The business, science behind ritual killings

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

The suspected ritual killer, Tawana Ngwenya (right) and his disillusioned father, Buzwani Ngwenya (left).

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.

Source: Murder economy: The business, science behind ritual killings

The Limpopo River Basin (Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe). Source map: The Economist

South Africa: more on murdered Giyani girl found in dam

More details emerge with respect to the lifeless body of Tiyiselani Rikhotso, found at the Klein Letaba dam near Giyani, Limpopo, South Africa. The region is known for its ritual murders, as reported multiple times on this site. The local population calls the ritualistic murders muti (muthi) murders (webmaster FVDK).  

Murdered Giyani girl (11) found in dam had missing body parts, family say

Tiyiselani Rikhotso when she was younger. The 11-year-old was killed and her body found in a dam near Giyani.

Published: March 20, 2020
By: Sowetan Live – Peter Ramothwala  

The family of an 11-year-old girl whose dismembered body was found in a dam suspects she was murdered for ritual purposes.

Tiyiselani Rikhotso from Ndengeza village, about 40km west of Giyani in Limpopo, was reported missing on Sunday and her body was found on Tuesday in the Klein Letaba Dam.

Her discovery was preceded by a protest by the community, who went on a rampage, blockading roads.

Tiyiselani’s grandmother Christina Rikhotso, 59, said she suspected Tiyiselani was hacked with a panga as she had several open and deep wounds on her body.

“I saw those wounds on her body and they were very scary. Her right leg was chopped and still missing as we speak.

“I think she was killed elsewhere and thrown into the dam.

“If her murder is not for muthi, what will one do with a child’s leg?”

Rikhotso said Tiyiselani was found in the dam after some children tipped off community members that they saw her in the company of an unknown man.

“On our way to the dam, we found her doek and we became convinced she was thrown in there,” she said.

The grandmother said she was in church when Tiyiselani went missing on Sunday.

“I left her with her other siblings at home in the morning. Later in the day, I received a call that Tiyiselani was missing. I quickly called a few neighbours and we combed the local bushes and could not find her.

“In the afternoon, I went to the police to report a missing person. I even told them that we suspect her body was in the dam and they told me they would wait for a search and rescue team and sniffer dogs.”

Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said a manhunt for the killer(s) had been launched.

“The discovery was made by community members who then called the police.

“On arrival at the scene, the police retrieved the body and discovered that some of her body parts were missing,” Mojapelo said.

Mojapelo said the motive for the murder was unknown at this stage but said that murder for body parts could not be ruled out.

Tiyiselani’s father Thulani Rikhotso said he was shocked and in disbelief about his daughter’s murder.

“I arrived on Wednesday from Gauteng to see for myself. My brother, I’m heartbroken. I want police to find her killers soon,” he said.

MEC for social development Nkakareng Rakgoale has also reacted with shock to the incident.

“Incidents such as this one are again putting in the spotlight the general safety of our children in communities.

“I cannot begin to imagine how a person can decide to take away an innocent soul just like that.

“We are once again appealing to parents and communities to always keep a close eye on children who are in their vicinity,” Rakgoale said.

Source: Murdered Giyani girl (11) found in dam had missing body parts, family say

Related article:

Missing Giyani girl’s body found dismembered in Limpopo dam

Published: March 20, 2020
By: News 24 (South Africa) – Canny Maphanga

Tiyiselani Nokuthula Rikhotso. (Supplied, SAPS)
Tiyiselani Nokuthula Rikhotso. (Supplied, SAPS)

The body of Tiyiselani Nokuthula Rikhotso, a 11-year-old missing Giyani girl, was found dismembered and dumped in the local Klein Letaba Dam on Tuesday.

Rikhotso was reported missing on Monday.

“The discovery was made by community members, who called the police. On arrival at the scene, the police retrieved the body and discovered that some of her body parts were missing,” said Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo in a statement on Tuesday.

The provincial commissioner of Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, strongly condemned the brutal killing of an innocent child and instructed the police to hunt down the killers.

The police have subsequently launched a manhunt.

Authorities are calling on anyone with information to come forward.

Source: Missing Giyani girl’s body found dismembered in Limpopo dam

The Limpopo River Basin 

South Africa: missing Giyani girl found dismembered and thrown in Klein Letaba dam

The fear is warranted, but we have to be careful and we should not rush to conclusions without firm evidence or an official announcement. However, the immediate reaction of a ritualistic act is telling and significant (webmaster FVDK).

Missing Giyani girl found dismembered and thrown in Klein Letaba dam

An 11-year-old child, reported missing on Monday, was found dismembered on Tuesday. Her body was thrown into the Klein Letaba dam.  
Image: 123RF/Paul Fleet

Published: March 18, 2020
By: TimesLive – South Africa

An 11-year-old girl, who was reported missing in Dengeza, outside Giyani, on Monday, was found murdered and dismembered on Tuesday, said Limpopo police.

Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said the child was found dumped at the Klein Letaba dam.

“The discovery was made by community members, who called the police. The police retrieved the body and discovered that some of her body parts were missing,” said Mojapelo.

“The motive for this murder is unknown, but ritual murder cannot be ruled out,” he added.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba condemned the brutal killing of the child and called on police to hunt down her killers.

Source: Missing Giyani girl found dismembered and thrown in Klein Letaba dam

Related article: 

‘Ritual murder cannot be ruled out’ after body of missing girl (11) found in Limpopo dam

Her dismembered body was found in the local Klein Letaba Dam

Published: March 18, 2020
By: Review (online) – South Africa

Tiyiselani Nokuthula Rikhotso was reported missing on Monday, 16 March. Photo: SAPS

LIMPOPO – The body of 11-year-old Tiyiselani Nokuthula Rikhotso, who was reported missing on Monday, 16 March has been found. Rikhotso, from Dengeza (A) outside Giyani, was last seen when she left home on Sunday, 15 March.

The police commenced with a search operation after Rikhotso was reported missing, but without success. Her dismembered body was found in the local Klein Letaba Dam on Tuesday, 17 March and the police in Giyani have launched a manhunt for the killer (s) as a result.

Klein Letaba Dam. Photo: SAPS Limpopo

Residents from the local community made the discovery and called the police who retrieved the body from the dam and found some of her body parts were missing. According to Police Spokesperson, Brig Motlafela Mojapelo, the motive for the killing is unknown but ritual murder cannot be ruled out.

The brutal killing of Rikhotso has been strongly condemned by the Provincial Police Commissioner, Lt Gen Nneke Ledwaba who also instructed the police to hunt down the people responsible for her death.

The police appeal to anyone with information that can lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) to contact Col Chris Mabasa at 082 469 0739, their nearest police station or the Crime Stop number at  086 001 0111

Source: ‘Ritual murder cannot be ruled out’ after body of missing girl (11) found in Limpopo dam

The Limpopo River Basin – South Africa