Uganda: human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

The death penalty as a deterrent – or as a revenge. Will this legal sanction provide a solution to the curse of ritual murders and the end of superstition in Uganda? 

Whereas all actions of the government to end ritual killing in the country must be applauded, I personally believe more in education as a tool to end these heinous crimes than in the capital punishment – which is considered a violation of the basic, human rights of the perpetrator(s) and for this reason rejected by the international community

Having said this, the following article contains a chilling mention of the state of affairs in Uganda with respect to the occurrence of ritual murders (‘human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon‘). 
(webmaster FVDK)

Human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

Businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi (right) appears at the Supreme Court early last year during hearing of his appeal against his conviction for murdering 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye in 2012. Persons found guilty of committing acts of mutilating and or causing death of another person for purposes of performing a ritual, and those found in possession of human body parts, will suffer death upon conviction. PHOTO /JULIET KIGONGO.

Published: May 6, 2021
By: Daily Monitor, Uganda – Esther Oluka, Arthur Arnold Wadero 

Whoever will be found guilty of sacrificing a person for ritual purposes faces a maximum punishment of death following the passing of a law on human sacrifice.

The Human Sacrifice Bill (2020), once assented to by the President, will also see those who finance acts of human sacrifice facing death.
Clause 1 of the Bill defines human sacrifice as killing, mutilation, removal of organs or body parts of a person for sale or for purpose of witchcraft, rituals or any harmful human practices. 

While presenting the Private Member’s Bill yesterday, which was overwhelmingly supported, Ayivu MP Benard Atiku argued that the current law does not provide for the offence of human sacrifice and that the human sacrifice related cases are prosecuted as murder or related offences under the Penal Code Act.

Human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon involving people who seek quick means of amassing wealth or power. 
A renowned case is that of 2008 involving Joseph Kasirye, a boy (then aged 12 years) whose torso was found in a swamp, headless and with no genitals.

Businessman Kato Kajubi was found guilty of murder and was handed life imprisonment on conviction.
A section of MPs welcomed the passing of the Bill. 

“In fact, it is long overdue. Human sacrifice is not only inhumane but it is evil,” Mbale Woman MP Connie Galiwango said. 
Ms Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP) and Gulu Woman MP, said she did not understand why people were sacrificing children. 

“You go to a witchdoctor expecting to give you riches, yet that witchdoctor stays in a grass-thatched hut?” Ms Ocan wondered.
Kasese Municipality MP Robert Centenary commended the passing of the Bill after reasoning that adults are victims too. 

Previously, the perpetrators of human sacrifice have targeted people with specific features, including albinos, those without body piercings, big umbilical cords, a gap in their front teeth, among other features. 

Authorities, including police and religious leaders, have repeatedly highlighted that there is no connection between human sacrifice and riches. 
Meanwhile, Mr Emmanuel Jor Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP, had earlier recommended a harsher punishment for human sacrifice culprits. 

“I suggest that the people involved in the practice should be tried by the military and if found guilty, be put on firing squad because we really want to deter people from this practice.” 

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga stated that Parliament had now provided an opportunity for justice to all the victims of human sacrifice. 

“On a number of occasions, when children delegations come to visit me at Parliament, they ask me: ‘where is justice for Kasirye’. I think today (yesterday), we can answer that question and say that Parliament has now provided an avenue for justice for Kasirye and other victims like him,” Ms Kadaga said. 
Children often the most victims of human sacrifice.  

More on the Bill
●  Clause 5 says whoever encourages or advises any person to use human body parts in any ritual or their use in any treatment or other forms of healing would be liable to life imprisonment.
●  Under Clause 6, whoever is found in possession of human body parts and instruments of human sacrifice is liable to life imprisonment.
●  Clause 9 provides for psychosocial support to survivors of human sacrifice. 
●  Clause 10 provides for compensation, rehabilitation or restitution to be made by court in certain cases.

Source: Human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

Malawi: Police ask witchdoctors for help against attacks on albinos

It is unprecedented what recently happened in northern Malawi, in the Chitipa district, which is the country’s most northern district, near the Malawian-Zambian border. The police have asked witchdoctors and traditional herbalists to help in the protection of people with albinism (PWA).

Malawi has a relatively large number of people with albinism, an estimated 10,000. Attacks on them are frequent, people with albinism fear for their lives every second of the day. Reportedly, more than 200 attacks, kidnappings, mutilations and murders of persons with albinism have occurred since 2014. However, it must be feared that the real number is higher since not all incidents have been reported. 

Witchdoctors are allowed to practice in Malawi though – of course – officially the Malawian law does not recognize witchcraft. Superstition, however, is widespread in the country, hence also the use of the services of witchdoctors, an unknown number of them being somehow associated – to say the least – to the attacks on persons with albinism.  

The cry for assistance from the Malawian police directed to witchdoctors and  traditional herbalists is therefore remarkable. Is it comparable to asking mafia leaders help fighting murderers, kidnappers and other bandits? I don’t know whether this comparison is justified or whether it holds. In any case, the police asking witchdoctors to help against attacks on persons with albinism is a sign of incapacity, read: disqualification. If the police is unable to uphold the rule of law, Malawians have a serious problem and it is high time to have a serious debate on the organization and funding of the police force.

Recently, Amnesty International concluded that the trial of suspects of ritual murders is slow in Malawi. The question seems warranted: Is there a lack of political will? After all, it is common knowledge that in the past political forces and people have been implicated in the attacks on persons with albinism for ritual purposes. I have reported on these links on more than one occasion (e.g. see a recent posting dated April 30, 2021, and my postings of February 26, May 12, and August 28, 2019).
If this lack of political will is indeed the case, turning to witchdoctors for help is close to hypocrisy and useless, ineffective, and the problem will not be solved, the human rights of persons with albinism will continue to be under threat. 
(webmaster FVDFK)

Malawi: Police Ask ‘Witch-Doctors’ for Help Against Attacks On ‘Albinos’

Persons with albinism attending a meeting at State House

Published: May 4, 2021
By: Nyasa Times – Gladys Chingaipe 

“This would help to provide more protection to people with albinism.”

In an unprecedented manner, police in the northern tip of Malawi have gone on their bended knees and asked traditional herbalists and witchdoctors to help them in the fight against the incessant attacks on people with albinism.

Chitipa Police Station Officer, Dan Sowden in a desperate attempt to end the ongoing ritual killings and egregious human rights violations of the worst kind instigated specifically against people with albinism in the district and the country as a whole has asked traditional healers to work hand in hand with the police.

Snowden made the call last week during a meeting with herbalists and witchdoctors at Chitipa Boma where he expressed a growing concern and explained that there is a general outcry that herbalists and witchdoctors are suspected to be involved in attacks on people with albinism, hence the need to include them in efforts to end the vice.

He said: “We have established that it could be that those who are involved in the vice are not perhaps the real herbalists or genuine witchdoctors but may be some unscrupulous people with evil motives just posing and impersonating as herbalists and witchdoctors.”

“We know for a fact that both herbalists and witchdoctors exists to help people in a traditional way to solve traditional related problems and not to harm anyone and for that reason, we have therefore resolved that the herbalists and witchdoctors should be ambassadors and in the forefront to provide protection to people with albinism by reporting anyone who approaches them on issues to do with people with albinism.”

The police officer in-charge who is responsible for all security in the district called upon herbalists (and witchdoctors) in the district to be more organised and get licenses so that people could easily identify and report anyone falsely pretending to be a traditional healer.

President for Northern Region Traditional Healers, Edward Kayange said: “As herbalists, we are ready to work with the police in order to completely eradicate violence and discrimination against people with albinism.

“We will make sure that all traditional healers have certificates from one body to avoid confusion amongst ourselves. We will form committees which will be working hand in hand with the police and chiefs to report anyone involved in the malpractice,” he pointed out.

Chairperson for Chitipa District Association of People with Albinism, Mabvuto Lwinga said it was a step in the right direction for herbalists and witchdoctors alike to be working with the police.

“This is a good development. I am very optimistic that this would help to provide more protection to people with albinism,” said Lwinga.

The law in Malawi, however, does not recognise witchcraft although traditional healers and witchdoctors are allowed to practice their trade

‘Extra gear’

People with albinism are born with lighter than normal skin, hair and eye colour, making them sensitive to the sun and bright light and in some communities, especially among the African people they are attacked or even killed for their body parts which is erroneously believed to posses magical powers.

Since 2014 more than 200 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the Southern African landlocked nation.

According to United Nations (UN) human rights experts despite various moves to support people with albinism, the continued attacks demonstrate that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to end the ongoing atrocities.

UN’s Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero said: “We call on the Government of Malawi to urgently address the root causes of these attacks and to strengthen nationwide campaigns to raise awareness, conduct robust investigations and prosecutions in all cases, increase protection for victims, and finance and implement all necessary measures.”

Ero is on record having said that some witchcraft practices result in “serious human violations” such as torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities.

Maria Jose Torres, UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi says that the UN remains concerned about continued attacks against persons with albinism.

“We call on the government of Malawi to engage an extra gear in the fight against attacks on persons with albinism. We need to do more to ensure that this comes to a complete end.

Habiba Osman, Executive Secretary for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said in an interview with Nyasa Times that the ongoing attacks on persons with albinism is a chilling reminder that Malawi as a country needs to do more to protect people with albinism because they are not safe.

“These attacks on persons with albinism is largely fuelled by a culture of impunity. The government must tighten the noose on anyone suspected to have committed this heinous crime. Persons with albinism like anyone else are protected by the law,” said Osman.

Before being elected president, Malawi leader, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera rode on a wave that if elected, he would make sure that attacks on people with albinism will be put to an end.

“When I become president, anyone found killing, abducting or discriminating against any person with albinism will be dealt severely and face the long arm of the law.”

A recent Amnesty International (AI) report observes that the rate at which cases are concluded in Malawi is slow compared to other crime investigations.

There are approximately about 10,000 persons with albinism in Malawi.

Source: Malawi: Police Ask ‘Witch-Doctors’ for Help Against Attacks On ‘Albinos’

Zimbabwe Senator Nyambuya: ‘Ritual murder instigators should face stiff sanctions’

Last week, Senator Mike Nyambuya spoke at the sad occasion of the burial of the two children, cousins Dilan and Melissa Benza (both seven years old), who were murdered for ritualistic purposes on April 13. Among the suspects arrested is Dilan’s maternal uncle.

Their fate cause much unrest in the country where emotions were already high after the ritual killing of a boy, Tapiwa Makore, seven years old, who was brutally murdered, also by his uncle, in September 2020. I reported extensively on his tragic death. Due to certain circumstances I haven’t yet reported on the ritual murder of the Benza cousins. Hopefully I will in the near future.

Senator Nyambuya’s remarks struck me, not only because of the contents of his message but also because his name reminded me of my very close friend Muchaneta Nyambuya. May his soul rest in peace. Muchaneta and I were colleagues at the University of Liberia where we were both teaching at the College of Business and Public Administration and we became close friends. In the late 1970s, a surge in ritualistic murders caused much upheaval in Liberia and I asked Muchaneta whether this phenomenon was unique for Liberia. Read here what he had to say to my question.

I have learned a lot after these years in Liberia. More than 40 years have passed since then. Mucha, as we affectionally called him, left for Zimbabwe on the eve of the official independence of his country. Following the Lancaster House Agreement, Zimbabwe became an independent republic in April 1980. The days of Ian Smith, who in 1965 had made history with his Unilateral Declaration of Independence, were definitely over. The new strongman was Robert Mugabe. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. I will not dwell on his fate, Mucha’s. He died suddenly and unexpectedly, after what people call ‘a 24-hour treatment’ in the interrogation rooms of Zimbabwe’s secret police. But that’s another story.

Back to 2021 in Zimbabwe and the recent surge in ritual murders. 
(webmaster FVDK).

‘Ritual Murder Instigators Should Face Stiff Sanctions’

Published: May 1, 2021
By: Pindula, Zimbabwe

Senate deputy president Senator Mike Nyambuya has called for the enactment of legislation to punish people who incite others to perform ritual murders.

Nyambuya was speaking on Friday last week at the burial of the slain Benza cousins at the Benza homestead in Kanganya Village in Mutasa, Manicaland Province.

Dilan and Melissa Benza (both seven years old), who were cousins and pupils at St Robert’s Mbaza Primary School in Mutasa, were brutally murdered on their way home from school on 13 April.

The prime suspect is Solomon Manyama, Dilan’s maternal uncle, while Passmore Sambaza is another suspect.

They were both remanded in custody to 6 May when they appeared at Nyanga magistrate’s court last week on Tuesday facing murder charges.

The Benza family spokesperson, Johannes Benza, revealed that the two were not killed at the same spot as was initially thought.

Benza said Melissa was the first to be killed on the grass near the Blair toilet where their bodies were dumped, while Delane was slain in a maize field near the Sambaza homestead.

Speaking at the burial which was attended by over 500 people, Nyambuya said the two cousins’ deaths had touched the whole nation. He said:

It could have been one of your children or grandchildren dying in such a cruel manner. It could have been any one of us here being murdered in cold blood because these ritual killers know no age. We are still in shock.

Where have our norms and values gone to? We should respect the sanctity of human life. Laws should be enacted to punish the perpetrators and those who incite people to conduct ritual killings.

The nation is still mourning the death of Tapiwa Makore from Murehwa and now we are burying the two Benza children who were ruthlessly murdered.

We don’t know who will be the next victim. Communities should be on the lookout for ritual killers. All those convicted should face the full wrath of the law.

Tapiwa Makore was also 7-years-old when he was brutally murdered by his uncle Tapiwa Makore Sr and his herdsman Tafadzwa Shamba in September last year.

He was buried several months after his murder without his head and other body parts which were allegedly harvested for ritual purposes.

Source: ‘Ritual Murder Instigators Should Face Stiff Sanctions

Related:

Article with the same contents:
Enact Legislation To Punish Those Who Incite Others To Perform Ritual Murders
Publishedby : ZimEye / Manica Post – May 1, 2021

Zimbabwe: Police engage chiefs over ritual murders, other vices

An abundance of activities have been undertaken following the surge in ritualistic murders in Zimbabwe.

Let’s hope that it’s not in vain (webmaster FVDK).  

Police engage chiefs over ritual murders, other vices

Mashonaland East province has an area of 32,230 km² and a population of approximately 1.35 million . Marondera is the capital of the province.
Picture shows one the attractions of Gosho Park, a conservation area of approximately 340 hectares of land on the Springvale Estate , situated in Mashonaland East.

Published: April 29, 2021
By: News Day, Zimbabwe – Jairos Saunyama    

Police in Mashonaland East province this week held a meeting with local traditional leaders as part of efforts to curb the rise in criminal activities, especially ritual murders.

Officer Commanding Mashonaland East police Commissioner Grace Ndou said there was need for law enforcement agents to work with the traditional leaders to combat crime and urged chiefs to warn their subjects against engaging in “weird” practices.

“Ritual murders are now making our society dangerous to live in. Our children are living in fear and parents are grappling with deep fear as well, fearing the worst each passing day. As a united community, we can work together to create an environment where our children can safely live,” Ndou said.

“As our chiefs, we believe in your counsel to dispel some beliefs in some of the people who believe in weird ritual acts that may be behind these ritual murders.”

Other crimes that have been prevalent in the province include domestic violence, stocktheft and murder.

Provincial chiefs’ council chairperson Chief Nechombo, who is also a senator, hailed the police for the engagement and emphasised that traditional leaders would play their part in combating crime.

The province has recorded several murder cases among them, the Tapiwa Makore ritual murder that occurred in Nyamutumbu area, Murewa, in September last year.

Source: Police engage chiefs over ritual murders, other vices

Legal expert, Zimbabwe: ‘Time to look beyond ritual murderers’

The following reflection is important. It shows that there are good-hearted and highly educated Zimbabweans who convincingly argue that the recent ritual murders necessitate an adjustment of the country’s laws. This reaction is partly motivated by the ritualistic killing of Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa and the two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa (see my previous postings).

The author of the article presented below also focuses on a person who is often behind these ritual killings: the songoma or faith healer. Too often, the songoma is left out of the investigations following the ritual murder and not implicated in the trial of the actual killer(s) whereas in fact the songoma can be considered an important driving force behind the heinous crime which is committed during the murderous traditional ritual.

Let’s monitor how swiftly Zimbabwe’s rulers including lawmakers and the judiciary act!
I will keep you informed (webmaster FVDK).

Time to look beyond ritual murderers

Published: April 30, 2021
By: Zimbabwe Independent –  Sharon Hofisi  

I ONCE represented people charged with murder in court. That was where I had my first real encounter with the subject of intentional or negligent killing. It was not a positive experience. Nevertheless, I got some acquittals. I remember the cases well. They took my inexperienced product of law school and taught me to understand the criminal laws and procedures of this country with deep preparation. So I took the cases on a pro deo basis. Put simply, this means acting for God. But with the increasing ritual killings, a lack of deliberate offences on ritual killings and honour crimes is a serious lacuna in our criminal justice system.

The purpose of criminal laws should mirror the nature of the society itself. Societies that are governed through laws are called to heal the divisions caused by violators of the law. When a society seems to be in danger of endless commissions of heinous crimes, focusing too much on investigation machinery and work and neglecting criminal law reform may pose further deep seated challenges. What often happens, however, is that even if the laws are reformed, we need to guard against reactionary responses to endemic problems. If the purpose of criminal law reform is to curb impunity in all forms of killings and deal decisively with utter disregard of the sanctity of human life, then a law can be a healthy first step in protecting the rights of vulnerable sections of society such as women, children, persons with albinism and other disabilities.

Even a criminal law reform committee will be horrified to learn that ritual motivators are not part of the suspects to be arrested. We are encouraged by the fact that our criminal laws allow for the arrest and prosecution of accomplices. But psyched people are usually afraid of the unknown. The psyched ritual killers strike fast, simultaneously attacking unsuspecting children or persons with disabilities.

The details that usually emerge after the gruesome killings are too numerous and disturbing. We definitely cannot bring our conscience to understand the difference between the actual killer and the one who motivates the killer to do so. The killer believes it is going to be an “all-for-purple-life” killing. Later, he is taught that the act was natural after all when he gets caught. It was his darkest ritual psyched moments that brought the longest, bloodiest, most heinous crimes to carry out. It costs innocent lives and no financial rewards as promised. And most families of the killers are left destitute. The breadwinner is locked up and the family is drawn into incessant wars of appeasing vengeful spirits as contemplated in our traditional faiths.

The hideous scars born by the families of the victims will last a very long time. But these ritual killing motivators are cunning and they will continue to hoodwink many people into psyched killings. They may never get their comeuppance. Certainly the time has come to act decisively on criminal law reform on ritual murder and honour crimes in Zimbabwe. Legislation, the passing of Acts in Parliament, is the most important of Parliament’s many tasks. I believe many stakeholders can agree on the explanatory memorandum for a Ritual Murders and Honour Crimes Bill. The long title of that Bill can deal with issues relating to the ritual murders and honour crimes and other purposes connected with these issues. The enacting formula can be decided by the nature of offences being committed usually against vulnerable sections of societies such as children, elderly women, persons with disabilities and so forth.

Perhaps the major point to grasp about ritual killings is that a psychic person, or even a bogus part of a psychic person, promises someone a lavish lifestyle once a heinous crime is committed. It could be the killing of a sibling, distant relative or some stranger. Exactly what is meant by “ritual” is not necessarily obvious since the killing of the person is controlled by the killer who uses the elaborate descriptions from the psychic leader. A small change in the psychic instructions can make a huge difference – so we hear from failed ritual killing missions. Each small step is catalysed and crystallised by the need for hot porridge riches. Many of these random killings may do the killer no harm if he observes the instructions (muko). Sometimes the killer will destroy the fighting powers of the deceased through some further rituals, kutsipika ngozi. This means that in any event, the killer is fully aware that they intentionally committed murder.

Reading stories about gruesome murders of young children by people who were promised material or financial gains tests our resolve as a polity of relationships between crime and fighting crime. We are given a set of criminal instances and must choose another set of responses that is related in the same way.

Many reforms of criminal laws are possible. Reading the modus operandi of criminals test our ability to understand and interpret the criminal laws we can promulgate in response. This is probably the most important ability we need as a society at the moment.

In analysis of the killings of children in our media reportages, we are presented with situations detailing criminal events and then a result of something that is steered by someone who is believed to possess some supernatural or magical powers to make people rich, overnight.

Our task is to decide in the legal and non-legal fraternity whether certain statements or motivations to commit crimes provide adequate explanations of how we can curb violent crimes. Each new crime provides us with a new format for criminal law reform.

For Zimbabwe and the disturbing killings, it’s now much more than just a usual ritual murder, headlines and efficient state response. We need to move beyond crime scene visits and the arrest of suspects. Ritual murders are now shaping an entire generation of criminal inquiry. It’s now the time to transform the changing and disturbing criminal scenes of the last ten or so years into a clear and widely-reformed criminal justice system in Zimbabwe. The motivating variable in this urgent need for criminal justice reform is steeped in legal realism. Law may be stable, but it cannot stand still if I may employ Roscoe Pound’s philosophy.

Are these ritual crimes something reflective of honour crimes, where relatives and close acquaintances are the pawns in the much bigger chess game? Barely when the Makore killing had left our minds we hear of the gruesome murder of two children. Zimbabwe has witnessed the targeted ritual killings which encourage criminal responsibility to be broadened in scope. Each killing achieves a disturbing measure of brutality and mental intention to kill. The recurring pattern of failed rituals that are broken by arrest of the suspects and eventual incarceration of such suspects all have at most one thing in common: each killing in its own way forces the killer and the ritual motivator to forge an unholy alliance; share the same mental and actual intention to kill, only from the opposite perspective.

The actual killer is psyched to kill. The ritual motivator psyches the ultimate killer. Each fails to see that confronted with effective investigation machinery the prospective ritual will inevitably not succeed. Equally gruesomely, each fails to see that the criminal path between hatching a heinous act of killing and frenzied killing act is not only false but leads towards a catastrophic breakdown of the family fabric.

The falsity of the ritual shows that one or two or more or many suspects are arrested. The ritual motivator, the instigator of the death of the innocent young souls remains. He or she continues hoodwinking many people into killing many young children.

All in the name of enhancing business or getting filthy money! Here too, there is more criminality in the sangoma or faith healer than criminal intention in the actual killer. The sangoma or ritual motivator does not simply aim to alleviate poverty through the loss of innocent blood of a family member, gruesome murder, psyched actions, and so forth. Efforts to control and encourage killing, no matter how important or necessary, are only one aspect of “intentional killing”. The sanctity of human life, and human life itself, as we know from our Constitution and even various types of our faiths, depend on more than the alleviation of poverty and the satisfaction of material needs. The reason for which we were created is to enjoy life and the maker of it forever.

Hofisi is a transformative transitional justice practitioner, normative influencer and disruptive thinker.

Source: Time to look beyond ritual murderers

Burkina Faso: traditional spiritual rituals providing protection

The belief in supernatural powers is an important driving force behind ritual murders. Yet there exists another area in which the belief in supernatural powers is crucial. The following two articles focus on traditional spiritual practices which provide protection against violence and aggression to its believers and users.

The objective of including these articles here is to offer the reader insight into the cultural side of spiritual practices and rituals. After all, is is easy – and absolutely warranted from various points of view – to condemn ritual murders, but in order to fight effectively these crimes which constitute gross human rights violations we must understand the minds of the perpetrators of these intolerable and outdated crimes.

For this reason I found it justified to include the following two articles. To avoid any misunderstanding: the ritual practices described below have nothing to do with ritual murders.
(webmaster FVDK).

Burkina Faso fighters seek protection with spiritual rituals

Published: April 29, 2021
By: Star Tribune, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Minnesota, Associated Press – Sam Mednick

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Antoine Ouedraogo didn’t run when Islamic extremist fighters killed his colleagues only feet away from him in northern Burkina Faso. Instead, the 53-year-old says, he simply recited a secret word and became invisible.

The father of 17, who used to arrest bandits and now fights the extremists as part of a local defense militia, says a secret medicine he took as a child continues to protect him from bullets and machetes.

“As adults, we still have that medicine inside of us,” he said. “Even now if something happens, I can disappear.”

Fighters like Ouedraogo are putting their faith in these traditional spiritual practices to protect them as attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State ravage the West African nation, killing thousands and displacing more than 1 million people. The deeply rooted tradition holds that plants, animals and ritual objects mixed with verses from holy texts can provide protection before going to battle.

“Before someone faces a challenge, they know there are supernatural powers and spirits they can call upon in any situation,” said Jean Celestin Ky, professor of history at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University in Ouagadougou.

People have believed in these powers since the beginning of time and it remains strong in Burkina Faso because it’s been passed down from generations, he said.

Some people say the practice is rooted in animism, the belief that all things, from rocks and trees to animals and places, have a spirit. Approximately 15% of Burkina Faso’s population identify as animists, according to a report from the International Crisis Group, which says the belief holds considerable weight in the majority-Muslim country.

However, cultural anthropologists say regardless of the origins, what the rituals speak to is human nature when faced with violence.

“These fighters are taking incredible risks, often risks that they don’t understand and can’t control and that it’s hard to imagine anybody in that position who doesn’t rely on a really complicated set of belief systems and sometimes magical thinking in order to stay safe and understand their place in the world,” said Danny Hoffman, chair of the African Studies Program at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, who researched fighters using spiritual protections during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

Fighters in Burkina Faso were reluctant to divulge too much about the process and types of plants used, saying those are kept secret even from family members.

But they explained that one way to become “bulletproof” involves mixing 13 plants, inserting the paste into food and eating it out of a hole in the ground. The meal is prepared with water that was used to soak a metal arrow for 72 hours — the idea being that since the arrow is metal, a person will be protected from the heat of the bullet if shot.

While many Burkinabe grew up familiar with these practices, some never participated in them until the jihadis arrived several years ago.

Soumaila, a 19-year-old volunteer fighter tasked with helping the army combat extremists in rural parts of the country, said he only started using spiritual protection for the first time when jihadis attacked his village in the north.

Even before receiving a gun, community leaders gave Soumaila and other fighters bracelets, rings and special clothing that would stave off severe injury and death, he said. The AP is only using his first name to protect his identity as he feared reprisals for speaking to journalists.

Soumaila has survived at least 10 clashes with jihadis over a year and a half, a feat he attributes to a custom-made jacket he believes repels bullets. It cost nearly $90, a huge sum in rural Burkina Faso.

“When you go to dangerous fights and you survive, and nothing happens, then you realize that (the jacket) works,” he said. “If we didn’t have these protections, we would lack the courage to go to some fights.”

Made from cotton by a local tailor who studied the Quran for more than a decade in Mecca, the jacket is soaked in water from leaves and has several Arabic phrases written on animal hide sewn into it. Some of the writings include the name of the jacket’s owner, while others say different things which Soumaila said he could not reveal lest the jacket lose its powers. Being photographed in the jacket can also rid it of its powers, he said.

Some religious leaders, though, worry the rituals provide a false sense of security for fighters, many of whom are ill-equipped and lack training.

“If you rely on the power of the shirt and then go and fight and (the powers are) fake, you can be killed. It’s as if you caused your own death,” said Ali Kamena, an imam in the capital.

He called the practice “satanic” because the Quran says anyone who needs protection should ask God. Anything else is idolatry, he said.

Kamena has provided blessings to members of Burkina Faso’s armed forces from the Quran before going to fight, including for his son, a soldier in the army. One of the verses he uses says: “With the grace of God, you may come back healthy and safe.”

But for some fighters, these beliefs transcend religion. The Dozos, ancient hunters who have been drawn into the fight, believe people can rely on powers from their ancestors. Spiritual protections can be granted so long as someone is a good person, believes in the process and undergoes an initiation.

Since the violence broke out, many Dozos have been working with the army to help protect their country, relying on traditions to keep them safe. But many Dozos fighting on the front lines say they feel ill-equipped and want the government to provide them with better arms in order to stave off the jihadis.

Soumaila, too, said that if body armor were provided for him to protect himself, he would use it.

At a March celebration of Dozo culture in the western city of Bobo-Dioulasso attended by the AP, new initiates about to receive spiritual protections together with seasoned Dozos fired guns, danced and paraded with a dead leopard draped around their bodies.

Firing his rifle in the air and giddily twirling it between his fingers, Idrissa Cisse said he wouldn’t be able to help the army fight extremists without the ancestral powers he says make him bulletproof.

“When we go into the bush, our ancestors give us their goodwill and we go to fight, to do what we have to do,” he said.

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Source: Burkina Faso fighters seek protection with spiritual rituals
Also, with pictures: Burkina Faso fighters seek protection with spiritual rituals

Burkina Faso fighters seek protection with spiritual rituals.
Source: Stars and Stripes.

Burkina Faso Fighters’ Faith In Tradition Amid Attacks

Published: April 29, 2021
By: Republic World, India – Written by Associated Press Television News 

Some fighters in Burkina Faso are putting their faith in traditional spiritual practices to protect them as attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State ravage the West African nation, killing thousands and displacing more than 1 million people.

Some fighters in Burkina Faso are putting their faith in traditional spiritual practices to protect them as attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State ravage the West African nation, killing thousands and displacing more than 1 million people.

Since the jihadist violence broke out, some Dozos – ancient hunters who have been drawn into the jihadist fight – have been working with the army to help protect their country, relying on traditions to keep them safe.

Their deeply rooted traditions holds that plants, animals and ritual objects mixed with verses from holy texts can provide protection before going to battle.

“Many Dozos are participating in the fight against the jihadists with the authorities, with the armed forces, we help them because we are true Burkinabè, true fighters,” said Idrissa Cisse, who attended a celebration of Dozo culture in the western city of Bobo-Dioulasso in March.

The ceremony brought new initiates about to receive spiritual protections together with seasoned Dozos who fire guns, dance and parade with a dead leopard draped around their bodies.

The support among the Dozos and their unity is what made Dramane Sanou decide to become part of the group.

“I want to join this group because of their honesty. You must be united as members of the same family, as brothers,” he said while waiting for the day of his initiation ceremony.

Philosophy professor and university researcher Jean-Baptiste Sanou said the rituals were linked to the “archaic” human need for protection when faced with violence.

Some people say the practice is rooted in animism, the belief that all things, from rocks and trees to animals and places, have a spirit.

Approximately 15% of Burkina Faso’s population identify as animists, according to a report from the International Crisis Group, which says the belief holds considerable weight in the majority Muslim country.

Some religious leaders, though, worry the rituals provide a false sense of security for fighters, many of whom are ill-equipped and lack training.

“They use this (magical protection) because they learned it from their parents. But we are Muslims and Islam forbids us to do that,” said Ali Kamena, an imam in the capital.

Fighters in Burkina Faso were reluctant to divulge too much about the process and types of plants used, saying those are kept secret even from family members.

But they explained that one way to become “bulletproof” involves mixing 13 plants, inserting the paste into food and eating it out of a hole in the ground.

The meal is prepared with water that was used to soak a metal arrow for 72 hours — the idea being that since the arrow is metal, a person will be protected from the heat of the bullet if shot.

Source: Burkina Faso Fighters’ Faith In Tradition Amid Attacks

Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) asks government to speed upon ‘albino’ cases, criticises cover-ups and the protection of high-placed politicians

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

Source: APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases

Cry from Zimbabwe: Let us stop child sacrifice

The following plea and and cry from Zimbabwe, following the ritual murder of Tapiwa Makore (7), and the two cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7), is long overdue but 100% warranted. Child sacrifice and more general human sacrifice is not a rare phenomenon in Zimbabwe, neither is it in a number of other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. The gruesome murders have recently led to a general campaign to stop child sacrifice, the 777 Campaign. It goes without saying that I join this initiative.

Warning: the following article contains graphic details of ritual killing of children (FVDK).

Let us stop child sacrifice

Published: April 27, 2021
By: Bulawayo 24, Heaven Munyuki   

The death of a child of any age is devastating. The pain and anguish can be compounded when the death comes at the hands of another human being. Parents and family members can face many complicated issues, even as they try to make sense of the incomprehensible – that someone knowingly, willingly or intentionally killed their child.

Children are gifts from God,  they are precious and bundles of joy. Birth of children represent generational continuity and procreation is devine as God commanded: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Mwanachipo Africa Trust is a local NGO that works with people who are infertile and childless. As people who are infertile and childless, we are pained most when these gifts we are failing to get are hurt or ill treated and when they are murdered, our hearts are pierced. We are hurt most because, some of us have undergone unimaginable ordeals and forked huge sums of money in trying to bear children whilst heartless people and cowards, who prey on vulnerable children, are busy chopping off their heads and mutilating their bodies. To us, killing of children for whatever reason is termination of generational continuity and destruction of families instead of growing and expanding them.

The recent surge in ritual killings and murder cases  of children in Zimbabwe is not only worrisome but also inhumane and horrifying.The gruesome murder of Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa who was buried without a head and the recent heinous killings of two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa  by uncles should not go unchallenged. These brutal killings have prompted Mwanachipo to initiate the Stop Child Sacrifice:The 777 Campaign.

The 777 Campaign is in honour of the 3 slain innocent children (Tapiwa, Delan and Mellisa) who were all murdered aged 7 and the suspected ritual killers being uncles. Tapiwa was fed with food and later drugged with Kachasu( traditional illicit beer) before being brutally killed in a mountain. His torso was found the following morning being dragged by dogs and his head is nowhere to be found up to this day. Mellisa and Delan’s remains were found stashed in a toilet pit.

These gruesome murders are targeted mainly at children for ritual purposes. Vulnerable, innocent children are mutilated and murdered by ruthless and criminal people who want to increase their wealth, health, power or reputation – by all means. Like Tapiwa, Delan and Mellisa, a lot of children have fallen victim to murderers and ritual killers. Due to their vulnerability, they are easily abducted on their way to or from school or when conducting their daily home activities such as fetching water and collecting firewood. Children are the main victims because they are considered pure or unblemished ,easy to lure and their blood sacrifice is considered more powerful than that of adults as children represent new life, prosperity and growth to the one procuring the sacrifice. They are sacrificed by witch doctors to appease ‘the gods’ and bring a myriad of solutions which include wealth, good health and political power  among others.Adults drawn to the practice are tricked into believing that the purity of child makes the ritual more powerful.
Hearts, ears, livers and genitals are considered as key ingredients of the rituals.These body parts are said to be removed when children are still alive and they die as a result of bleeding or are killed by the murderers to conceal evidence.

The repeated occurrences of these ritual killings is a blatant violation of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and Convention on
the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989. The CRC applies to
all children below the age of 18, and contains 54
articles covering almost all aspects of the life of a child.More so, this child sacrifice violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. According to this charter, an individual is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person.

Biblically, God sanctified life.This  means that human life is sacred ( made in the very image of the Creator himself according to Genesis 1:26-27), holy and precious. The sanctity of life is inherent as man cannot create life. Therefore, man has no authority to destroy life including the life of children. God chooses when life begins and ends and murder in all its forms is forbidden. It is the only way for humankind to exist.

Through the Stop Child Sacrifice: 777 Campaign , Mwanachipo Africa Trust is mobilising resources to be used to prevent  sacrifice of children.
 Our children are not safe until every child is safe.
Let us join hands to end child sacrifice. Everyone is duty bound to protect every child.Be part of the change which starts with all of us.Together we can make Zimbabwe a safer country for our children.

Pasi nekuchekeresa vana!
Stop child sacrifice!
Yekelani ukunikela ngabantwana libabulala!
#ChildrenAreNotSafeUntilEveryChildIsSafe

(Other organisations and individuals who wish to join us in this campaign can contact us on +263718745374 mwanachipoafricatrust@gmail.com)

Source: Let us stop child sacrifice


Zimbabwe – Editorial comment: combined effort needed to thwart ritual murders

A recent surge in ritual murders of children has shocked Zimbabwe. Within a short period, three children were murdered for ritualistic purposes: Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa and the two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa. I have extensively covered the murder of Tapiwa. The following days I will provide more details about the murder of Delan and Melissa.

The child sacrifices have led to many reactions. One of these comments follows here. It contains a plea for tougher measures for the culprits, even the capital punishment. There is much to say about (and against) the death penalty but let us know focus here on the editorial comments. 
To be cont’d.
(webmaster FVDK)

EDITORIAL COMMENT : Combined effort needed to thwart ritual murders

Published: April 27, 2021
By: The Herald, Zimbabwe

The murder of three children for what appears to be ritual purposes in just seven months is a worrying dark cloud over Zimbabwe and requires action at both community level and among a number of sections of society.

These are not the first such killings, perhaps just the best publicised for some time since the victims were all seven-years-old and the police moved swiftly and effectively to track down the suspects, with other family members among those arrested and remanded.

There is a superstitious belief among a minority that killing a child or another young person in a particular way, which can be equated to torture before the murder, and then processing certain body parts in a set-down manner will create, increase and maintain wealth.

This is nonsense, and with the competent homicide investigations now in progress it must be becoming obvious that initiating such a killing is totally unlikely to bring anything, but a very long jail sentence for the killers.

Although the death penalty is still on the books for aggravated murder by an adult man, and aggravating circumstances do not come more aggravating than pre-meditated murder of a child for financial gain, the fact remains that Zimbabwe does not implement death penalties any more, and instead life imprisonment is substituted.

There are already many positive developments that can help to end this practice of ritual killings. It is now clear that communities are willing to take action, rather than quiver in fear and keep quiet. 

People are not afraid to stand up and be counted and are willing to pass on whatever information they have to the police. 

In fact one of the major problems now in such investigations is that some are passing on confusing fifth-hand hearsay, which still needs to be properly investigated, rather than hard fact of what they saw. But homicide detectives are trained to separate the chaff from the hard fact, and better that too many try and help than too few.

A second problem is more serious, and has already been mentioned by legislators, including recently Senator Michael Nyambuwa who visited the Mutasa families. 

We need investigations to be pursued to bring the person who gave the ritual advice and who might well have promised to process any body parts.

Even if they did not initiate the killings, and accept some sort of lie when organs are presented, they are still involved in a murder and can be tried as an accomplice. 

N’angas still have a lot of respect and are feared by some, so it can be difficult to get a name, let alone evidence. 

Obviously the actual killers believe in the powers of the n’anga they are using; even in the days when the killers were hanged they refused to give the name and walked silently to the gallows.

Here communities need to encourage people to come forward. There will be a lot of vague and wrong information, but police can then run down the leads. The point is that a person ready to apply their traditional learning to criminal purposes cannot be totally unknown in an area.

The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association can also become more involved, first by teaching very clearly that such killings do not create wealth, only misery, and then encouraging people to come forward. 

In fact traditional healers in a particular area might well have a better idea of which one of their number has turned to the dark side than the average lay person, and should be encouraged to pass on this information.

Traditional leaders, who have already made their abhorrence of such crimes very clear, can also go further in prevention, as well as doing what they do now by calling on their communities to assist after a crime. 

The ideal is to have a murder trial with both the killers and the n’anga who offered advice all in the dock, with sufficiently good evidence that all can be convicted and then go to jail together. 

Detectives chosen for such investigations might need to be carefully selected; there is still a significant number of superstitious people, and even some Christian churches who worry about the creativity of evil, although this is a heretical belief in mainstream Christianity.

Such severely aggravating murders also stress the need for Zimbabwe to upgrade its sentencing laws for murder, now that we have effectively abandoned the death penalty as an active punishment. 

The reforms need to give judges setting sentences more discretion, and as we have argued before we need a system of parole.

In his latest clemency order, the President, with Cabinet consent and what must have been detailed advice, in effect set 15 years behind bars as the absolute minimum for a life sentence. This is not unreasonable and is the effective minimum period of incarceration in many jurisdictions for an “ordinary” murder.

However, countries that have formally abolished the death penalty and substituted life imprisonment usually allow the sentencing judge to make a recommendation over the minimum term in each case. 

In most cases this is whatever the standard is in that country before parole can be considered, frequently 15 years. 

But where there are aggravating circumstances the judge can set a longer minimum term before release can even be considered and, in exceptionally aggravating circumstances, can even call for a “whole life” sentence, or “life imprisonment without any possibility of parole”, as some American states word it. 

Because the killer is not executed this can always be adjusted later if perceptions change or new evidence emerges, but meanwhile the deterrent is in place.

A parole system also means that a released lifer is monitored for the rest of their lives, forbidden to do certain jobs, enter certain businesses and possess anything on a list of prohibited items, such as anything that could be used as a weapon.

And parents clearly need to be protective. This is always difficult, of deciding where do you draw the lines. But one general rule is safety in numbers and having older children helping to shepherd younger children.

We have all seen gaggles of schoolchildren who live near each other moving as a group and automatically having some older teenagers in that group.

Admittedly a lot of this breaks down, as in the latest two cases, when relatives are suspected to be involved, people who are normally trusted. 

But every bit helps and at least there are witnesses if a child is whisked away by an uncle or aunt. 

That is precisely how the police made their initial arrests in the latest two child killings, by following up reports from people who saw something that in retrospect needed to be told.

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT : Combined effort needed to thwart ritual murders

Buduburam, Ghana: Okada rider found dead with manhood, ears and eyes missing

Was the killing of an Okada rider a ritual murder in light of the missing body parts or was it an ‘ordinary murder’ by Buduburam criminals who by removing the body parts wanted creating a cover-up for their crime? A legitimate question, but the neighborhood has no doubts. It was a murder for ritual purposes.

The body was found at Blue Rose Estate, a suburb of Buduburam, in the Gomoa East District of Ghana’s Central Region.

The murder took place only a few days after the lifeless body of a man, estimated to be in his 50s, had been discovered – whereas his head cold not be found – and some weeks after the ritual murder of Ishmael Mensah Abdallah, a 10-year old boy, both in the Central Region. Apparently, so-called ‘money rituals’ are on the increase in Ghana. In this indeed a growing trend and, if yes, what is the explanation for this phenomenon based on superstition and greed?

We will closely watch future events in Ghana and come back to you when more facts emerge (webmaster FVDK).

Buduburam: Okada rider found dead with manhood, ears and eyes missing

Buduburam: Okada rider found dead with manhood, ears and eyes missing

Published: April 25, 2021
By: Pulse, Ghana – Emmanuel Ayamga

A commercial motorbike rider, locally known as Okada, has been found dead with some of his body parts missing.  The lifeless body of the unidentified man was found at Blue Rose Estate, a suburb of Buduburam in the Gomoa East District of the Central Region.

According to a report by Adomonline, the deceased, who is in his 20s, was found without his penis, ears and eyes.

Other parts were also missing from the body of the motorbike rider, in what is widely suspected to be a murder for ritual purposes.

Reports suggest the killers hired the rider but murdered him midway through the journey and also bolted with his motorbike.

The body of the deceased has since been deposited at the St Gregory Hospital mortuary, with the Police also commencing investigations. 

Meanwhile, the Chief of Buduburam, Nana Kojo Essel II, has bemoaned the high rate of crime in the community.

He appealed to the government to demolish the Buduburam “Gab”, which has become a hideout for criminals.

This comes just weeks after 10-year-old Ishmael Mensah Abdallah was gruesomely murdered at Kasoa in the Central region for money rituals.

Source: Buduburam: Okada rider found dead with manhood, ears and eyes missing

Related article (identical to the previous one):

Central Region: Okada Rider Murdered; Manhood, Ears and Eyes missing

Published: April 26, 2021
By: Africa At Random – Mustafa Sana

A commercial motorbike rider, locally known as Okada, has been found dead with some of his body parts missing. The lifeless body of the unidentified man was found at Blue Rose Estate, a suburb of Buduburam in the Gomoa East District of the Central Region.

According to a report by Adomonline, the deceased, who is in his 20s, was found without his penis, ears and eyes.

Other parts were also missing from the body of the Okada rider, in what is widely suspected to be a murder for ritual purposes.

Reports suggest the killers hired the rider but murdered him midway through the journey and also bolted with his motorbike.

The body of the deceased has since been deposited at the St Gregory Hospital mortuary, with the Police also commencing investigations.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Buduburam, Nana Kojo Essel II, has bemoaned the high rate of crime in the community.

He appealed to the government to demolish the Buduburam “Gab”, which has become a hideout for criminals.

This comes just weeks after 10-year-old Ishmael Mensah Abdallah was gruesomely murdered at Kasoa in the Central region for money rituals.

The heinous crime was committed by two teenagers, identified as Felix Nyarko and Nicholas Kiki, who have since been apprehended by the Police.

The suspects, aged 16 and 18, later confessed to taking their young neighbour’s life on the instruction of a spiritualist, whom they had discovered on television.

Source: Pulse news

Source: Central Region: Okada Rider Murdered; Manhood, Ears and Eyes missing

Blue Rose Estate is a suburb of Buduburam in the Gomoa East District, Central Region, Ghana