Published: May 3, 2019 By: Reuters – reporting by Frank Phiri; editing by Alison Williams
BLANTYRE (Reuters) – A man was sentenced to death in Malawi on Friday for killing an albino teenager in a case has become a campaign issue ahead of a national election this month, with the opposition accusing the government of inaction.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, fuelling ritual killings particularly targeting people with albinism because of the belief that their body parts can increase wealth.
In the first such punishment for the abduction and killing of people with albinism, Justice Mclean Kamwambe said he wanted to send a stern warning to would-be offenders.
“The death sentence is appropriate as it reflects a sense of justice in the circumstances,” he said at Malawi’s High Court.
The judge said the killings and abductions of albinos since 2014 had tainted the international image of Malawi, and had reduced the country to “a state of terror”.
The focus on albino murders has sparked finger-pointing amongst politicians ahead of the election on May, 21 with the main opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), accusing government of doing little to stop the killings.
The government, which formed a judicial inquiry into the killings and abductions, has denied this saying it cannot interfere in work of the police and courts.
The government has also offered cash rewards for information about the abductions and killings, which have reached at least 150 since 2014 according to the United Nations.
According to the court’s ruling, the convicted 28-year-old confessed to the murder and said he wanted to use the 19-year-old victims’ body parts to become rich on instructions from a witch-doctor in neighboring Mozambique.
The superstitions, stigmas and maiming and killing of people with albinism is visible across a number of southern and East African countries with cases reported in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa with a lucrative market for the trade in albino body parts, in the region and internationally.
People-smuggler to be quizzed over boy’s body in Thames Published: July 27, 2004 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
A child trafficker who may have helped smuggle the River Thames “torso boy” into Britain was jailed for four-and- a-half years yesterday.
Kingsley Ojo headed a “substantial” network thought to have brought hundreds of youngsters and adults into the country to work in the sex trade, as domestic slaves or for benefit fraud. Now police hope he can shed some light on the ritual murder of the five-year-old boy they named Adam.
Southwark Crown Court in London heard that Ojo was arrested last year during a co-ordinated series of raids in the capital. He claimed to be Mousa Kamara, 30, from Sierra Leone but was soon identified as a 35-year-old Nigerian, originally from Benin City, where Adam used to live.
The court heard that Ojo had come to Britain in 1997 posing as an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone.
When police searched his flat, they found a video mock-up of ritual killings, a shot of what appeared to be a decapitated head in a basin and a voodoo artefact in the form of a rat’s skull, pierced by a long metal spike and bound in black thread.
Ojo, of Devonshire Close, Stratford, east London, admitted four charges. Two involved dishonestly obtaining a British passport in July 1999, and using a forged driving licence with intent to deceive, while two related to assisting illegal entry into this country in November 2002 and February last year.
Judge Neil Stewart said the offences were so serious that prison was inevitable. He told Ojo: “I’m satisfied your continued presence would be to the detriment of this country and I make a recommendation that you be deported upon your release from prison.”
Detective Chief Inspector Will O’Reilly, the head of the investigation into the unidentified boy’s death, said later that Ojo had been detained because of his close association with a woman, Joyce Osagiede, who was arrested in Scotland. “We believe she is closely involved in the Adam case … we also believe he assisted with her entry into the country,” he said.
He went on: “I firmly believe he [Ojo] can assist us with our inquiries and we will be looking to speak to him as soon as possible.”
Osagiede, who has since been repatriated to Nigeria, also came from Benin City, and the pair lived together for a while at a London address.
The woman, who had Ojo’s address among her belongings, told immigration officers that she had fled her country due to being caught up in a ritual cult.
She claimed her husband, who was arrested in Dublin last year and later deported to Germany, had been involved in a group which carried out “demonic rituals”. He had, she said, played an active part in the deaths of 11 children, one of whom had been their eldest child.
In her flat, police found chicken feathers and a number of other items used in west African curses. They also found clothes believed to have come from the same shop in Germany as the orange shorts found on the headless, limbless body of the child which was found floating near Tower Bridge in central London almost three years ago.
Osagiede’s two daughters are still in foster care in Scotland.
Related article: Jail for torso case people smuggler Published: July 27, 2004 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
A man suspected of having smuggled into the UK an African boy whose torso was later found in the Thames was jailed for four years and six months for people trafficking yesterday.
Kingsley Ojo, 35, from Stratford, east London, admitted four charges: bringing two men, whom he provided with false papers, into Britain in November 2002 and February 2003, and using a forged driving licence and passport.
Ojo headed a “substantial” network that is thought to have smuggled in hundreds of children and adults to work as prostitutes or domestic slaves.
Scotland Yard detectives do not think he killed the boy, named Adam by police, whose headless and limbless torso was recovered from the Thames in September 2001. But they believe he could hold the key to the horrific ritual murder.
Officers were initially baffled by the gruesome find. But painstaking forensic analysis of the boy’s bones established his diet, which narrowed down his place of origin to the region around Benin city in Nigeria.
Ojo, who was arrested with 20 others in a series of immigration-linked raids across London last July, is also from Benin city. He had falsely claimed to be Mousa Kamara, 30, from Sierra Leone.
Detective Chief Inspector Will O’Reilly, who heads the investigation, said Ojo was not thought to have murdered Adam, but police wanted to interview him again about his links with a woman arrested in Scotland.
Children’s clothes found in her Glasgow flat came from the same German shop as the orange shorts on Adam’s torso. She also comes from Benin city, and she and Ojo lived at the same address in London for a time.
“We believe she is closely involved in the Adam case,” Mr O’Reilly said. “Her main associate in this country was Ojo. We also believe he assisted her entry into the country. I firmly believe he can assist us with our inquiries and we will be looking to speak to him as soon as possible.”
The woman has since been “repatriated” to Nigeria and Mr O’Reilly said he could not comment further on her as a file had been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.
When officers searched Ojo’s flat in London, they found a video of mock-up ritual killings and a rat’s skull, thought to be a voodoo talisman.
Southwark crown court heard that Ojo came to the UK in 1997, posing as an asylum seeker, and was granted leave to remain, but forbidden to travel abroad. But when he discovered his girlfriend, Barbara Bourne, had lost a newborn son a few years previously, he used the dead boy’s birth certificate to obtain a driving licence and passport.
He then brought in illegal immigrants on cheap flights from Naples. Police think those smuggled in may have paid up to 20,000 each for a new life in Britain.
Judge Neil Stewart said he was satisfied that Ojo had an organizational role and had profited from the enterprise, and recommended that he be sent back to Nigeria when he had served his sentence.
Five witchcraft inquiries Published: June 17, 2005 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
Police and social services in London are investigating five new suspected cases of child abuse involving witchcraft.
Britain’s leading expert on witchcraft, Dr Richard Hoskins, is working with social services on allegations about fundamentalist churches in Haringey and Hackney.
They involve two boys aged 11 and 14 and three girls aged 10, 12 and 13. They were all allegedly abused after being accused by their family of being “witches”.
A Metropolitan Police report, leaked yesterday, unmasked a “trade” in young African boys brought to London to be murdered as human sacrifices.
An inquiry in which members of the African community in Newham and Hackney were questioned found a number of sects that believe in powerful spells requiring the ritual killing of male children.
It also identified cases of children abused and killed after family members accused them of being possessed by “evil spirits”.
Dr Hoskins, a chief adviser to the Met, said almost all the cases he is investigating have similar features. The children have been accused of being “possessed” and allegedly abused and tortured.
Social services took them into their care after parents called for the children to be exorcised in fundamentalist churches.
Dr Hoskins said: “We are dealing with real cases here. I have got seven cases on my books of children nationwide who have been abused in the name of witchcraft. When you actually talk to them, these are hard and fast facts. But the issue as a whole has to be dealt with very sensitively.”
Dr Hoskins worked with police on the inquiry into “Adam“, the torso found in the Thames, which he is convinced was a ritual sacrifice.
In the Adam case, detectives also spoke to Tussan le Mante, a voodoo priest or hougan, who carries out rituals in his west London flat.
Le Mante was able to tell them accounts of child abuse of which he was aware through his connection with voodoo.
Police also found children are being sold to traffickers on the streets of African cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, for under ?10 then smuggled into the UK.
They arrive in London with false documents and accompanied by adults who believe they will bolster their asylum claims.
Dr Hoskins said: “We know this through work we have been doing on the Adam inquiry. It’s the same in Kinshasa. These children are ripe for people to abuse. They are easy prey.”
The 10-month study was commissioned by the Met following the death of Victoria Climbié who was starved and beaten to death after relatives said she was possessed.
Its aim was to create an “open dialogue” with the African and Asian community in Newham and Hackney. In discussions with African community leaders, officers were told of examples of children being murdered because their parents or carers believed them to be evil.
Earlier this month, Sita Kisanga, 35, was convicted at the Old Bailey of torturing an eight-year-old girl from Angola whom she accused of being a witch. Kisanga was a member of the Combat Spirituel church in Dalston.
Many such churches, supported mainly by people from West Africa, sanction aggressive forms of exorcism.
The caretaker of the building used by the church said its leader was “an extraordinary man”.
“The pastor would come down after preaching with froth coming out of his mouth,” he said.
“The congregation made massive noise and generally caused so much disturbance that the neighbours here kicked up a fuss and got the council to evict them.”
There are believed to be 300 similar churches in the UK, mostly in London. Last month, Scotland Yard revealed it had traced only two of 300 black boys reported missing from London schools in a three-month period. The true figure for missing children is feared to be several thousand a year.