of Traditional rulers in states and local government and the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria at the national level. 

Indeed, these groups are voluntary associations of kings across the country, where the welfare and well-being of kings are discussed alongside other issues of national importance. These groups or bodies do not demand any form of sacrifice nor human blood or that of an animal. 

So, I am henceforth advocating that we now have bodies that should be known and called for example, the “Yoruba Council of Oba,” an assemblage where all Yoruba speaking Obas should sit down once in a long while and discuss matters concerning the Yoruba nation generally. Similarly, we should have Ijaw Council of Obas, Igbo Council of Obis or Eze, and the Hausa Fulani Council of Emirs.

These groups should be able to meet separately at different times, compare notes about things happening around their areas that are bothering them, and then bring such before the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria. Please, try to get the point I am pushing here. These Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbos and Hausa Fulani Councils of Kings do not in any way invalidate all other existing councils in the Local Government Areas and the states across the country, which meet more frequently than the one I am proposing, which will only meet in a very long while.

If government wants the security situation in the country to improve drastically, it must henceforth learn to empower traditional rulers and traditional institutions. No security system can impact on the ordinary people without the cooperation and collaboration of traditional rulers across the country. 

Are you comfortable with the level of funding for traditional institutions by government?
Nice to know that efforts are now being made by the Federal Government to channel Local Government Areas’ allocation to them directly. But much as this move is applauded, it will not help the present security situation in the country. The Obas, Obis and Emirs are the Chief Security Officers (CSO) in their domains.

If this is true, then the kings need to be funded. The Federal Government should make provision for a special budgetary allocation for traditional rulers to deal with security needs. This is the way to go. Oftentimes, the kings that are not funded by government are the ones supporting and providing funds and other logistics for the police to fight crimes in their domains.

The Nigeria Police can hardly do anything meaningful without the kings’ cooperation. Honestly, the salaries of Obas, Obis and Emirs are nothing to write home about. If I tell you the monthly salary of a First Class Oba in the Southwest, especially in Osun State where I am, you will be ashamed and scandalised. Yet, so much is expected from these kings. The North is slightly better, but it is still not enough. 

Once the government at the centre begins to offer reasonable resources to kings across the country, and they are legislatively empowered to take some actions and decisions, things will naturally improve security-wise across the country. Most criminals see kings as toothless bulldogs that can do little or nothing. 

When a king wants to correct criminals in their domains, they go to court, saying the king does not have the power to do this or that to them. But if kings are given some legal backing, most criminals will run away from their domains or decide to behave themselves. Criminals are not ghosts, but there is little or nothing a king can do the way things are now.The government should, as a matter of urgency, formulate policies to criminalise some of these practices. Some kings are hiding behind ritual killings to commit all sorts of atrocities. These acts are nothing but cultural corruption.

Source: Some traditional rulers behind ritual killings in their domains — Oluwo Of Iwo

Ears, private parts picked in Paradise – Zambia

Published: May 17, 2019
By: Chomba Musika, Zambia

A HOUSEWIFE of Lusaka testifying in a suspected ritual murder case involving seven deaths has told the Lusaka High Court how three strangers picked an ear and male genitals from the rooftop of her house.
Silvia Mwape, 33, of Paradise area in Lilanda township, was testifying in a matter a 30-year-old man of Lilanda West is accused of killing seven people in suspected ritual circumstances.

Read: http://epaper.daily-mail.co.zm/

Source: Ears, private parts picked in Paradise

Related: under construction

Mozambique: Arrests over murder of boy with albinism

People with albinism often face discrimination

Published: May 7, 2019
By: BBC – Jose Tembe – BBC Africa, Maputo

Police in Mozambique say they have arrested two people over the abduction and murder of a 12-year old boy with albinism. 

The suspects confessed to the murder, with one of them saying that they had killed the boy “to extract his bones”. A third suspect is being sought, police said. 

The 12-year-old’s body has been recovered. He was abducted from his home in the Muchelelene locality in northern Nampula province last week.

There has been a spate of killings of people with albinism in parts of southern and East Africa, with their body parts used to make charms and potions by witchdoctors.

In Mozambique, people convicted of kidnapping and killing albinos have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

Source: Mozambique arrests over murder of boy with albinism
Africa Live 6-7 May, 2019 (7:25) as it happened – BBC News
Jose Tembe – BBC Africa, Maputo

Nigeria, Niger State: brothers arrested for alleged ritual killing

The suspects

Published: May 6, 2019
By: Enyioha Opara, Minna – Punch Nigeria 

The Niger State Police Command has apprehended three brothers for ritual killing in the Borgu Local Government Area of the state.

The suspects, Saminu Usman,25; Yusuf Usman,22; and  Muhammadu Usman, 35, all of Janruwa village in the Borgu LGA were reportedly arrested by a team of policemen attached to the New Bussa division after a complaint by the father of their victim, Yakubu Garba.

It was learnt that the suspects abducted one Shehu Garba and whisked him away to an unknown location where they planned to kill him for rituals.

Northern City News gathered on Sunday that the men took their victim to a bush where they killed him and cut off one of his hands.

One of the suspects, Saminu, alleged that his eldest brother, Mohammadu, instructed them to cut off their victim’s hand for ritual to enable them to be rich.

He stated, “It was actually not our intention to kill our victim for rituals. But after killing him, we cut off his hand, which we planned to use for ritual, before we were arrested by the police.

“I don’t know what to say; but we have disappointed our parents and other family members. Imagine three brothers going to jail at the same time; we have ruined our lives.”

The command Public Relations Officer, Muhammad Abubakar, confirmed the incident, saying the suspects had confessed to the crime.

Abubakar said the three brothers killed their victim for ritual purposes, adding that the matter had been charged to court.

Source: We have ruined our lives – Brothers arrested for alleged ritual killing

Uganda: ‘We wanted wealth!’ Four witch doctors arrested over ritual murders tell Police

One of the suspects – upon interrogation – discloses the buried bodies and police exhumes the missing persons (PML Daily PHOTO)

Published: August 13, 2018
By: Maurice Muhwezi

KAYUNGA – Police in Naggalama has arrested four witchdoctors for alleged ritual killing.

A disappearance report of Mirembe Zuraika was filed at Naggalama Police Station on August 11 and Police mounted a search leading to the arrest of the witchdoctors.

The DPC Naggalama ASP Jessica Naawe confirmed that the relatives of Mirembe reported a case of the disappearance of their daughter and tipped off police that she had talked of having an appointment with a one Owen Sebuyungo, a 24-year-old witch doctor.

In his confession, Sebuyungo narrated that Mirembe visited his shrine for help since she had been possessed by evil spirits (empewo).

Sebuyungo then contacted his spiritual consultant a renowned witchdoctor Mohammed Wamala alias Bob who enticed him to murder Mirembe.

One of the suspects held over the vicious ritual murders is led to a cell at Naggalama Police Station (PML Daily PHOTO)

Wamala allegedly told Sebuyungo that he would amass lots of wealth if he could cut off the head of a female human being.

Following leads, police conducted further investigations leading to the arrest of a syndicate of witch doctors that are believed to have participated in the heinous act.

Upon thorough questioning, the four confessed to having welcomed Mirembe at the shrine and at dawn, beheaded her and buried the head in the shrine.

The suspects then led Police to the shrine where she had been buried.

Shockingly five bodies buried in a rather disturbing position were exhumed.

Wamala told Police he had ferried over eight females from his home in Ganda Nansana, murdered and buried them at this shrine located in Ntunda Kayunga.

Police has also recovered a number of items that include spears and pots filled with fresh blood suspected to be human blood.

Several bodies were exhumed by the Police at the shrine (PML Daily PHOTO)

Blood samples have been picked, taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) while the recovered bodies that had decomposed beyond recognition have been taken to Mulago hospital for DNA test so that the relatives can identify them.

“The search is still going on. We suspect more bodies must still be buried under the remaining five shrines,” ASP Naawe said.

Police has since cordoned off the area as the search for more evidence continues in this strange murder case.
The four suspects identified as Junior Kibuuka, Fred Kiiza Semanda, Wamala Muhammed and Owen Sebuyungo are detained at Naggalama Police Station.

Source: We wanted wealth! Four witch doctors arrested over ritual murders tell Police
PML Daily, Uganda

Related articles:

Police, CMI recover five bodies from Kayunga shrine, healer arrested
By Fred Muzaale
Daily Monitor
August 11, 2018

Police in Naggalama, Mukono District and operatives from Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) have arrested a traditional healer and also recovered five bodies from his shrine in Kisoga village, Nazigo sub-county, Kayunga District.
The Naggalama police division police commander, Ms Jesca Naawe, identified the suspect as a 27-year-old a renowned youthful traditional healer.
Ms Naawe explained on Saturday that the five bodies, one believed to be of a woman, and the rest of male adults, were dug from three shallow graves which were found in the suspect’s shrine.

Source: Police, CMI recover five bodies from Kayunga shrine, healer arrested

And:

Police find child skull in fresh search on shrines
By Fred Muzaale & Joseph Kato
Daily Monitor
August 14, 2018

 Mr Owen Ssebuyungo (squatting) one of the suspe

Mr Owen Ssebuyungo (squatting) one of the suspects directs police during the search in Kayunga District yesterday. PHOTO BY FRED MUZAALE

Kayunga- Security operatives yesterday retrieved a skull of a child when they resumed a search at a witch-doctor’s shrine in Kisoga village, Nazigo Sub-county in Kayunga District where five human bodies were recovered last Saturday.

The main suspect, Mr Owen Ssebuyungo, 27, and three other witch doctors are being held in separate detention centres.

The five bodies, one being of a woman, were dug up by police assisted by residents at Ssebuyungo’s grass-thatched shrine.

The security team resumed the operation at around 2pm although it was interrupted by a downpour.

The residents and police from Kayunga and Naggalama police stations used hoes to dig up the entire compound, which had five shrines, as the suspects watched.

By press time, police had recovered a skull of a child at the shrines, but the excavation was still ongoing.

More bodies

“We have come back to dig up the entire area because locals told investigators that they think there are still more bodies which were buried in the shrines,” Mr George Obia, Kayunga District Police Commander said.

Police have since Saturday maintained presence at Ssebuyungo’s shrine, which has been declared a scene of crime.

A house belonging to Ssebuyungo’s mother, standing a few metres from the shrines, looked deserted as she reportedly fled after her son’s arrest about a week ago.

Ssebuyungo, according to locals, lived with his wife in Kabimbiri town in the neighbouring Mukono District and only came to his shrines to attend to clients. His father Charles Ssonko, now deceased, was also a witch doctor.

The Local Council One chairman, Mr Bernard Ssekizira, said the discovery of human bodies at the shrine has left the residents in shock.

“Although we had heard rumours that Ssebuyungo was involved in suspicious acts of kidnapping people, we never took it seriously until Saturday when human bodies were discovered at his shrine,” Mr Ssekizira said.
He said the incident has tainted the image of their village, adding that people will start shunning the area.

He urged authorities to investigate activities of all witch-doctors in the area to arrest whoever is engaged in criminal acts.

Following the incident, Kayunga Deputy Resident District Commissioner Yahaya Were said they had stopped all activities of witch doctors in the district until the registered association of traditional healers goes to the district to verify the honest healers from the unscrupulous ones.

Residents in Mukono also told investigators that Ssebuyungo and his accomplices had another shrine in Kiwungi village in Ssi Sub-county, Buikwe District which they abandoned a year ago.

Police did not say whether they would also search the abandoned shrine.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said one of the suspects, Wamala, had revealed to police that he often took young girls from his Nansana shrine to Kayunga shrine for offering to the gods.

“We arrested Wamala and while in detention at Naggalama Police Station, he confessed that he ferried eight women to this shrine. At the shrine, we recovered four bodies, a human skull and pots containing blood-like liquids but we suspect there could be more bodies in this shrine,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.

Women murders

He said police had not yet discovered the whereabouts of the said women but highly suspect they were murdered in ritual sacrifice within the shrine premises.

Last week police recovered the body of Allen Nakiyingi, a teacher in Kira Municipality in Wakiso District, buried in her lover’s house in Matugga town, in the same district.

She had gone missing for three weeks. The house in which Nakiyingi’s body was retrieved belonged to her boyfriend’s mother who is also a witch-doctor based in Kayunga District.

Purpose

Confessed: Ssebuyungo told security that they sacrificed human beings to woo many clients to their shrine.
The bodies, which had decomposed beyond recognition, were retrieved from shallow graves and a Shs5,000 note was placed on each of them.
Spears and pots of blood, suspected to have been drawn from human beings, were recovered at the shrine and taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory for investigation.
The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital for DNA testing.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

Source: Police find child skull in fresh search on shrines

And:

Locals destroy house, crops of Kayunga witch doctor’s mother
By Fred Muzaale
Daily Monitor
August 15, 2018

Residents of Kisoga village demolish Owen Ssebuyungo’s house on Tuesday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE

Kayunga- Angry residents of Kisoga village, Nazigo Sub-county on Tuesday morning destroyed a house belonging to the mother of Owen Ssebuyungo, a witch doctor and key suspect in the murder of six people whose bodies were retrieved from his shrine on Monday.

The area LC2 chairperson, Mr Mohammed Kagimu, on Tuesday said the angry residents stormed Margaret Ssonko’s home at around 5am after the police, which had maintained presence in the area since Saturday, had left.

“Given the anger residents had, there was no way they could spare his parents’ home and crops,” Mr Kagimu said.

After destroying the home, they pounced on her garden and destroyed crops such as coffee and bananas. By 9am on Tuesday, residents were still seen cutting down the crops.

Fleeing for safety

Ms Ssonko reportedly fled the area a week ago after her son was arrested by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence officers.

Ssebuyungo, together with three other suspects; Juniro Kibuuka, Fred Kiiza Semanda and Muhammed Wamala, are detained at Naggalama Division Police Station, according to Ms Jesca Naawe, the district police commander.

The Kayunga District Police Commander, Mr George Obia, criticised the residents for taking the law into their own hands.

He said on Monday evening, the police used a grader to excavate suspected crime points since tools such as hoes and mattock could not do the work in a short time possible.

He said apart from the child’s skull and bones that were recovered on Monday, no other bodies were found.“Our investigators have now gone to Nansana to search Mohammed Wamala’s shrine,” Mr Obia said.

Investigations

He, however, said investigations into the case have almost been concluded adding that the files would be taken to the resident state attorney today for perusal. “Most likely they will appear in court on Friday or latest on Monday,” he said.

Ms Naawe said the suspects will be transferred from Naggalama Police Station to Kayunga Police Station.

This incident has prompted the Resident District Commissioner Rose Birungi, who heads the district security committee to halt all activities of traditional healers in Kayunga district, located about 50 kilometres from Kampala.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

Source: Locals destroy house, crops of Kayunga witch doctor’s mother

 

Kenya: Evil spirits? Villagers stone to death suspected ritual killer in Meru

Ritual killing is wrong. Suspected cases of ritual killing must be taken serious. But mob justice is absolutely not the right answer to react to a suspected case – or a real case – of ritual murder. Let the police do its work. Let the courts do their work. The judiciary system must deal with confessed or alleged murderers. The rule of law must be applied.

People have a right to live without fear – hence my exposure of ritual killings in Africa, hoping it will contribute to more awareness of this horrible phenomenon. I also plead for the rule of law: murderers must be prosecuted and they have a right to defend themselves, aided by a professional lawyer. Therefore, there is no place for mob justice.
(webmaster FVDK)

Kenya: Evil spirits? Villagers stone to death suspected ritual killer in Meru

Published on February 21, 2018
By

Sheila Makena (6) and Justin Mwenda (7) were found dead. Villagers lynched the suspected ritual killer of the two pupils.
[Photo: Courtesy]

Residents of Mweru location in Meru County yesterday lynched a man suspected to be behind the killing of two children.

The bodies of Sheila Makena, six, and Justin Mwenda, seven, both Standard One pupils at Machegene Primary School, were found last week.
Makena’s body was found on Thursday and Mwenda’s on Sunday. The bodies were discovered 30 metres apart.

Angry residents yesterday confronted the suspect, who allegedly confessed that he had killed the two children in search of blood.

Raised alarm

Makena’s parents raised the alarm when their daughter failed to return home on the evening of February 15. Her body was discovered on the school farm by a watchman.

“The pupil was missing at about 1pm. When the class teacher checked the attendance register, she was not in class. Her class mates said she had gone to get mangoes from the school farm,” said Lucy Karani, deputy head teacher of the school.

The child’s neck was slit and her mutilated body lay in a pool of blood under a mango tree. According to Mwiru Location Chief Purity Mugambi, the body had parts missing.
“Her eyes were gouged out and her body was severely mutilated,” said Ms Mugambi.

Mwenda, the second victim, had been sent by his mother to fetch water from a nearby stream when he was stabbed to death. His mother, Varsity Karimi, said her three other children who were at the river with Mwenda, narrowly escaped death when they fled from the suspect.

The three later named the suspect, who was their cousin, leading to his lynching.

“My second born narrated to me how they almost died with their younger brother,” said Ms Karimi.

The children said the suspect threatened to stab them after appearing at the river where they were fetching water. As the three fled, he was left behind with Mwenda before the boy was found dead.

The family said they had been hosting the suspect after he fled from his home in nearby Gikurune. He is said to have fled after attacking his brother and torching his house.

“We knew he had a criminal record because he had attacked and injured his brother earlier. When he came here about three weeks ago, we accommodated him because he is the son of my late sister. We did not imagine he could murder his cousin, who seemed to be his favourite,” said the boy’s father, James Kimathi.

Villagers later accosted the suspect, who claimed he had been instructed to kill seven people and drink their blood.

Evil spirits

Villagers said the suspect was possessed by evil spirits or belonged to a cult. His family and those who knew him said he always carried a bag with knives and documents containing literature no one understood. Other blamed drugs for his erratic behaviour and the killings.

Reports indicate that the suspect tried to attack pursuing villagers before he was stoned to death and his body set ablaze.

Igoji East MCA John Kireria said insecurity was to blame for the killings. He said the suspect had been roaming freely in the area despite being linked to multiple crimes. “It is unfortunate that he fled from the neighbouring village after committing arson and causing grievous harm. We have a police post but it is unoccupied because no officers have been posted there because the camp was funded by the Constituency Development Fund,” he said.

Source: SDE Entertainment News – Kenya, February 21, 2018
Related link covering the same news:
Villagers lynch suspected ritual killer of two pupils – February 21, 2018
Published: February 21, 2018 at 07:31, Updated February 21, 2018 at 07:35 GMT +3

Meru County, Wikipedia

Meru County – Kenya

Campaign Amnesty International: “Malawi: Stop ritual murders of people with albinism”

The right to live without fear is a human right

Originally published: 2017; exact date unknown.
By Amnesty International

Mid-2017, Amnesty International launched a campaign ‘Stop ritual murders of people with albinism in Malawi’. Read below why.

Amnesty International:

A new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism over the past six months is being fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs.

Since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction.

Albinism is a rare,non-contagious, genetic condition present at birth that results in absence of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. It is estimated that between 7,000-10,000 people live with albinism in Malawi.

Erroneous beliefs and superstitions have put the safety and lives of people with albinism at risk, including from killings, abductions, and mutilations. Societal attitudes about albinism are not changing, and people with albinism continue to be at risk of attacks with some children being abducted and sold by family members.

Despite stronger legislation since 2016, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017.

A new wave of killings and attacks against people with albinism emerged in January 2017, after a six month reprieve between June and December 2016.

On 28 February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her hand, right breast and hair removed.

On 10 January 2017, 19-year-old Madalitso Pensulo was killed after he was invited for afternoon tea at his friend’s house in Mlonda village in Thyolo District. A passer-by heard him scream, but he died before the police arrived at the scene.

The latest abduction took place on 28 May, when a nine-year-old boy, Mayeso Isaac, was taken by a gang of 10 men.

People with albinism are paying for political and social inaction with their lives. This is a matter of life and death.

We’re calling on the president of Malawi to protect people with albinism from attacks and bring the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes to justice.

Dear President Peter Mutharika,

Thousands of people with albinism live in constant fear of being abducted or killed in Malawi, where their body parts are being sold for use in ritual purposes. Ritual killings of people with albinism are influenced by superstitions and myths that their bones or body parts can bring riches.

We, the undersigned, call on you to:

  • Bring to justice the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes
  • Offer effective protections for people with albinism. Protect their right to life and right to personal security, in accordance with Malawi’s international human rights obligations and commitments.
  • Resource the police to adequately and thoroughly investigate crimes related to albinism
  • Tackle the harmful superstitious beliefs perpetuating the targeting of people with albinism.

Source: Amnesty International, 2017

Related link: Video – Hunted for their body parts

Malawi: Impunity fuels killing of people with albinism for body parts

The right to live without fear is a human right

Published on June 28, 2018, 12:01am
Amnesty International UK

A wave of killings

Since November 2014, an unprecedented wave of killings and other human rights abuses including abductions and robberies against people with albinism has swept through Malawi. Similar attacks have occurred in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000, representing a ratio of 1 in every 1,800 people.

The Malawian authorities must urgently overhaul the criminal justice system to protect people with albinism, who face the persistent threat of being killed for their body parts in a country where the vast majority of these horrific crimes remain unresolved and unpunished, Amnesty International said today.

In its new briefing, ‘End violence against people with albinism: Towards effective criminal justice for people with albinism in Malawi’, Amnesty found that people with albinism face long delays in getting justice.

Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 148 cases, including 14 murders and seven attempted murders, according to police figures. However, Amnesty has established that at least 21 people with albinism have been killed since 2014.

Only 30 per cent of the 148 reported cases against people with albinism have been concluded, according to the latest statistics from the Malawi Police Service and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. To date, only one murder and one attempted murder cases have been successfully prosecuted.

Even the police have raised concerns with Amnesty about delays in concluding trials, due to the limited number of senior magistrates qualified to deal with cases relating to people with albinism.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

“People with albinism deserve to see justice for these vile, hateful crimes against them. That it takes so long for cases to be investigated or heard in court is a sobering indictment of the systematic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system.

“The authorities must end impunity for these crimes immediately. As a first step, they must ensure all pending cases are dealt with without undue delay, and in line with international standards of fairness.”

In its 2016 report, Amnesty found that attacks against people with albinismare fuelled by stereotypical beliefs that their body parts bring wealth and good luck.

Among recent victims is Mark Masambuka, a 22-year-old man from Nakawa village, in Machinga district, southern Malawi, who disappeared on 9 March after leaving his home with a friend. His body was found buried in a shallow grave on 1 April.

On 7 December last year, a two-year-old girl, Jean Ngwedula, went missing. Her father reportedly sold the child to a traditional doctor for ritual purposes in neighbouring Mozambique, which has been identified along with Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania as markets for the cross-border trade in body parts. Jean’s father was later arrested on charges of murder, and investigations were continuing at the time of the publication of this briefing.

Criminal justice failings

The biggest challenges facing the judiciary, prosecutors and police in Malawi include a lack of financial resources and qualified personnel to handle crimes against people with albinism, which has resulted in a backlog of cases. Although serious cases are dealt with in magistrates’ courts, most prosecutors are police officers with no legal training.

According to a senior magistrate interviewed by Amnesty, most police prosecutors struggle to make sound legal submissions, resulting in either acquittals or convictions on lesser charges.

Ending the cycle of killings

Amnesty has noted as a positive step forward the government’s recommitment to protect the rights of people with albinism during a commemoration of International Albinism Awareness Day on 13 June in Kasungu.

However, Amnesty believes that a human rights strategy is needed to address the root causes of crimes against people with albinism and to stop further attacks. The strategy should also include tracing and identifying the source of demand for body parts, as well as enlisting the cooperation of Malawi’s neighbouring countries to stamp out the cross-border trafficking of people with albinism and their body parts.

Deprose Muchena said:

“The Malawian authorities must ensure that people with albinism no longer live in fear of organised criminal gangs who prey on their body parts. The government must overhaul the judicial system to guarantee the security and safety of people with albinism, who are some of society’s most vulnerable.”

Source: Amnesty International UK, June 28, 2018

 

Swaziland: Campaign to educate on albinism

There are also positive and encouraging newspaper reports and blogs, like e.g. Richard Rooney’s post on Swazi Media Commentary, Information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland. On March 30, 2018 Richard Rooney published the following report on ‘A campaign to educate on albinism in Swaziland’. Also in other African countries, people rise up against ritualistic killings and related human rights violations, e.g. in Gabon.

‘Freedom of fear is a human right;  rule of law an obligation of the state’. The answer to ritualistic killings in the short term is the rule of law – but the only real answer to these heinous crimes is EDUCATION.
(webmaster FVDK)

Like many people living with albinism in Swaziland, Albert fears for his life.

CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE ON ALBINISM

BY RICHARD ROONEY
SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY – INFORMATION AND COMMENTARY ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN SWAZILAND
Published: March 30, 2018

A campaign has started in Swaziland called ‘Don’t kill us, we are human beings too’ to raise awareness about people with albinism.

People in Swaziland with the skin condition live in fear of their lives as some traditional healers, witchdoctors and others use their body parts in spells to bring good luck.

The Stukie Motsa Foundation is now using social media to dispel the false belief that people with albinism cleanse back luck and bring fortune to people.

There have been concerns in Swaziland for years that people with albinism have been targeted and murdered. Witchdoctors use the body parts to make spells that they claim bring people good luck.  Sport teams have also been known to use spells to bring them good fortune during matches. Witchdoctors’ services are especially sought after by candidates contesting parliamentary and local elections. An election is due in Swaziland later in 2018.

In January 2017, the Director of Public Prosecution’s office in Swaziland told witchdoctors in the kingdom to stop murdering people for body parts. The witchdoctors, also known as tinyanga, were advised to go to the Ministry of Health for body parts, such as bones.

During the national elections in Swaziland in 2013, people with albinism lived in fear that their body parts would be harvested by candidates seeking good luck.

Independent Newspapers in South Africa reported at the time, ‘In the past [people with albinism], who lack the skin pigment melanin, as well as epileptics have been specifically targeted, prompting the police to set up registries.

‘In 2010, the killing and mutilation of [people with albinism], including in one instance the decapitation of two children in Nhlangano, prompted panic.’

In August 2013, Independent Newspapers quoted an academic at the University of Swaziland, who did not want to be named, saying, ‘Ritual killings to achieve elected office are a natural outgrowth of a government based not on rationality or democratic principles but on superstitious beliefs.

‘The Swazi king claims power through an annual Incwala festival where a bull is brutally sacrificed and mysterious rituals occur, and this sets the tone. No one knows how office-holders are appointed in Swaziland. It’s all done in secret, without recourse to merit or any rhyme or reason, so this fuels irrational beliefs.

‘Ritual murder has long been part of Swazi life.’

At present, a Swazi traditional healer is in police custody in South Africa for allegedly killing two children from Vosman near Witbank, one of them living with albinism. The South African Deputy Minister for Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said the killing of people living with albinism by people believed to be Swazis has become a national crisis in her home country.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (27 March 2018), ‘The deputy minister said she wanted to know what Swaziland was doing to stop the killing of people living with albinism. She also stated that some of these people were quitting their jobs and schools in fear of being kidnapped.’

Albinism affects the production of melanin, the pigment that colours skin, hair and eyes. It’s a lifelong condition, but it doesn’t get worse over time. People with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, or no melanin at all. This can affect their colouring and their eyesight. Albinism is caused by faulty genes that a child inherits from their parents.

See also :
PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM WANT PROTECTION

Source: A campaign to educate on albinism, March 30, 2018

More on Swazi Media Commentary (source: Pambazuka News):
Swazi Media Commentary: Telling the truth about Swaziland
by Peter Kenworthy | February 2, 2011

Related article on albinism in Swaziland: Why Albert is living in fear