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.
Unfortunately, the below article contains a too familiar story. Attacks on persons with albinism, mutilation, murder, involvement of high-placed politicians, cover up practices. The President of the Associations of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Ian Simbota, again turned his attention to the country’s rulers and requested the government of President Lazarus Chakwera to speed up all abduction and murder cases which targeted people with albinism (PWA) for ritualistic purposes, often involving high-profile politicians.
It is shocking to read the following article. I won’t repeat here what follows. Once more, however, I want to draw attention to these heinous crimes which threaten people with albinisme on a daily basis. Ritual murders must end. Politicians and other culprits who are involved must be apprehended, put on trial and sentenced. Simultaneously, a national awareness campaign must start, emphasizing the sanctity of life, the need to protect innocent people, the promotion of human rights notably to right to live and the right to live without fear. The government must take its responsibility and act accordingly – or resign. (webmaster FVDK).
APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases
Published: April 29, 2021 By: Nyasa Times – Tiwonge Kumwenda
The focus of today’s posting is not on ritualistic murders or comparable and related crimes, such as kidnapping, torture a.s.o. However, the topic is related: in more than one African country, the public and also the authorities want the introduction and the carrying out of the death penalty for convicted perpetrators of ritual killings both as a deterrent to prevent future crimes and as a justified revenge of the community for the senseless loss of life of one of its members.
It is a controversial topic, as will be clear from the article below. Whereas many African countries have abolished the capital punishment, there seems to be a resurgence of the death penalty in various parts of Africa, notably in southern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe), but also in West Africa (Nigeria e.g.). Recently, Catholic officials across the continent have rejected the increasing calls for the introduction of the death penalty, saying “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”
The latter argument makes sense. There are more reasons to defend the abolishment of the death penalty. However, supporters hold the opposite view for reasons cited above.
Whatever the position is, in favor of or against the death penalty, the article reproduced below shows one more time the ugly practice of ritualistic murders in Southern Africa.
More on the killing of people with albinism in Malawi in a few days time (webmaster FVDK).
Catholic officials decry resurgence of death penalty in southern Africa
HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Catholic officials and human rights campaigners across Africa are reiterating their opposition to capital punishment after Botswana carried out two executions for murder convictions in February.
Botswana, located north of South Africa, confirmed the executions of 33-year-old Wedu Mosalagae and 29-year-old Kutlo Setima on Feb. 8. Both had been found guilty in separate cases of killing a woman.
Oluwatosin Popoola, a legal advisor for Amnesty International on death penalty issues, told NCR that the organization is “very concerned” about the executions, especially as they are the fifth and sixth since President Mokgweetsi Masisi came into office in 2019.
This as “a high number for Botswana within a 16-month period and an indication that the country is not relenting in its adherence” to the use of the death penalty, said Popoola.
“The recent executions are regressive and they slow down Africa’s push against the death penalty,” said Popoola. “There is no unique imperative for any country to use the death penalty.”
Although many African nations have abolished use of the death penalty in the past decade — including Guinea, Benin, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar — Botswana’s government claims it can be a good deterrent to prevent violent crimes.
In nearby Malawi, proponents say it prevents the murdering of people with albinism for ritual purposes. Amnesty international said earlier in February that more than 20 murders of people with albinism have been committed in Malawi since 2014.
In 2019, three Malawians were sentenced to death for the killing of a person with albinism. (See tomorrow’s posting – FVDK). But the country has not carried out any death sentence since 1994, joining other countries such as Zimbabwe that have been imposing death sentences but not carrying out executions.
Boniface Chibwana, coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Malawi’s bishop’s conference, told NCR he thinks African Catholic officials can be doing more to drum up support for the dropping of the death penalty across the continent.
“To deter crimes such as murder, the church needs to progressively and actively socialize the young using the human rights approach, so that many of its followers should grow in Christ while respecting the human rights culture to build societies where such rights as the protection of life are a norm,” he said.
In 2019, there was a 53% jump in death sentence convictions across sub-Saharan Africa compared to 212 convictions a year earlier. These death sentences resulted from murder convictions in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Popoola said Chad, which borders Libya, Niger and Sudan, was the latest country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
Fr. Dumisani Vilakati, director of the regional conference of Catholic bishops across southern Africa, told NCR that the church is often blamed for not being vocal enough against the death penalty. But he said the church “is part of the solution” for the promotion of the right to life, from conception to natural death.
“Here in Africa, we have to put the death penalty in the pro-life scheme that has been espoused by Pope Francis,” said Vilakati.
“We are a church that preaches conversion of human beings, and we believe that people can change for the better,” said the priest. “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”
Vilakati explained that there have been numerous wrongful convictions across the continent, and inmates are increasingly having to wait longer and longer for their trials to be conducted.
“What we need to do as a society is to educate people, and the church should play its role in espousing the sanctity of life [rather] than having society eliminating people through death penalty,” said Vilakati. “We should be pro-life and give people a second chance.”
The story presented below is not about ritual killing, or muti murders, as these crimes based on superstition and witchcraft are called in Southern Africa. It’s about the violent death of children including muti murder, however.
As stated in the article below, “According to official figures, around 1,000 children are murdered every year in South Africa, nearly three a day. But that statistic, horrific as it may be, may be an undercount.”.
The same applies for muti murders. The muti cases known are just the top of the iceberg.
For this reason I have decided to include the following article which was originally published by Associated Press (webmaster FVDK).
In South Africa, child homicides show violence ‘entrenched’
Published: December 22, 2020 By: KSAT.com / Associated Press – Gerald Imray And Bram Janssen
CAPE TOWN – At night, Amanda Zitho worries her little boy is shivering and cold in his coffin and yearns to take him a blanket. She knows Wandi’s dead and gone and it’s senseless, but that doesn’t stop the ache.
Wandi was 5 when he was killed in April, allegedly strangled with a rope by a Johannesburg neighbor — another dead child in a land where there are too many.
According to official figures, around 1,000 children are murdered every year in South Africa, nearly three a day. But that statistic, horrific as it is, may be an undercount.
Shanaaz Mathews thinks many more children are victims of homicides that are not investigated properly, not prosecuted or completely missed by authorities. The official figures are “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mathews, the director of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town and probably the country’s leading expert on child homicides.
In a country where more than 50 people are murdered every day, children are not special and are not spared.
“Violence has become entrenched” in the psyche of South Africa, Mathews said.
“How do we break that cycle?” she asked.
In 2014, she embarked on a research project to uncover the real extent of those child deaths. She did it by getting forensic pathologists to put the dead bodies of hundreds of newborn babies, infants, toddlers and teenagers on examination tables to determine exactly how they died.
Child death reviews are common in developed countries but had never been done in South Africa before Mathews’ project. As she feared, the findings were grim.
Over a year, the pathologists examined the corpses of 711 children at two mortuaries in Cape Town and Durban and concluded that more than 15% of them died as a result of homicides. For context, Britain’s official child death review last year found 1% of its child deaths were homicides. Mathews’ research showed homicide was the second most common cause of death for children in those two precincts.
“And the numbers are not going down,” she said. “If anything, they are going up.”
There are two patterns in South Africa. Teenagers are being swallowed up in the country’s desperately high rate of violent street crime. But also, large numbers of young children aged 5 and under are victims of deadly violence meted out not by an offender with a gun or a knife on a street corner, but by mothers and fathers, relatives and friends, in kitchens and living rooms, around dinner tables and in front of TVs.
Fatal child abuse is where the justice system often fails and cases are “falling through the cracks,” Mathews said.
There was, she says, the case of a 9-month-old child who had seizures after being dropped off at day care. Though rushed to the hospital, the child died.
Doctors found severe head injuries and told the mother to go to the police, but no one followed up. The mother never reported the death. When investigators tried to revive the case nearly two years later, the baby had long been buried and the evidence was cold.
Joan van Niekerk, a child protection expert, recounts numerous cases tainted by police ineptitude and corruption.
“I sometimes go through stages when I am more angry with the system than I am with the perpetrators and that’s not good,” she said. She said justice for children in South Africa is unacceptably “hard to achieve.”
And failures of justice sometimes lead to more deaths.
The neighbor originally charged with killing Wandi Zitho was released and the case provisionally dropped because the police didn’t deliver enough evidence, possibly because of a backlog in analyzing forensic evidence, according to one policeman working the case. Months later, the woman was arrested again and charged with murdering two other children.
Then there was the case of Tazne van Wyk.
Tazne was 8 when her body was found in February dumped in a drain near a highway nearly two weeks after she disappeared. She had been abducted, raped and murdered, police said.
Tazne’s parents blame the correctional system for paroling the man charged with their daughter’s murder despite a history of violent offenses against children. He’d already violated his parole once. They also fault police for failing to act on a tip that might have saved Tazne in the hours after her disappearance.
The case was high profile. The Minister of Police spoke at Tazne’s funeral and admitted errors. “We have failed this child,” he conceded, pointing at Tazne’s small white coffin, trimmed in gold. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the van Wyk home and promised meaningful action.
Nine months later, Tazne’s parents feel it was all lip service.
“How many children after Tazne have already passed away? Have been kidnapped? Have been murdered? Still nothing is happening,” said her mother, Carmen van Wyk.
She sheds no tears. Instead, anger bubbles inside her and her community. Houses connected with the suspect and members of his family were set on fire in the wake of Tazne’s killing.
It’s not just on the police to stop the abuse, said Marc Hardwick, who was a policeman for 15 years, 10 of them as a detective in a child protection unit.
He recalls one case, from 20 years ago. A 6-year-old girl was beaten to death by her father because she was watching cartoons and, distracted as any 6-year-old would be, wasn’t listening to him.
When they arrested the father and took him away — he was later sentenced to life in prison — the victim’s 9-year-old cousin approached Hardwick and said: “I think you stopped my bad dreams today.”
Clearly, children in that household had been living a nightmare, and the other adults had remained silent, said Hardwick: “The reality is that child abuse is not a topic people want to talk about.”
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,
A few days ago my attention was drawn by an Op-Ed article in an online Namibian newspaper, New Era Live. The article was entitled: “Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind“. It is a cry for attention, a cry for vigilance, a cry for leadership and for stiffer sanctions for those who are responsible for these heinous crimes, including traditional healers and – too often – relatives of the innocent victims, in many cases young children.
The anonymous author (a staff reporter) starts his or her plea stating “I want to share with you the excruciating pain that stabs my heart every time I read or hear about the senseless loss of life due to ritual or muti killings.”
I was shocked reading this. Is the present situation that bad? How frequent are ritual murrders (‘muti murders’) in Southern Africa?
I monitor relevant events in African countries with particular interest, as this site also demonstrates. Whereas I feel a kind of pride or joy when confronted with readers and/or reporters rejecting the repulsive practices of ritual or muti murders, it also hurts to see a confirmation of the plague that terrorizes too many people in too many African countries.
“One shudders to think about the many muti killings of people, young and old, that are happening almost on a daily basis in Southern Africa in particular, (…)”, the anonymous author continues.
Also revealing is the following statement:
“A study carried out in South Africa by scholars Randitsheni, Masoga and Madzusi (2017) revealed that “[some] pastors, businessmen, traditional leaders and leaders are involved in ritual murders”. The three scholars give more details of their research findings in their paper titled “Some perspectives on the impacts of ritual murders in the Vhembe district of South Africa: An interpretive phenomenological approach” which was published in the Journal of Social Sciences (Volume 48, Number 3). This is not to give an impression that ritual murders occur in South Africa only. Other scholars who have conducted researches in this area have revealed similar results in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Eswatini, Uganda, and Namibia, just to mention a few countries. “
I am flabbergasted. At the same time I am proud of the author and everyone who thinks alike. It strikes me that this cry for justice, for the eradication of this scourge in our contemporary societies, comes from Namibia. Apparently, much more occurs beneath the surface in this Southern African country than one would think at first glance. The ‘New Era’ newspaper which published this op-ed is a leading source of community and national news in Namibia. Its owners and editors are to be commended for their courageous decision to publish this view. May many more newspaper owners, editors and journalists join the war against ritualistic murders in Africa.
Together it will be possible to eradicate this medieval belief in superstition. Nothing is impossible. “You never fail until you stop trying.” (webmaster FVDK)
“Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind”
Published: October 22, 2020 By: New Era Live, Namibia
If you are reading this article, wherever you are, prepare to shed tears. Prepare to travel with me on this emotional journey, as I interrogate the evil that men do, that of ritual killings, which have left people questioning the essence of life, since some people can take it away from you or someone at once, just like that. I want to share with you the excruciating pain that stabs my heart every time I read or hear about the senseless loss of life due to ritual or muti killings.
The world has turned topsy-turvy, completely upside down, and everyone’s life is at risk, either directly or indirectly. People fear for their lives and the lives of their children and loved ones. Everyone’s life is in danger as there are some immoral people who have taken the law into their hands, and can decide how many more days you are left with alive on this earth. It is horrendous.
The stonehearted murderers can be anyone ranging from, paradoxically, people closest to you, to complete strangers. The love of riches and fame, the eagerness to get rich quickly without working for it, and the love of power and fame have led people to involve themselves in atrocious, inhuman activities. One shudders to think about the many muti killings of people, young and old, that are happening almost on a daily basis in Southern Africa in particular, and elsewhere in the world. Research reveals that ritual killings are so rampant in Africa that some researchers have described ritual murder as a pandemic. The grisly killings of innocent victims, especially children and women, have shocked communities, societies and the whole world.
Many unsuspecting victims have been lured by people they know and killed for ritual purposes. We have read and heard about small children and teenagers who have been brutally murdered by their close relatives. As you read this article, or as you sit there at home or in a classroom – wherever you are – always bear in mind that you may be a candidate for ritual murder. Many victims have lost their lives through the involvement of their close relatives or loved ones. In these cases, it becomes tricky for the law enforcement agents to prevent such murders as relatives and loved ones are supposed to take care of the children, and not to kill them.
The belief that a human being’s body parts or limps bring luck, riches and power to people has fuelled the crime of ritual killing. Corpses have been discovered without heads, private parts and internal organs, suggesting that these are the most sought-after parts to be used in muti or medicinal concoctions. As the evil men harvest human body parts for their benefits, societies are traumatised, yet it is in these societies that we find the perpetrators of this heinous crime. It is in these societies that most of the killings are secretly planned and executed. The irony is that some respectable members of these communities promote these ritual murders for various reasons. Some of them are leopards clothed in sheep’s skins.
A study carried out in South Africa by scholars Randitsheni, Masoga and Madzusi (2017) revealed that “[some] pastors, businessmen, traditional leaders and leaders are involved in ritual murders”. The three scholars give more details of their research findings in their paper titled “Some perspectives on the impacts of ritual murders in the Vhembe district of South Africa: An interpretive phenomenological approach” which was published in the Journal of Social Sciences (Volume 48, Number 3). This is not to give an impression that ritual murders occur in South Africa only. Other scholars who have conducted researches in this area have revealed similar results in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Eswatini, Uganda, and Namibia, just to mention a few countries. As I write, the Zimbabwean community is failing to come to terms with how a man could have allegedly taken part in the planning and ritual killing of his brother’s seven-year-old son. The account of the cold blooded murder of the fateful boy by the co-accused man, in this case, is available on Youtube for those who have the guts to listen to such a chilling narrative of a despicable act.
The ubiquity of ritual murders in Africa proves that the crime is a scourge in our contemporary societies. The crime is a cancer that is spreading in our societies at an alarming rate. The belief in supernatural powers and superstition are the driving forces of ritual murders and sacrificial killings in our societies. Traditional healers tell you, for example, that in order for you to be successful in life, you must kill your son or daughter, or someone you love dearly like your wife. Foolishly, some people believe this and they murder their loved ones for nothing. It is also true that the moral fabric of our societies is decaying at a fast rate. The African concept of Ubuntu seems to be melting away fast, leaving a culture of violence in our societies. One result of the loss of Ubuntu is that the sanctity of human life is no longer respected; this is why some people can be hired to kill for money.
Concerned researchers on ritual murders have gone to the extent of studying ancient civilisations. They have revealed that the bible is replete with sacrificial killings or offerings of human beings. In some religions, sacrificial killings happen today. In order to curb ritual murders, families should be vigilant and protect their children. Community leaders and politicians must denounce these killings at gatherings. Stiffer sentences must be imposed on criminals convicted of ritual murders. Let us teach the love of one another as humans in our homes. Ubuntu teachings should find a place in our homes. Let us be exemplary to our children since psychologists have proved that children learn what they live. Say no to ritual killings and save lives.
Allegedly, another case of muti murder in South Africa. Muti or muthi murder is the killing of a person with the intention to use body parts for ritual purposes to enhance one’s power, prestige or wealth. Muti murders occur frequently in Southern Africa, in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and eSwatini (formerly called Swaziland).
All ritualistic killings, including muti murders, are based on superstition. Its occurrence is widespread but nobody knows the exact number of victims of these gruesome and heinous crimes. As can be seen from the picture below, it is not an imaginary phenomenon which exists only in the minds of the people. The mere suspicion of a ritualistic killing draws large crowds, expressing their indignation, their fears and their protests against these medieval practices which cannot be left unpunished (webmaster FVDK).
Muthi suspected for murder of two Orange Farm kids
The discovery of bodies of two children in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, comes just five months after another child was killed in the same area under mysterious circumstances.
The community and families believe they may have been victims of muthi killings.
Mpho Makondo, 8, and Simphiwe Mncina, 6, were found dead on Saturday morning after they went missing on Friday night.
They were smudged with a black substance on their mouths and underneath their feet while a note, which their families did not see before it was taken by police as evidence, was left on Makondo’s body. No body parts were missing.
In April, Mzwandile Zitho was found dead in what his family believed was a ritual killing at a tavern about 2km from where community members discovered Mpho and Simphiwe’s bodies.
Mpho and Simphiwe, who lived three houses from each other, were last seen walking home from a salon about 400 metres from their homes.
The two children had accompanied Mpho’s aunt, Malehlohonolo Malatji, to the salon.
Mpho’s father, Moeketsi Malatji yesterday told Sowetan how horrified he was after finding his daughter lying naked, behind a boulder.
He described the children as best friends who were always together.
“The last person who saw them was my sister. They had gone to the salon down the road with her, but she told them to go home when it was getting dark at about 6pm,” Malatji said.
“We started a search party with the community, and went into every household in our neighbourhood and we didn’t find them. We stopped looking for them at about 4am on Saturday.”
Malatji said he received a call from his daughter’s mother at about 6am telling him that they had found the children.
“I could not hold back my tears when I saw my baby’s body lying next to a big rock. She was naked, her arm was broken, she had a grimace on her face, and there was a black substance in her mouth and under (the) feet,” he said.
Their bodies were found a few hundred metres away from each other.
Simphiwe’s body was dumped in someone’s yard and the note was left on his torso. He was not wearing any top and did not have shoes on.
His aunt, Lindiwe Mojafe, said: “They were innocent children. Why would anyone do this to them? They were never in the habit of playing too far from home. It’s very strange and scary how we found them. It has left us with more questions than answers.”
A community member who found Simphiwe’s body told Sowetan that he thought it was a muthi killing.
“I was going to work and I saw a body of a small boy in my yard. I was scared because I thought that people would think that I killed him and left him there. I called the police and other community members to come and see because I didn’t want to be arrested,” the community member said.
Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said the motive for the double murder was yet to be established, while a postmortem will be conducted.
“The investigation into this double murder will be prioritised and escalated to the Provincial Investigating Unit, in line with the SAPS position to prioritise the investigation of crimes committed against women, children and other vulnerable persons,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, in the Mzwandile Zitho, 5, case earlier in the year, Pontso Mohlanka was arrested and charged for the boy’s murder but charges against her were withdrawn on August 28.
Mzwandile’s grandmother, Nompumelelo Zitho, yesterday said she did not visit the scene where the killed children were found at the weekend because it gave her flashbacks of what happened to her grandson.
“I am still trying to come to terms with it. It’s worse now because we won’t find closure. The investigating officer told me that charges were withdrawn because there wasn’t enough evidence,” Zitho said.
People with albinism (PWA) in several countries in Southern Africa live in fear, notably in Zambia and Malawi, as the article presented below underlines. This is outrageous. People with albinism have basic human rights, just like everyone in their society. Governments should protect their citizens from these heinous attacks which are based on superstition. Murderers should not get away with their crimes. Laws are important to protect people, but law enforcement is equally important! (webmaster FVDK).
‘Make laws to protect people with albinism’
Published: September 12, 2020 By: The Southern Times, The Newspaper for Southern Africa – Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka – People with albinism (PWA) in Zambia have demanded strong legislation to protect them from misguided individuals who think culling their body parts can help them make magic potions.
The ritual killing of PWAs continues and stigmatisation of the pigment-related condition remains a challenge in many societies.
National Albinism Initiative Network of Zambia deputy executive director Ruth Zulu this week lamented the continued stigmatisation and murder of PWAs, saying the government needed a legal framework to specifically target these issues.
Such a framework, Zulu said, would also help mainstream albinism issues in national development.
In an interview with The Southern Times at a Zambia Albinism Awareness Programme workshop in Lusaka on Thursday, Zulu – an Environmental Engineering student at Copperbelt University – cited various incidences in which PWAs had been ritually killed or otherwise exploited.
“It is the obligation of our government under the leadership of President (Edgar)!Lungu to take up such a responsibility, answerably and enforceability. “Discrimination, marginalisation and social exclusion of PWAs have been reported as a global phenomenon and that is why we need apolicy to recognise these.
“The cycle of attacks, discrimination and poverty must be broken. There is value in having domestic laws and other measures which are unambiguous and effective protection of PWAs,” she said.
Albinism is a genetic condition that affects one in 20,000 people globally.
It is rare in people with lighter pigmentation and more common in Africa.
A Malawi court last year sentenced three people to death for killing a person with albinism.
The three chopped of the limbs of a person living with albinism with the intention of trafficking the body parts for ritual purposes.
I’ve hesitated to include the article below on this blog – partly because of the gruesome nature of the described act, partly because of the graphic description of the treatment, obviously a form of torture, which family members inflicted upon a girl they accused of witchcraft and being responsible for the death of an uncle.
Eventually I decided to reproduce the article here and to share it with a larger audience. The reason why I choose to do so is because witchcraft lies at the bottom of their repulsive behavior. This site is focusing on superstition and everything which relates to it in a criminal way: ritualistic acts, ritual murders, ‘money rituals’ (Nigeria), muti murders (in Southern Africa), and – indeed – witchcraft. The fact that the ultimate victim, a young and innocent girl, was maltreated and tortured was another reason for drawing attention to this incident. Unfortunately, rape is a daily crime in Liberia and most perpetrators get away with their crimes. In Liberia, impunity seems to be the rule, and not the rule of law.
Therefore, again a warning: the following article contains graphic details of a form of torture (webmaster FVDK).
Liberia: Adolescent Girl Sodomized After Being Thrown Out for Witchcraft
Published: July 3, 2020 By: FrontPage Africa
MONROVIA – A girl believed in her late teens has been sexually assaulted in her anus after she was thrown out of her family in Omega Tower Community on accusation on her beingwitchcraft.
According to a source close to the family, the incident occurred on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 night when she was asleep.
The girl (name withheld) was discovered early Wednesday morning lying helpless on the main road that links Montserrado to Margibi, crying for rescue.
Some community members felt pity for her, took her from the street, gave her food and water. They at the same time called the Women and Children Division of the Liberia National Police to take the survivor to hospital for treatment.
Her current condition has left community members blaming her family for neglecting her and throwing her out of the house after alleging that she confessed killing her 25 years old uncle (name withheld) in May of this year after a brief period of illness.
A family source interviewed by this paper narrated that after the death of the uncle, the survivor and her partners were tortured and beaten badly on grounds that they are responsible for his death. This, according to the source, caused her mother and father to escape with her other siblings leaving her at the mercy of the family.
“During the night when her uncle died,” the eyewitness said, “that child was beaten by his family and a man who claimed to be a big man in the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) at which time they broke one of her legs.”
“After all the torture, they still threw her out of the house, they forgot to even take into consideration the danger it poses to her health, not only the aspect of rape.”
“I do not know why people find pleasure in accusing innocent children of the act of witchcraft when, in fact, there is no way they can prove their accusations,” the eyewitness said in pity.
The eyewitness said after the death of the survivor’s uncle the family members brought a native doctor who said that girl and her partners were responsible for his death.
“After the native doctor was brought here, the family said that the girl confessed that she and her partners killed her uncle because he means them with food,” the eyewitness said.
The eyewitness expressed deep frustration in said aptitude adding that “I do not know who the man that did such a wicked act to a child in such condition.”
According to the eyewitness, the LNP Children Division was able to take the child to the hospital.
“What we are praying for now is not just the treatment of the child but an investigation being done to bring the perpetrator to justice and even the family because they were the ones who exposed her to such danger.”
In Liberia, rape has become the order of the day with few out of many girls who have suffered such horrible acts from their male counterparts are lucky to get the needed justice.
With many perpetrators understanding that the justice system is very weak, they go ahead to sexually abused girls and walk in the street with impunity.
The murder of Thabelo Mazolo in Zimbabwe inspired Bruce Ndlovu, the author of the article reproduced below, to dwell on the phenomenon of ritualistic murders, muti or muthi murders as they are called in Southern Africa. The staggering details of recent murder cases in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are shocking. The author is to be commended for his frankness to expose and discuss these heinous crimes which have no place in the 21st century.
Warning: the following article contains many graphic details as to how these murders are committed (webmaster FVDK).
Murder economy: The business, science behind ritual killings
Published: June 21, 2020 By: Nehanda Radio – Bruce Ndlovu
“You must cut yourself and spill your blood onto a mirror,” the message to Tawana Ngwenya reportedly read. “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.”
The messages, from a South African sangoma, were allegedly part of a chain of instructions to Ngwenya, messages that allegedly led him to take the life of Tawana Mazolo at Matsheumhlophe, Bulawayo.
The messages were witchcraft delivered digitally, as the unknown sangoma, from his lair somewhere in one of South Africa’s nine provinces gave Ngwenya instructions on how to spill blood and in the aftermath, prepare for a life of riches.
The details of the alleged murder are gruesome. Half of Mazolo’s body, from the waist down, was missing while her breasts and palms were cut off. On the surface, the tragic killing of Mazolo already looks like a ritual murder. The grizzly details suggest that this indeed is the case.
After all, every once in a while, the pages of publications in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries drip with the blood of innocents murdered at the altar of self-enrichment.
There was the case of Edmore Rundogo, whose dismembered remains were found in Maun, about 500km from Botswana’s second city of Francistown.
Rundogo had left his home in Lobengula West (Bulawayo) in search of a better life in Botswana. Instead of the proverbial greener pastures on the other side of the Plumtree border, he had found machete-wielding men who savagely murdered him, ripping his heart out.
The five killers also cut off his hands, feet, privates and took part of his brains. The killers, after being told by the traditional healer that had hired them that they had killed the wrong person, had then tried to burn his body.
South of the Limpopo, there was the case of 10-year-old Masego Kgomo, a schoolgirl who was still alive when Brian Mangwale ripped out her womb.
During the course of his trial for murder, Mangwale would change his story three times, a fact that the courts took as evidence that he had no remorse for his actions. In one of the three accounts he claimed that he and a group of friends had taken the young girl to a traditional healer in Soshanguve, who gave them a concoction to drink before he dragged the crying Masego into a room.
The girl was still crying when the traditional healer returned with her 10 minutes later and started sprinkling something on her body.
Mangwale claimed the medicine man had then returned with a knife and a clay pot and ordered Masego to lie down on a bed.
When she refused, she was forcibly held down while the traditional healer stabbed her in the stomach, put his hand inside her body and removed something that looked like a ball, which he put into the clay pot. He also removed her left breast.
Mangwale told the magistrate he heard the others had wrapped the child’s body in plastic and drank muthi before dumping her body in the veld on the instructions of the traditional healer.
While his testimony kept changing, the courts were convinced that Kgomo had died after meeting the nasty end of Mangwale’s knife. A life in prison sentence was handed to the killer.
Body parts are big business in Africa, but particularly in South Africa where trade in human body parts is lucrative. In the race to get rich in places like the City of Gold, Johannesburg, some believe that the key to getting their hand on all that glitters is taking a shortcut.
Many Zimbabweans, like Mazolo, can trace their gruesome ritual death to powerful sangomas south of the Limpopo. While Ngwenya was the one allegedly wielding the instrument of death when Mazolo took her last painful breath, this is not always the case.
Middle men, like in the case of Mangwale, are usually the ones that handle the dirty work. According to South African scholar Louise Vincent, certain gangs specialise in killing people for the harvesting of body parts only.
“It is believed that certain murder gangs specialise in muthi killings. Unlike human sacrifice where death is the express purpose of the act, in muthi-related killings, death is an anticipated and accepted by-product of the garnering of human organs but it is not the main aim.
Indeed, it is often preferred that the victim remain alive during the process. When body parts, including internal organs, are removed while the victim is still alive it is believed that the power of the resultant medicine will be greatly enhanced. Depending on the wants of potential customers, the instructions that the sangomas give specifics.
“Sangomas seldom do the killing themselves. The order will include not only specifications as to which particular body part or parts are required — testicles for virility purposes, fat from the breasts or abdomen for luck, tongues to smooth the path to a lover’s heart — but the very specific manner in which they are to be collected.
“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. For this reason, a victim is often carefully chosen — not just any person’s penis as a cure for male infertility, for instance, but that of a man with several healthy children.”
Those who grew up in Zimbabwe urban areas will recall how the shadow of ritual murder has never been far off the horizon. Some, no doubt, know of the stories of businessmen who are said to have suddenly turned rich after they lost a spouse or a child. That child, or any other loved one, is assumed to be the blood sacrifice that was necessary for their businesses to turn a sudden corner.
Such perceptions of course, may be nothing but jealous rumour, but they are not helped by actual cases like that of Robert Tazvireva, a bottle store and general dealership owner in Magunje who allegedly instructed Samuel Mushonga in 2017 to murder his own sister so he could enhance his business.
After Mushonga had allegedly fatally stabbed his sister and hacked off her head, he delivered it to Tazvireva who told him to hide it in a nearby bush. Such instances, have helped convince many that businesspeople profit from the spilling of blood.
“‘If the business is not doing well, get a boy or a girl’s head — someone who has a future — and your business will have a future too,” said Dr Gordon Chavunduka time president of the Zimbabwean Traditional Healers Association, once said.
Those who grew up in Bulawayo in the late 90s will remember the myth of men who reportedly drove around the city with a blood sucking frog, looking for unsuspecting victims to profit from.
While such urban legends have never been confirmed, they are an entertaining reminder that people live on the constant lookout for people trying to profit off their ritual sacrifice.
“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,” says Fanuel Hadzidzi of Gender Links.
“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 businesspeople 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!”
With claims of human body parts sold by vendors on the streets of South Africa and other countries, it may be a long time before ritual killings lose their lustre to those trying to make a quick dollar.