Human sacrifices, myth or reality? – A viewpoint

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.

Source: Human sacrifices, myth or reality?

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo ritual murder – Dad opens up on ritual killer son

Sometimes a murder results in more than one victim…. 

I previously reported on this case in my June 17 posting, ‘Suspected ritual killers in first court appearance‘. Below some more information on this grisly ritual murder. Of course, I offer my condolences to the victim’s parents and other relatives. However, I also pity the murderer’s relatives, who will have to live with the crime committed by their relative, son, brother, cousin. The father of one of the suspected murderers speaks out in two articles which have been reproduced below (webmaster FVDK).

Dad opens up on ritual killer son

Tawana Ngwenya, suspected murderer (right) and his father Buzwani Ngwenya (left)

Published: June 13, 2020
By: Chronicle – Zimbabwe -Temba Dube, Deputy News Editor 

THE father of a 20-year-old man who allegedly killed a 25-year-old woman in Bulawayo, dismembered the body and put the remains in a drum filled with acid, yesterday opened up about the grisly ritual murder.

Tawana Ngwenya was arrested in Harare on Thursday as a suspect in the brutal killing of Ms Thabelo Mazolo.

Her body was cut in half and the lower part has not been located.

The breasts and palms had been sliced off.

The rest of the body was stashed in a drum in a toilet at a guest house where she worked and lived with Tawana and his father Mr Buzwani Ngwenya (60) who was the caretaker.

The community around Fortunes Gate in Matsheumhlophe where the murder occurred continues to express disbelief and horror at the callous killing.

Tawana allegedly acted on the instructions of a South Africa-based sangoma to kill Mazolo, so he could get rich.

Colleagues alleged they saw a message on his phone instructing him how to sell his soul for riches in a blood ritual that involved killing and mutilating Mazolo.

It is suspected Mazolo could have been killed between 29 May and 1 June when she went missing.

On 1 June Mr Ngwenya received a message from Mazolo’s phone informing him she would be away for a week.

Tawana fled to Harare on Tuesday when his father continued asking him about Mazolo’s whereabouts.

Mazolo’s uncle Mr Benny Moyo yesterday said she would be buried at her rural home in Zhombe tomorrow.

“The family will discuss the way forward in Zhombe,” said Mr Moyo.

Tawana is expected in the city today to assist police with investigations.

The elderly Mr Ngwenya yesterday said the day he heard his son could have committed the heinous act destroyed him.

“He was a quiet young man and seemed to be in good books with Thabelo. She would call him for assistance whenever she was in town on business. They appeared to get along very well. I’m crushed to learn he could have killed her in this beastly manner,” said Mr Ngwenya.

He said he has been seated at a shopping centre in the city the whole day as he could not process what his son had done.

“I am afraid to even approach Thabelo’s family but we obviously have to meet over this at some time. I need some respectable people to accompany me to talk to them. These people have been very good to us.

“I do not know what evil spirit possessed him to do this,” said Mr Ngwenya.

“Imagine we were looking for her and he was assisting us yet he could have known she was already dead. I feel like I’m losing my mind.”

He said his son had few friends and he could not imagine which one of them had initiated him into satanic rituals to kill people.

Neighbours said Tawana was soft spoken, polite and always smartly dressed.

They said there was nothing in his behaviour that showed he was capable of hurting another person.

“He was a smart formal dresser. He never wore casual stuff like jeans. He worked at a company that sells chemicals and was known for selling detergents in the area. He looked like a focused young man. I cannot believe he committed this cold-blooded killing. I guess the quiet ones always shock us,” said a neighbour on condition of anonymity.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube yesterday said investigations were still in progress.

“The suspect will be here tomorrow to assist with further investigations,” he said.

Tawana did his O-levels at Allan Wilson High School in Harare.

He was said to be an average student who stayed out of trouble. 

Source: Dad opens up on ritual killer son

Related article: 

He Was A Quiet Young Man – Father Of The 20 Year Old Bulawayo Ritual Murderer Opens Up

Published: June 13, 2020
By: Pindula News

Mr Buzwani Ngwenya the father of 20-year-old Tawana Ngwenya who is alleged to have brutally murdered Thabelo Mazolo, and mutilated her body and cutting off palms and breast before stuffing her body into a drum of acid under the instruction of a South African based traditional healer in a get rich quick ritual has opened up about the shocking gruesome murder committed by his young son, The Chronicle reports.

Speaking to the publication, Ngwenya said:

He was a quiet young man and seemed to be in good books with Thabelo. She would call him for assistance whenever she was in town on business. They appeared to get along very well. I’m crushed to learn he could have killed her in this beastly manner.

I am afraid to even approach Thabelo’s family but we obviously have to meet over this at some time. I need some respectable people to accompany me to talk to them. These people have been very good to us. I do not know what evil spirit possessed him to do this.

Imagine we were looking for her and he was assisting us yet he could have known she was already dead. I feel like I’m losing my mind.

Neighbours who also spoke to the publication about Tawana also said he was polite, respectfully and a soft-spoken young man who was always formally dressed:

He was a smart formal dresser. He never wore casual stuff like jeans. He worked at a company that sells chemicals and was known for selling detergents in the area. He looked like a focused young man. I cannot believe he committed this cold-blooded killing. I guess the quiet ones always shock us.

The Allan Wilson schooled Tawana will be transferred to Bulawayo where he will assist the police with investigations, while his unfortunate victim Thabelo Mazolo will be buried in Zhombe tomorrow.

Source: He Was A Quiet Young Man – Father Of The 20 Year Old Bulawayo Ritual Murderer Opens Up

Another related article:

Grisly ritual murder in affluent suburb

Murder victim Thabelo Mazolo

Published: June 12, 2020
By: Chronicle – Zimbabwe -Temba Dube, Deputy News Editor 

IN a bizarre suspected ritual killing, a 25-year-old woman was sawn in half and part of her body was mutilated and stashed into a drum filled with acid in Bulawayo.

Part of the body, from the waist going down, is still missing while breasts and palms appeared to have been sliced off.

Police yesterday arrested a suspect, Tawana Ngwenya (20), the son of a caretaker where the woman lived. He was arrested in Harare where he had allegedly fled.

Tawana allegedly had a message from a sangoma based in South Africa which instructed him on how to kill Ms Thabelo Mazolo so he could get rich.

Mazolo’s sister secured employment for Ngwenya at a company in Bulawayo and he was staying in Matsheumhlophe suburb at a guest house where Mazolo worked, with his father Mr Buzwani Ngwenya (60) who was the caretaker.

“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. After that you must open the door for my boys to go out,” read part of the message that allegedly had additional instructions on rites that Ngwenya was supposed to perform on the body.

Sources who told the Chronicle about the message said they freaked out and have not been able to eat or sleep, since the body was discovered on Wednesday morning.

Mr Ngwenya said Mazolo moved to Bulawayo from Harare just before the national Covid-19 induced lockdown.

He last saw Mazolo alive on May 29 when she said she was visiting someone in Sizinda suburb.

On June 1, he received a message from Mazolo’s phone informing him she would be away for about a week.

Tawana told him she could have visited friends after he discovered she had not been home since May 29.

He said Tawana disappeared from home on Tuesday when he asked him if he knew Mazolo’s whereabouts and he switched off his phone. “Thabelo’s phone had stopped ringing. On Wednesday there was a strong smell of something rotting from the main house. I called the police. We opened the door with a spare key and found the body in a blue drum in the toilet. It had been cut up and some of Thabelo’s clothes appeared to have been used to wipe up plenty of blood,” said Mr Ngwenya.

He said Tawana was the last of three children who was always quiet and had never shown homicidal tendencies.

Mr Benny Moyo, Mazolo’s uncle, said the family had tried to locate her when she suddenly became unreachable on her phone.

“I went to her workplace and each time I would be told she is busy or had just left. We are devastated to learn she has been killed. We hear the suspect was arrested in Harare today. We may have more information when the police complete investigations,” said Mr Moyo.

Miss Nomathemba Ndaba, Mr Ngwenya’s employer, choked on her words in an interview.

“At least Tawana who is suspected to have done this horrible thing has been arrested,” she said. “We are very sorry for Thabelo’s family but we want to warn young people against partaking in rituals. He may die in jail after this. Young people must be careful who they play with.”

Chronicle went on the ground yesterday and unearthed grisly details of what could have happened.

Tawana who did his O-Levels at Allan Wilson High School in Harare was said to be a loner. He allegedly borrowed a hacksaw from a neighbour on May 25 saying he wanted to prune some trees and cut a drum.

It is suspected the hacksaw was used to cut up the body.

Neighbours said around that time, he said he was looking for sulphuric acid.

He allegedly made inquiries at a company along Khami Road but was told it was out of stock.

Tawana’s colleagues said he seemed spooked and was reluctant to have them spend time at his home with him.

“He was acting weird. It was as if he expected someone to suddenly appear behind him and harm him. He was furtive and withdrew further into himself. When he left, he said he was going to Mutare. We heard a relative had seen him in Kadoma. We are all shocked that he killed someone,” said a friend who declined to be named.

There were heart-tugging moments when some neighbours burst into tears as they talked about Thabelo.

“We had known her for a short time but she was nice to all of us,” said a woman who asked not to be named.

“Tawana was slim and looked frail. If he did it, he could not have done it alone because Thabelo was significantly bigger than him. I doubt he could have lifted the body and put it into the acid drum by himself,” said the neighbour.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said police were investigating the killing.

“The informant last saw the deceased on 29 May 2020 at around 11AM when she was going to town. On 1 June 2020 the now deceased sent a message to the informant advising him that she was going out of town and will be back on Sunday 7 June 2020,” said Inspector Ncube.

He said when Mr Ngwenya called the police, they found Thabelo’s body inside a blue 200 litre drum in the bathroom in a decomposed state.

The body was conveyed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) for post mortem.

Source: Grisly ritual murder in affluent suburb

Related article:

ZRP Arrests A Man In Harare Suspected Of Killing A Woman For Ritual Purposes In Bulawayo’s Matsheumhlophe Suburb

Published: June 12, 2020
By: Pindula News – Zimbabwe

ZRP this week arrested a man in Harare who is suspected of killing a 25-year-old woman whose body was found sawn in half and part of her body mutilated and some body parts like breasts and palms missing and stashed into a drum filled with acid in the affluent Matsheumhlophe suburb in Bulawayo, The Chronicle reports.

The suspected murderer, 20-year-old Tawana Ngwenya, the son of the caretaker where the woman lived, was arrested in Harare where he is suspected to have fled to after committing the heinous crime.

Tawana reportedly had instructions of how he should kill the deceased Ms Thabelo Mazolo to get rich. Part of the instruction seen by the publication 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. After that you must open the door for my boys to go out.

Tawana was staying at the guest house where Mazolo worked after Mazolo’s sister secured employment for him at a Bulawayo company.

Tawana’s father who is a caretaker at the guest house said he last saw Mazolo alive on 29 May:

Tawana disappeared from home on Tuesday when he asked him if he knew Mazolo’s whereabouts and he switched off his phone. Thabelo’s phone had stopped ringing. On Wednesday there was a strong smell of something rotting from the main house. I called the police. We opened the door with a spare key and found the body in a blue drum in the toilet. It had been cut up and some of Thabelo’s clothes appeared to have been used to wipe up plenty of blood.

Source: ZRP Arrests A Man In Harare Suspected Of Killing A Woman For Ritual Purposes In Bulawayo’s Matsheumhlophe Suburb