Malawi: killed for their bones – on the trail of the trade in human body parts

There is hardly any doubt that in Malawi the position of people with albinism is the most fragile and dangerous as compared to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have repeatedly mentioned this here, see e.g. my posting earlier this year, on January 22.

In 2017, ALJAZEERA reported that In Malawi, more than 115 people had been attacked in the past two years and that at least 20 of them did not survive the attack. Below follows an extensive report of ALJAZEERA on the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators (as far as known).

ALJAZEERA is to be commended for raising awareness on the human rights violations people with albinism experience and the efforts being made to protect them.

ALJAZEERA is to be commended for this excellent work of investigative journalism and the attention thus paid to this curse. People with albinism face discrimination in at least 23 African countries. For many, this discrimination amounts to insecurity, violence & murder.

Also in the current year, ALJAZEERA paid attention to the plight of people with albinism, on June 13, International Albinism Awareness Day, with a series of tweets. Click here to access the tweets.

Warning: some readers may find the following stories disturbing (webmaster FVDK).

Published: June 13, 2022
By: ALJAZEERA

Killed for their bones – On the trail of the trade in human body parts

In Malawi, people with albinism are being killed and their bodies harvested; children and adults hacked to death with machetes and kitchen knives. More than 115 people have been attacked in the past two years, at least 20, fatally. Those who have survived have been left with deep physical and psychological scars, and remain fearful that those who hunt them will return.

But why is this happening? Ask and most people will talk about an elusive market for these body parts, people who are prepared to pay large sums of money for them and witch doctors who use them in potions to cure everything from disease to bad luck. But few seem to know where this trade actually takes place or to be able to point to an instance of money changing hands.

So, does this market of human body parts really exist, or is it a myth that is driving murder? We went in search of the market and found a toxic mix of witchcraft, poverty and desperation.

Here are the stories of the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators.

The condition that makes me black without black, white but not white. That is how it was, and I will tell you all about it. – Petina Gappah, The Book of Memory

1 – The Victims

David’s story

Village of Nambilikira, Dedza district, eastern Malawi

It was a Sunday in April 2016. A warm, dry day. Seventeen-year-old David Fletcher was being moody and withdrawn. He wanted to watch a football match at the local school instead of helping his family gather maize in the fields. His parents eventually relented and let him go.

When he didn’t return later that day, they searched the village, but couldn’t find David.

The next day, they walked to the nearest police station to report him missing. Then they waited.

A week later, the local police chief came to their home to deliver the news: David’s dismembered body had been found, 80km away, in neighbouring Mozambique. It was badly decomposed, he told them. It couldn’t be brought to the village for burial, but he could bring the arms and legs, if they wished. And if the family could afford the journey, they could visit it where it was found.

“He was dead. What benefit was there to see his dead body?” Fletcher Machinjiri, David’s 65-year-old father, asks, dismissively. “It was too expensive for us.”

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Fletcher is sitting outside his house. His 53-year-old wife, Namvaleni Lokechi, sits beside him. Her face is expressionless. Their 32-year-old daughter Mudelanji and 21-year-old son Manchinjiri sit on the hard earth a few metres away. They listen as though it is the first time they have heard the story.

“He was killed like a goat at a market,” Lokechi says, staring into the distance. “His arms and legs had been chopped off. They broke off some of his bones. His skin was hanging. And they buried him in a shallow grave.”

He was killed like a goat at a market. His arms and legs had been chopped off.– Namvaleni Lokechi, the mother of David Fletcher, a murdered 17-year-old

She makes chopping motions with her hands as she speaks.

“We cry every day,” Fletcher says. “To us, he was a ray of hope. We believed in his future. We thought he would lift our hand because he was good at school.” 

“We still battle to eat without him.”

‘A war against people with albinism’

Born in 1999, David was the fourth of five siblings – and the only one to have been born with albinism.

“I wasn’t surprised when he was born,” David’s mother says softly. “I was more than happy with his complexion.”

Her tiny frame stiffens when she talks about her son.

She had an aunt in Blantyre with the same congenital disorder that results in a partial absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, she explains. 

“I’ve always felt that this group of people were lucky in life,” she says slowly.

David was a star pupil at the local school in the neighbouring village of Kachule.

His teacher, Clement Gweza, recalls feeling mildly concerned when he didn’t turn up for school that Monday. 

“I thought maybe there were no groceries at home, or maybe he was unwell,” Clement says, sitting inside his empty classroom. “But the second day [he didn’t turn up] … then I got worried.”

When he learned what had happened to David, he says, he was shocked. “It meant I was next,” he says, placing his hands on his chest. 

For Clement also has albinism.

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So, too, does 14-year-old Latida Macho, another pupil at the school. She is one of five siblings with the condition. After David’s murder, her family refused to send her to school for three weeks.

“If this is war against people with albinism, then it means I’m second in line,” Clement reflects.

He says he knew that people with albinism were being murdered, but “for it to happen in the district, but also in my class, it was unreal”.

Within days, two men were arrested for the murder.

Both Malawians, they were tried in a district court in May 2016 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit a crime and abduction. 

David’s family say they heard about the arrests and subsequent trial only from the media. And that they are bitterly disappointed with the outcome.

“The accused persons should be killed as well,” Fletcher says, pointing to the floor. “The child was brutally killed, hence they must equally be killed brutally.”

Alfred’s story

Village of Nasi, district of Phalombe, eastern Malawi

Seventeen-year-old Alfred Chigalu lives with his aunt in a mud home surrounded by dead sunflowers. 

Their courtyard of red earth is home to five goats and a dozen raucous chickens.

The nearest neighbour is a five-minute walk away, along a path cut through overgrown grass. It takes 20 minutes – across dried up tobacco fields – to reach the main road. Drought has hit this region hard, and while tall mango trees provide shade for the farmers, they bear no fruit.

The climate here is harsh. Crops are often destroyed by drought or violent hailstorms. Like others in the village, Alfred and his aunt, Lydia Petulo, are surviving on pieces of dried maize from last year’s harvest. The goats in the yard are not their own. Lydia looks after them for a local merchant, and receives one at the end of each year in return.

In December 2015, four men broke down the door of Alfred’s bedroom while he was sleeping. They slashed at him with machetes, hitting the back of his head, his shoulders and his back. They tried to drag him out of the house. When his aunt found him in a pool of his own blood, his attackers ran away.

Alfred survived but was left badly scarred.

Now, the slightest sound wakes him, and when he walks to the village he must be accompanied.

“Before the attack I used to depend on him; I could send him to the market, he could go to the farm and do the farming,” Lydia says, biting her lips as she completes her sentences.

“But I cannot do the same these days.”

“I fear for his life. The responsibility has shifted to me.”

But this isn’t the first time she has been afraid for her nephew. She took him out of school six years ago, when the taunting began, she explains. 

Lydia slouches as she narrates their story. Her tired eyes wander. But they brighten when she talks about Alfred. She adopted him after his mother – her sister – died.

Alfred had a sibling who also had albinism, but that child died, she recalls. She doesn’t remember the dates or the details – of his sibling’s or his parents’ deaths – other than that both of Alfred’s parents died around the time he took his first steps.

‘I am lonely’

Alfred is sitting outside on the floor, his back against the house, wearing oversized jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. They are the only clothes he owns. He was wearing his other outfit when he was attacked. There was so much blood that it had to be burned.

On his head is a large cowboy hat. 

He is tall with broad shoulders that droop when he walks. For the first few hours that we are there, he doesn’t talk.

But when we put the camera away and move out of sight of the curious neighbours who have gathered to watch, he begins to speak.

His parched lips barely move.

“I wake up at 6 in the morning, every day. I sweep the yard, but I feel pain in my arms,” he says slowly.

He removes his shirt to reveal long, deep scars on his chest and back.

“The way they cut me, they cut my veins. I can barely hold a hoe,” he explains.

I want to finish school, to become a teacher, and move out of here. I would love if someone could take me away from this village. I have to get out of this place.– Seventeen-year-old Alfred Chigalu, who was attacked in November 2015

When she found him on the floor, Lydia began to scream and cry.

“The neighbours came, but it was too late, the attackers had left,” she says. “I really felt sorry for him when I looked at him and I knew he was lucky to have survived. He would have been killed if he hadn’t screamed for me.”

She says she knows why he was attacked.

“Before the attack, some people used to mock him if he went outside the house. They [would say] he is worth millions of kwacha [thousands of dollars], so that gave us an indication that his life could be in danger,” Lydia explains.

The physical wounds have mostly healed, but life is not the same for Alfred. He misses “chatting”, he says, shyly, before adding: “Most of all I miss my friends. I am lonely.”

His aunt says he “lacks peace”.

In April 2016, Ikponwosa Ero, the UN’s independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, visited Alfred and his aunt. She told Al Jazeera that Alfred seemed to have suffered “memory loss” after the attack. But when we visit him two months later, he rolls off the names of towns in Malawi, capital cities of African countries and national political leaders. He seems to be recovering.

Fiddling with a piece of dry hay, he tells us: “I want to finish school, to become a teacher, and move out of here. I would love if someone could take me away from this village. I have to get out of this place.”

Hari’s story

Village of Mpakati, Machinga district, southern Malawi

Edna Cedric remembers that night in February 2016.

Her husband, Marizane Kapiri, had gone fishing. Her identical nine-year-old twins, Hari and Harrison, were sleeping beside her.

She heard a knock at the door. When she answered it, a machete-wielding man barged inside, slashing at her.

He pulled Hari from the bed and dragged him to the door. Edna tried to hold on to him while also gripping Harrison with her other hand. 

Then the intruder struck her face with the machete and she fell to the floor. And, just like that, her son was gone.

The police brought the head wrapped in a cloth and in a sack. His mother identified it.– Marizane Kapiri, Hari’s stepfather 

“I couldn’t hold on to him any longer,” she says, quietly. “I ran out screaming.”

“Four days later, the police found his head in Mozambique.”

“The place was very lonely. This is why we moved here,” her husband says.

The fisherman is not the father of Edna’s children. He says he spent the best part of the five days after Hari was abducted explaining to the police why he wasn’t at home when the attack took place. They suspected that he was involved and it wasn’t until the village chief explained to them that he spent much of his time at the lake, catching fish to feed the family, that the police let him go.

“After the police discovered the head, they sent a message to us that we should be ready to see it,” Marizane explains. “They brought the head wrapped in a cloth and in a sack. His mother identified it.” 

According to Amnesty International, two men were arrested in connection with Hari’s murder. One was said to be an uncle, and the other a stranger who had an existing conviction for possessing the bones of a person with albinism. For that crime, he had been fined $30.

The family, though, say they have no idea who was responsible for the attack and what has become of those who were arrested.

The twin brother

Harrison is wearing pyjamas and a cowboy hat. He sits between his parents as they take turns to talk. He fiddles with the cords of his hat, licks his cracked lips and scratches at the dry skin on his arms. He only returned to school in September 2016, eight months after his brother was taken.

Their mudbrick home is in a remote rural area, far from the main road between Blantyre and Mangochi. Houses here sit in small plots on expansive fields. It is a few minutes’ walk to the nearest neighbours through fields of browning plants that haven’t been harvested in a year. Here, police officers are few and far between.

But this is not where Hari was taken from. That home was even more isolated, Marizane explains.

“We demolished the house … and moved here so we are closer to other people,” he says.

But the move hasn’t changed much for the remaining brother, Harrison. 

“He wakes up in the middle of night, screaming, because he can’t find his brother. We just tell him he will come back one day,” Marizane explains. 

He wakes up in the middle of night, screaming, because he can’t find his brother.– Marizane Kapiri, whose stepson, Hari, was murdered

Edna says that she can’t get over the pain she felt when she saw Hari’s head.

“I immediately thought about his brother, Harrison, and I knew his life would never be the same,” she says, looking at her surviving son.

2 – A History of Violence

Borrowed from the word “albus”, meaning white in Latin, albinism is a congenital disorder where the body is unable to create enough melanin to darken the skin, hair and eyes.

The non-contagious condition affects about one in 20,000 people worldwide. But it is more common in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in 5,000 have albinism. Most cases are in Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

In Malawi, a country of 16.5 million people, there are said to be 7,000 to 10,000 people with albinism.

Why it affects this part of the world so disproportionately is unclear.

And it is not just a matter of colour: lack of melanin often results in poor vision and sensitivity to light. In fact, many people with albinism are legally blind.

Because their skin is particularly vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, they can also be predisposed to skin cancer and lesions.

According to a 2014 study, people with albinism in Africa are 1,000 times more likely to get skin cancer than others.

But their plight is not solely medical.

The story of discrimination against people with albinism is an old but not necessarily well-documented one. It is driven by myths and superstition.

According to Amnesty International, those with albinism face discrimination in 23 countries in Africa.

For many, this discrimination amounts to violence – murder, infanticide and live burials.

The past decade has seen an increase in the number of documented killings and maimings of people with the condition, driven in part by a belief that their organs, bones and body parts can be sold on the black market.

And that belief is fed by the myth that their bones are made of gold dust and the suggestion that they are a necessary component of magic potions.

But while there are reports of bones reaching up to $75,000 on the black market, there have been no documented cases of money changing hands. So the question of whether an organised trade in the body parts of people with albinism exists has yet to be definitively answered.

The UN’s Ikponwosa Ero says they have been unable to confirm the existence of a market.

“There is allegedly a lot of money in this business. And I say allegedly because people keep on repeating the idea that there is a lot of money in this, and it would seem that the media is part of the reason some people have gotten involved,” she says. “But then some countries have witnessed a reduction in the number of attacks, maybe because people are realising there is no value [in the bones and body parts].”

The majority of the documented attacks have taken place in the Great Lakes region, particularly Tanzania and Burundi. According to media reports, Tanzania has seen some 180 attacks, including 76 murders, since 2000. Thirty-five of those murders took place in 2015.

Within eight months of her appointment as the UN’s independent expert on albinism in June 2015, Ikponwosa, who herself has albinism, documented 40 attacks in eight countries. 

Although there has long been discrimination, she points to a more recent phenomenon: “Hacking people [with albinism] alive.”

‘Millions, millions’

Zomba, southern Malawi

Emily Chiumia works at a government department in Zomba, southern Malawi. But she moonlights as an activist for people with albinism.

She’s happy to talk, even if the topic is the names they call her.

“You walk on the street, and they call you ‘millions, millions’,” she laughs, “as if we are gold.”

Emily is the former vice-president of the Association for Persons with Albinism (APAM). Since the attacks began, Emily and the association have been documenting the offences committed against people like her.

Most of them, she says, are carried out by relatives, neighbours or people the victims considered to be friends.

“Before, it was a case of people saying ‘if you sleep with a person with albinism, your skin will turn white’,” she says. “But now, it’s different. I cannot enjoy my life as I used to … I can’t walk in the evenings, can’t sleep, even at home, I fear who might come.” Her laugh has disappeared now.

You walk on the street, and they call you ‘millions, millions’, as if we are gold.– Emily Chiumia, former vice-president of the Association for Persons with Albinism

Radio DJ Ian Sambota describes how in 2012 he was befriended by an “older, educated” woman who first offered him K100,000 ($138) and then K500,000 ($700) to sleep with her. “She was HIV positive and she thought if she slept with a person with albinism, it would be solved,” he says.

Ian refused, but admits that the offer was tempting because he needed the money to pay for medical care for his mother.

Steven Burgess is in his 40s and says he has been called a “white animal” since he was a child. But this is “a time of crisis”, he explains, referring to the increase in attacks.

Bazirio Kaudzu, 46, says he feels so threatened that he only travels to the clinic in the capital Lilongwe – to collect the zinc oxide ointment needed to treat the lesions and blisters on his skin – if his nephew accompanies him. It’s an expensive journey for the tomato farmer, so each month he must take out a loan to cover the cost of the taxi ride for two.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Patricia Maguwa, 37, remembers a time when her husband, gospel singer Geoffrey Zigoma, was considered one of the golden voices of Malawian music. Before he died of cancer in 2013, he always tried to offer a counter-narrative to the misperceptions about people with albinism, she says.

“He was called names like ‘yellow man’, but he never felt insecure about his life,” she says from her modest home 7km outside Lilongwe. “[But] the situation is different now.”

A shifting trade

Malawi’s government recognises that there is a problem.

Neverson Chisiza, a senior state advocate at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, says there have been at least 85 documented cases, including murder, assault, attempted abductions, trafficking, maiming, and grave robberies since 2014. At least 20 of those cases have been murder.

In May 2016, Ikponwosa Ero said that if serious action wasn’t taken to stop the attacks, people with albinism could become extinct in Malawi.

Malawi’s government says a crackdown in neighbouring Tanzania has shifted the “trade” in body parts to their country.

Senior Chief Kawinga, a traditional authority from Malawi’s Machinga district, where most of the attacks have taken place, told us during a visit to his office that he’d heard the market for body parts was in neighbouring Mozambique. Each country in the region tends to posit their neighbour as the source of the problem.

Though many people tend to use the term “albino”, there have been significant attempts to change the terminology to “person with albinism”. Ikponwosa Ero says this is preferred as it puts the person before the condition, while Canadian charity Under the Same Sun points to the fact that albino has historically been used in a derogatory manner.

In June 2016, 150 government officials, academics and activists from 26 countries met in Dar es Salaam for the first forum on albinism in Africa. It aimed to create an action plan to end the attacks, and concluded that governments must dedicate a budget and a multisectoral task force to doing so. It recommended a range of measures and best practices. “Now that we have a catalogue of effective specific measures that are not very expensive to execute, governments should no longer act ignorant of what to do on the issue … It is time to act,” said Ikponwosa Ero.

3 – The Perpetrators

Zomba, southern Malawi

The red brick walls glisten in the midday sun.

Zomba Maximum Prison stands like a citadel in the former capital. It might resemble a factory were it not for its watch towers and the metal fence that encircles it. Flanked by mango trees and shrubs, a dirt track leads to the main entrance.

Inside, some 2,365 prisoners are either awaiting trial or serving time for some of the most serious of crimes: murder, abduction, trafficking, and armed robbery.

The prison’s director, Major Manwell, greets us at the front door – an almost three-metre tall gateway made of green steel. He is wearing a khaki safari suit and leather sandals.

“How can I help you?” he asks with a knowing smile.

Manwell hands us over to two prison guards who lead us into an open corridor between the front desk and the staff kitchen. A makeshift clothes line hangs nearby. We sit on a bench, shaded by the prison’s towering walls.

Over the next three hours, we will meet eight prisoners who are either awaiting trial or have been convicted of playing some part in an attack on somebody with albinism.

One at a time, they sit opposite us on another wooden bench, a translator beside them.

A guard sits at a distance – far enough that his presence doesn’t feel intrusive, but close enough to eavesdrop. His body language tells us when he finds an inmate’s story of interest. When he doesn’t, he slumps back into his leather chair.

Just two of the inmates acknowledge that their case is related to someone with albinism. Most insist that they were framed or have been wrongly accused. Only one admits to having committed a crime.

“They are not able to come to terms with their crimes,” says the guard, removing his cap so that he can scratch his head. “They are in denial.”

The tomb raider

Stenala Shaibu Lizahapa is wearing a clean white shirt and tattered jeans. He takes his seat slowly and crosses his legs. A thin row of rosary beads pass through his fingers. Stenala is not in a hurry. Unlike the others, he doesn’t fidget. He simply sits and waits.

He is in his mid-30s and has been convicted of trespassing on a gravesite to remove three bones from the body of a deceased man named Awali Mandevu.

Along with five others, he was caught trying to sell the bones to an undercover police officer in April 2015.

All six were charged with criminal trespassing, removal of human tissue and selling human bones.

Three of them, including Stenala, pleaded guilty. Two others denied the charges and were acquitted, while the case against the sixth was dropped.

Stenala was sentenced to six years in prison.

He says he has made peace with his crime.

“What I did was wrong, but I felt desperate,” he says softly, only briefly making eye contact. “I feel ashamed.”

If there is a market [for bones], I don’t know… I would have believed it if I saw it. – Stenala Shaibu Lizahapa, sentenced to six years in prison for selling human bones

As a fisherman, he says he was earning K500 (70 cents) a day. So when friends asked if he’d help them deliver a set of bones to a client – promising it would make him “rich enough to drive” – he says he was tempted.

“With my income, I can’t afford a motorcycle, but a car – that was a dream … The devil took over me,” he says.

In early April 2015, Stenala travelled with friends from Machinga to his home district of Jali, where he went to Chinangwa, a village neighbouring his own, in search of a grave he’d been told housed the corpse of a person with albinism.

“Who doesn’t want more money?” he asks rhetorically. “I knew it was wrong, but I did it for my family.”

“If there is a market [for bones], I don’t know,” he says. “I would have believed it if I saw it.”

The victim’s family

Chinangwa village, Zomba district, southern Malawi

In the village of Chinangwa, Emily Emisi is sitting on a straw mat outside her mud brick and thatch-roofed home.

She offers us a mat on which to sit – between a couple of brown puppies and some corn drying in the winter sun.

“Why didn’t you call before you came?” the 36-year-old asks with a smile. “I would have cooked.”

Her generosity betrays her means. Her open yard – like the barren plateau that surrounds it – is hard brown earth. A few mango and small kachere trees surround the settlement.

Three children sit on the floor. For a while, they watch curiously. But when the novelty of strangers wears off, they return to kicking a punctured miniature football.

“It was my grandfather’s grave that Stenala dug up,” Emily says. “It was terrible. He was buried a long time [ago], in the 1990s. And this felt like a second funeral for him.”

Emily says it didn’t come as a surprise to many of the villagers when they learned that Stenala was responsible.

“He was known to steal goats,” she says.

Stenala had got into an argument with his brother weeks before when he’d tried to persuade him to help find the bones, Emily explains. His brother had refused and the argument had turned into a fight. The whole village heard about it, she says.

“Then, he tried to romance an albino girl, but the girl refused and told villagers that she was being pursued by him.”

She is “happy he has been put away”, she says, because he would “terrorise the village”.

Someone close to Stenala must have betrayed him, Emily speculates, because nobody knew that the village graveyard had been tampered with.

But, while she has no doubt that Stenala had been searching for the bones of somebody with albinism, Emily says he dug up the wrong grave.

“My grandfather, Awali Madenvu, was not an albino. But his grave was close to an albino and so they got the wrong bones.”

That wouldn’t have made any difference anyway – the penalty in Malawi is the same.

Because his was not a case of murder or attempted murder, Stenala wasn’t eligible for legal aid and so had no representation in court.

He was tried, sentenced and given 30 days to appeal.

When we tell Emily that Stenala admits his guilt and is remorseful, she clicks her tongue and looks away. “Of course, after the hardship in jail, he is going to be remorseful,” she says.

“He is not someone who will change. We all think that his sentence is too short, and we expect him to come back and teach us a lesson.”

‘I will wait for him’

As the sun is about to set, the silhouette of a woman appears through a haze of dust. She has a girl at her side and a baby in her arms.

“That is Annie Fuleya,” a young girl says. “Stenala’s wife.”

She is on her way to gather wood. Stenala’s home village of Jali is just a few hundred metres away. Emily’s family crosses paths with Stenala’s every day.

Annie is tall with a brush-cut. She wears a long green skirt and a pale blue T-shirt.

In the weeks leading up to the incident, the 26-year-old says her husband was acting strangely. She recalls asking him to stay away from a friend she thought was trouble.

“I didn’t believe it at first but then after the conviction I felt let down by him,” she reflects, looking away as she completes her sentence. Then, without looking back at us, she adds: “I believe that he did it.”

Annie was pregnant when her husband was arrested and must now raise their four-year-old daughter Saamyato and their now 14-month-old baby Latifa alone.

She left Machinga for Stenala’s village after his arrest, believing it was safer to be close to her mother-in-law. Now, she works in other people’s fields and depends on financial support from the extended family to help raise her children.

“All I know is that he was found with body parts of an albino. I don’t know what parts. I don’t know what he did. I just feel disappointed,” Annie says, holding on to Latifa as the baby wriggles in her arms.

“But I understand that he may have done it because of our situation. He doesn’t earn enough as a fisherman. He looks after me, his mother, my mother, and two orphaned children from an aunt,” she explains softly. “Perhaps this is what drove him to do this.”

“I will wait for him. Because I have forgiven him,” she adds. “But he will have to conduct himself properly on his return.”

Stenala’s mother, who has been watching pensively as her daughter-in-law talks, agrees to speak to us under the shadow of a large kachere tree. Elizabeth Magawa is 49, and the resemblance to her son is immediately apparent. She smiles when we tell her this and the children who have gathered around, burst into laughter.

Elizabeth seems tired. She says she has aged over the past year.

“I didn’t look like this,” she sighs. “I spend sleepless nights wondering why Stenala would have done such a thing. He always helped the family.”

“It is something I will never understand,” she says. Then, she adds: “But I know he was fully capable of such a thing.”

Maybe Stenala did it because of our poverty, or because of peer pressure. I don’t know. – Elizabeth Magawa, mother of Stenala Shaibu, sentenced to six years for selling human bones

Her son’s arrest brought the family unwanted attention in the village, but Elizabeth says they haven’t suffered any serious repercussions.

“There was a lot of talk. They spoke about bones. But they’ve moved on,” she says.

“Maybe Stenala did it because of our poverty, or because of peer pressure. I don’t know.”

It has grown cold now and, without warning, Annie stands up and walks away, in the direction of her mother-in-law’s house.

Elizabeth watches as her daughter-in-law disappears into the darkness, her young daughter in tow.

Charles Nyasa: Convicted of trying to sell human tissue

Charles Nyasa cries as he tells his story.

The 24-year-old from Zomba district was sentenced to six years for being in possession of human flesh in March 2015.

He says he heard an advert for a witch doctor on radio or television – he can’t recall which – that promised “quick riches”. But when he visited the witch doctor, he was told to bring the placenta of a newborn. So, he says, he spent K8,000 ($11) buying one from nurses at a hospital.

When he took it to the witch doctor, he was accused of carrying a placenta from a newborn with albinism.

He was convicted but insists his case had nothing to do with albinism.

John Alfred: Convicted of trying to sell a child

Thirty-one-year-old John Alfred looks older than his years. He is feverish and sweating profusely, but wants to talk.

John was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to sell his own child.

“I did it because of my [financial] condition. No other reason,” he says, shaking.

The father of five from Naweta village, in Machinga district, was earning K4,000 ($5.50) for two weeks’ work in the gardens and on the farms of a businessman.

“My boss saw me living in poverty and said to me one day: ‘Why don’t you be brave, and sell that child of yours?’ pointing to my daughter Vanessa. He said there were buyers in Mozambique for children like her.”

I had five children, and I thought that maybe it wasn’t a problem to get rid of one.– John Alfred, sentenced to six years for trying to sell his daughter

John says that his daughter does not have albinism but “resembled one”. The authorities at the prison say the child does have the condition, although there is no mention of it in his prison file.

“I had five children, and I thought that maybe it wasn’t a problem to get rid of one,” John says.

In April 2015, without consulting his wife, he took their four-year-old daughter and left for Mozambique.

“I didn’t know where I was going. I was just going to Mozambique to find this market,” he says.

But the police intercepted him in Machinga and arrested him.

“I admitted it in court and was sentenced,” he tells us.

Melinda Mbendera: Convicted of attempted kidnapping

Twenty-year-old Melinda Mbendera is agitated. She twitches and bites her lips as she talks.

She was found guilty of trying to kidnap a child with albinism and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. But she insists that she is innocent. The court didn’t have enough evidence, she declares, and based their verdict solely on the claims of the child and her parents.

She says the judge told her that it would be safer for her to be in jail than on the streets, where she might face mob justice.

In 2016, 11 people suspected of being involved in digging graves or carrying human flesh were lynched in Malawi. In one case in the Nsanje district in March 2016, seven witch doctors accused of using bones in their potions were burned alive. A month earlier, a courthouse in the South Lunzu township in Blantyre, was razed to the ground after three people accused of murdering somebody with albinism had been bailed.

Melinda says she previously spent eight months in prison for stealing K200,000 ($275) from a family friend. She suspects her criminal record influenced the verdict in this case.

But, she maintains: “I didn’t spend eight months in this wretched place only to go out and commit another crime.”

“The police said that because I stole before, the probability was high that I did this … but why would I sell a human being?” she asks.

4 – A Question of Justice

Zomba, southern Malawi

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Edge Kanyongolo is a tall man with thick eyebrows and an even thicker moustache.

The associate professor of law at the University of Malawi in Zomba is sitting behind his desk. Behind him, a window showcases a courtyard garden. Beside him, textbooks and legal reports are carefully stacked on a wooden bookshelf.

“The attacks on persons with albinism are a manifestation of a larger problem,” he says. “On the surface, there is the question of superstition and witchcraft, but I think underlying all of that is desperation.”

Malawi has been in an economic crisis since 2012. It began when tobacco, the country’s premier export, dropped in price by more than 50 percent in 2010. In 2012, under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund, President Joyce Banda imposed a range of hard-hitting economic reforms that were most harshly felt by the poor. The currency was devalued by almost 50 percent and inflation reached more than 20 percent.

In 2015, the World Bank rated Malawi as the poorest country in the world, per capita.

Two out of every five Malawians of employable age are without work. According to the International Labour Organisation, three in four young workers have only irregular employment, while nine out of 10 work in the informal sector, where their employment is precarious and may change daily. At least 61 percent of Malawians live on less than $1.25 a day and 2.3 million are said to be food-insecure.

“People don’t have options to earn money. And this then drives them to be so desperate and, as some would say – so irrational – as to think that getting the body parts of a type of person and so on, may make you rich,” the professor explains.

But Elijah Kachikuwo, the senior deputy commissioner of police in Mangochi, disagrees. In fact, he grows agitated when questioned about the connection. He is standing in the dusty courtyard of the main police station in Mangochi.

“It is not poverty that is causing this,” he declares, the lines on his forehead deepening. “We aren’t faced with poverty for the first time in the country. We shouldn’t hide behind this … so that question is out of order.”

The traditional healers

Mphalare in Dedza, central region of Malawi

Masiyambuyo Njolomole and Usmani Ibrahima Banda live in the remote village of Mphalare in Dedza. It is 80km – about an hour’s drive along a dirt track – from Lilongwe.

They are both traditional healers.

Seven wooden stools lined up against a wall and a small coffee table are the only furniture inside the house where we meet them. There is no electricity, so the door has been left ajar. The sunlight illuminates the two men’s faces. A woman sweeps the yard outside, scraping at the dry earth.

Usmani wears a skull cap; Masiyambuyo a headdress made from monkey skin. The latter smiles as he presents his registration card. Usmani’s expired in 2011.

Masiyambuyo, a tall, thin man, makes it clear that neither of them use bones of any kind in their potions. He says “people like him” are being made scapegoats for criminals and a political conspiracy because the government has lost control of the situation. “This is a syndicate by some influential people in this country who are interested in body parts of albinos. They simply want to take the attention away from them; that is why they are accusing us,” he declares.

“Albinos have existed for a long time and we have also existed for a long time,” he adds.

In June 2016, Malawi’s High Court banned “witch doctors, traditional healers, charm sellers, fortune tellers and magicians,” in an effort to quell the trade in the bones of people with albinism.

Traditional healers such as Usmani and Masiyambuyo argue that only hurts the people they help.

“People think we deal with witchcraft, but we are here to help people,” Masiyambuyo says, earnestly, opening his arms.

According to the Traditional Healers Association of Malawi, up to 97 percent of the population visit traditional healers and herbalists. It is hard to verify this but it is clear that many people do use them, particularly in rural areas, where the state is often conspicuous by its absence.

There are two physicians and 59 nurses for every 100,000 people in Malawi. The ratio is the lowest in all of sub-Saharan Africa

Usmani says that, in such circumstances, the services he and Masiyambuyo provide are critical.

People think we deal with witchcraft, but we are here to help people.– Masiyambuyo Njolomole, a traditional healer based in Dedza

He was trained by his father, the softly spoken traditional healer explains, and used to specialise in sexually transmitted diseases. But, “nowadays, [it’s] cancer, blood pressure, asthma, using herbs and a mixture from seven trees” he adds, showing us plastic packets of concoctions made primarily from plants.

“People come to me when the hospitals have failed them.”

Dr Chilani is the spokesperson for Malawi’s Traditional Healers Association and tells us over the phone that “everyone [in the country], [from] farmers to politicians” uses traditional healers.

Many believe that illness involves an “element of being bewitched”, he explains. But, he insists, “sending people to kill others” isn’t part of their craft.

“We help people, we don’t kill them,” he says.

The new law targeting unlicensed traditional healers would purportedly help end these crimes. But the line between traditional healer and witch doctor isn’t always clear.

Mary Shawa, the former principal secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, says the distinction lies in registration. “No one who obeys the law needs to feel threatened,” she explains.

Chilani’s Facebook page offers “revenge spells, fertility spells, magic rings and witchcraft spells”, but also asks that anyone with information about the bones of somebody with albinism contact him so that it can be reported to the police. He says no one has been in touch.

“If we have been around for generations, and the killings of persons with albinism began roughly two years ago, what were we doing all this time?” he asks.

One lawyer for every 38,500 Malawians 

Lilongwe, central region of Malawi

Piles of paper cover Masauko Chamkakala’s desk. The director of Legal Aid, the body tasked with representing those who cannot afford legal representation, is in his office in Area 4 of Lilongwe.

The country’s legal system, he says, is a mess.

“More than 90 percent of the population cannot afford legal representation. We have seven lawyers for the entire country,” he says, his hands clasped and eyebrows raised.

The Legal Aid Act stipulates that anyone charged with a crime that could result in a custodial sentence is entitled to legal aid, but limited resources have resulted in the courts restricting this to homicide cases.

A 2013 report found that Malawi had fewer than 400 lawyers. That was one lawyer for every 38,500 people.

The jails are overcrowded and suspects can wait months or even years before their cases go to trial.

“If you go to the prisons [and] start going through the cases, you realise that so many of these people are not supposed to be there,” Masauko says, pointing out that: “For an ordinary person to get an appointment with a lawyer will cost him K20,000 ($27), while the [monthly] minimum wage is K18,000 ($25).”

Then there is the question of entrapment – a method that police officers have admitted to using but one which has so far led only to the arrest of sellers.

More than 90 percent of the population cannot afford legal representation. We have seven lawyers for the entire country.– Masauko Chamkakala, the director of Legal Aid

In a side office near Malawi’s High Court, Neverson Chisiza, a senior state advocate at Malawi’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, acknowledges that there have been discussions within the ministry about “why it is always sellers, those who are desperate [and] looking for quick money, [who] are caught, not the buyers”.

And without the buyers, the police are little closer to understanding the source of this trade.

Masouko says that the hysteria over the killings of people with albinism has reached such a height that “it is possible a person could be convicted for carrying antelope bones because they resemble human bones”.

And, he adds, those accused of any crime related to people with albinism are tried in “people’s courts”.

A question of government preparedness

Lilongwe, central region of Malawi

It is late on a Friday afternoon when Mary Shawa meets us in her office and her team are about to leave for the day. She is responsible for the security, health and wellbeing of Malawians with albinism.

“Until the atrocities started, we didn’t look at persons with albinism as people with a disability. We saw them as ordinary people,” she says, adjusting her glasses.

She slumps back into her chair. “If you look at the demographics, they are young and old, some working as lawyers and teachers, some still in school,” she adds.

Before moving to this ministry in 2012, Mary was the secretary for nutrition, HIV and Aids in the president’s office, credited with tackling the country’s HIV pandemic

She speaks authoritatively and frankly, rejecting any suggestion that the government hasn’t done enough to address the crimes committed against people with albinism. She rattles off the details of cases that have been solved and cites “ministerial research” to suggest that there is no market for the bones.

“[The] culprits get the bones and walk around looking for a market to sell them,” she says. 

Mary says her ministry has been leading a communications plan to tackle the crisis. “The radio messages, the billboards, this is all us,” she explains.

But it’s hard to tell if anyone is listening.

“We are also compiling a census, to register all persons with albinism in the country,” she says, leaning forward, her hands resting on the desk.

But beyond the issue of security, people with albinism have other needs – sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect them from the sun. The Ministry of Health does provide zinc oxide at clinics but that only helps with the blisters and lesions and doesn’t offer any protection. Moreover, patients have to travel to the main cities to access the ointment.

Mary hints at a lack of funding. Malawi is heavily reliant on donors, and it’s unlikely that sunscreen or hats top the government’s financial priorities or a foreign government’s agenda.

Village of Nambilikira, Dedza district, eastern Malawi

5 – The Future

Confident, assertive and friendly, Clement Gweza seems as though he was born to teach. He transforms the 60 rowdy teenagers into an orderly classroom and begins his social and environmental science lesson by scribbling “How to prevent air pollution” on the blackboard.

The 24-year-old is smartly dressed in an off-white shirt, pinstriped tie and black trousers.

“It was difficult at first,” he says. “The children found it hard to understand my albinism, because people, not just the learners, don’t think that a person with albinism can do something that can be recognised by society.”

He became a teacher, he says, because the tuition was free and he couldn’t afford to pay to study anything else.

At first, he worried that his students wouldn’t respect him. But, he says, “after a few weeks, the learners came round. They will tell you: ‘Ah! He is a good teacher and he understands our problems’.”

But he knows that, despite the respect he enjoys in the classroom, he is not safe outside of it.

The murder of one of his students, David Fletcher, made him afraid.

He has stopped walking outside at night and, if he must, he asks a close friend or relative to accompany him.

“If I can’t find someone to take me home, I will stay where I am and sleep there. I have no choice,” he says.

“Everything has changed. I look at the people, the friends around me, and I think ‘maybe he wants to kill me and make some money’.”

Stercia Kanyowa’s story

Masumpankhunda, in Lilongwe, central Malawi

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Twelve-year-old Stercia Kanyowa says she doesn’t want to beg. She wants an education, and to stand on her own two feet.

“I want to be a teacher first. Then maybe a journalist or a bank manager,” she declares.

Stercia is one of three children with albinism at the Malingunde School for the Visually Impaired. As an only child from a single-parent household, she says completing school is her only hope for the future. She has been here since 2011.

“Of course, I miss home. It’s long since I have gone home. Who doesn’t miss home?” she says, outside her dormitory.

The school is government-run, and functions almost exclusively on donations. There are 17 classrooms and 40 teachers for 3,000 students.

There is no electricity. Inside Stercia’s classroom, some students are huddled around braille machines, while others, such as 15-year-old Foster Kennedy, who also has albinism, use a magnifying glass to read textbooks.

“Everyone here is a friend. You would think we are born from the same mother,” Foster says, smiling.

He wants to be a radio personality or a songwriter, he explains.

The school yard is a thoroughfare for people walking or cycling to the town centre, which means that there are always strangers passing through. This concerns the school authorities. Without a wall or a gate, the school is vulnerable to theft and the students to being attacked. In early 2015, a 16-year-old student with albinism was almost abducted by a stranger who promised to buy her supplies from the local market.

“It is an open place. And anything can happen,” says Chiko Kamphandira, the school principal.

Back outside, Stercia, who is head of the school choir, begins to sing one of her favourite songs, before stopping suddenly, self-conscious and shy.

“I am going to work hard and fulfill my dreams,” she says. “I don’t see myself as any different. I am just a human being.”

Ian Simbota’s story

Blantyre, southern Malawi

Ian Simbota is eating a chicken tikka burger at a Pakistani fast food diner when we spot him one evening in Blantyre.

When we ask to talk to him, he scans our journalists’ credentials before agreeing. It turns out that he gets paid to talk as a late-night radio talk show host and a DJ with the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. And he has just returned from Kasungu, in the central region of Malawi, where he was the master of ceremonies for World International Albinism Awareness Day.

When he finishes his meal, he invites us to the radio studio.

Once on the airwaves, the slightly pensive man we met at the restaurant is no more. He taunts and teases his listeners. The studio is his safe place.

Later on, he talks of a double life. As a radio star, his voice and name are widely recognised. But not all of his listeners know that he has albinism. And there are times when his confident persona gives way to fear.

“Look, I am working at night. And people know I am here,” he says. “What are they thinking, planning? From here I will get a car and go home. And when I go home, I feel unsafe. What if they attack me? I think about it all the time.”

Ian became a full-time DJ in 2015. It was a dream come true. “I wanted to be a midwife as a child [but] thankfully my mother convinced me otherwise,” he laughs.

“And then, I wanted to be a radio host. Geoffrey Zigoma [the gospel singer] made a huge impact on my life.”

But life hasn’t been easy for Ian.

When he was born, he was the second child in his family to have albinism. His father walked out on them.

“My father told my mum to kill us. When she refused, he left,” he says, matter-of-factly.

“At that time, people didn’t know about the genes and stuff. My dad thought it was a curse.”

Ian’s mother left her village in southern Malawi and came to Blantyre with her two children to look for a job. She found one as a cleaner at the College of Medicine.

His father remarried. His next child was also born with albinism.

School was tough for Ian. He says his teachers didn’t realise that he was visually impaired so would just call him lazy. When he completed his certificate in journalism and applied for internships in radio, his visual impairments worked against him again – station managers were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to see the computer screens, he says.

Then his mother died after a prolonged illness, and the new job felt like the start of a new life for him. But then the attacks on people with albinism began.

“I can tell you, it has become difficult,” he says. “I have friends. But at this point in time, I only trust one friend in my circle. I have other friends, but then sometimes, you just wonder, you know, maybe, he is being used [to get close to me].”

He also has to face harassment on the streets and says his girlfriend left him last year because “she couldn’t deal with what … [he] was going through”.

But today he’s the voice of a successful radio show.

“I like radio because you could come naked to the studio and it doesn’t matter. People are listening to your voice,” he says, pausing for a second, before laughing.

“I have done a little bit of TV, but radio is better because listeners create a different picture of what they think you are. It’s only now [with the crisis] that people realise I am a person with albinism …”

Source: Malawi: killed for their bones – on the trail of the trade in human body parts

Nigeria: A harvest of ritual deaths

Recently, I posted on this site a large number of ritual murder cases in Nigeria. For this reason I wished to draw the readers’s attention to other African countries where similar crimes are being committed. However, these days Nigeria is making headlines which one cannot ignore. The number of ritual murders in Africa’s most populated country can no longer be counted – if that ever was the case. In my research and reporting on ‘money rituals’ in Nigeria – as ritualistic killings are commonly called in this West African country – I already experienced that I could hardly cope with the fast rising number of reported ritualistic murders committed by Yahoo boys, Yahoo Plus boys and whatever the names are that are given to these criminals who have no respect for a human life.

The below article by Hakim Jamiu is a cry to end these gruesome practices. She offers a grim insight in the recent spate in ritual murder cases in Nigeria, a devastating picture, and sketches a possible explanation for these practices which are based on superstition and fed by greed. I recognize a number of cases she mentions, some are notorious cases, whereas I am always unpleasantly surprised to learn about more ritual murder cases hitherto unknown. She does not have to dig deep to unveil ritual murder cases in nine states: Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Plateau, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo, Osun. I can without much effort add nine more states. Also see my previous posts on Nigeria (click on the category African countries in the top bar and select Nigeria in the drop down menu thus appearing).

I have repeatedly mentioned on this site that Nigeria ranks Number One in ritual murder cases in Africa. The following article confirms this sad conclusion.
(FVDK)

Nigeria: a harvest of ritual deaths

Published: March 17, 2022
By: Hakim Jamiu – The Cable, Nigeria

Nigeria is fast gaining notoriety as a country of ritualists with stories of ritual killings daily reported in the traditional and social media. The latest of this cannibalistic atrocity is the gruesome murder of 22-year-old Oluwabamise Ayankole who was abducted after boarding a Lagos state government-owned Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) bus and was later murdered and had parts of her body removed which confirmed the suspicion that she may have been killed for ritual purposes. Bamise, who was on her way home from work, was thereafter tossed out of the BRT Bus at Ebute Ero. Bamise, according to eyewitnesses, was still alive after she was tossed out of the vehicle at the Ebute Ero bridge but she gave up the ghost because she did not get help on time. Social media was awash with her last chat and video expressing fears for her safety inside the desolate BRT bus in which she and another lady and three men were the only occupants. As if she knew, her instinct warned her of the danger ahead but she was helpless. Murder in a BRT bus which is expected to be one of the safest means of transportation owned by the government of Lagos state is a sacrilege.

Bamise’s gruesome murder is only an addition to the harvest of deaths by ritualists in the last few weeks across Nigeria. While many Nigerians are yet to grapple with the shock of the gruesome beheading of Sofiat Kehinde, a 17-year-old girl in Abeokuta by four ritualists between ages 18 and 20, the murder of Bamise sent shock waves to all as anybody’s child, relative or friend could be the next victim. Late last year in Ado Ekiti, a seven-year-old girl, Demilade was sent on an errand by her mother four houses away but the little girl disappeared immediately and all efforts to find her proved abortive until her corpse was found in a pastor’s house the following day! Timothy Adegoke checked into a hotel in Ile-Ife to write his postgraduate examinations but he never came out alive as he was murdered overnight and buried some metres away from the hotel. The proprietor of the hotel is currently standing trial!

In Ogun state, a woman connived with her husband to kill her visiting friend and dismembered her. The remains of the victim were later found in a bucket in the couple’s room. A ritual killer, Timothy Odeniyi who was arrested by Amotekun Corps in Ondo state confessed that he used to harvest human parts at burial grounds which he sells to his clients. In Jos, 20-year-old Moses Oko killed Jennifer, a student of the University of Jos and removed some of her body parts. In Ikorodu, Lagos state, a suspected internet fraudster (Yahoo+), 32-year-old Afeez Olalore killed his younger brother for ritual purposes. In Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Uduak Akpan, a serial ritual killer killed 20-year-old Iniobong Umoren, a job seeker and buried her in a shallow grave. In Ilorin, Kwara state, a next-door neighbour allegedly murdered a groom-to-be for ritual purposes.

In 2019, Nigerians were alarmed about the arrest of one of Nigeria’s notorious ritual killers called Gracious David West in Port Harcourt who confessed to having killed at least 15 women for ritual purposes. In November 2019, one-year-old boy Eniola Kolawole was declared missing at Sotitobire Miracle Centre, Akure, Ondo state and has not been found till today. Irate youths set the church ablaze but the pastor who had been on trial has since been discharged and acquitted. One Shakirat was murdered in Iwo, Osun state and her body was dumped behind her mother’s shop with some of her parts missing!

It is an understatement to say that Satan has taken over our affairs completely as cases of ritual killings keep rising by the day! The question now is, are rituals for money-making real? Perhaps this is why the Nigerian-American media scholar, newspaper columnist and activist, Farooq Kperogi while bemoaning the unending spate of ritual murders in Nigeria argued, “the only solution lies in the liberation of Nigerians from stupid, backward, unproductive and murderous superstitions. The witch doctors who tell people to bring the body parts of murdered people to make them rich are often one of the most wretched people you can find on earth. If money rituals were real, they would be wealthy and won’t let anybody in on the secret”. Not many people agree with the view of Kperogi because if money-making rituals do not exist, why is ritual killing on the increase across the country? There have been many unverifiable variants and anecdotes concerning how money rituals work especially among yahoo boys which is called Yahoo plus. There is a type whereby ebora (a spirit) will bring the money to the yahoo boy after necessary sacrifices with human parts have been done. There is another type that will make the victim, usually, a foreigner obey whatever the yahoo boy says including sending millions of dollars on request. There is yet another type that involves using the pant of a woman. The pant, as they say, will fetch the ritualist a lot of money. It is not only yahoo boys that are into the ritual killing but they may have influenced others who are not into internet fraudsters to kill for rituals because of the belief that it is working for them. Some yahoo boys even go to the extent of eating human faeces, having spiritual baths in broad daylight at a public place, appearing only in pants in broad daylight to withdraw money from ATMs and so many bizarre and silly things!

The question remains, how much is ritual killing giving those involved in it that is worth the desperation of taking the life of a fellow human being? Definitely, it cannot give billions because many of the Yahoo plus boys even get broke after about three to six months while some go mad! So what’s the need for ritual killing? Apart from Yahoo boys, there are reports of a well-organised clientele of ritual killers which means that not all who are involved in ritual killing directly use the human parts but they are agents of some powerful personalities who buy the parts from them. There are reports that human parts markets exist in some areas of Lagos. It is also ridiculous that human life has been so reduced to nothingness that a human head is sold for as low as N20,000. Research also shows that many people who seek power and wealth like politicians and businessmen also use human parts for charms for good fortune and for fortification against real and perceived enemies! I wish to remind this group of politicians and businessmen that the greatest fortification and blessings come from God who is the custodian of power and fortune.

The underlying factor responsible for the present malaise is desperation on the part of our young ones who are eager to get rich quick. There is unprecedented moral bankruptcy and total collapse of family values of hard work, honesty and integrity. We should go beyond lamentations and take drastic actions. We must dig into the root cause of this barbaric act and approach it from there. What we are seeing are symptoms rather than cause. Our society has been sold to the dogs and many souls sold to the devil, the result is what is confronting us. A 17-year-old wanting to ride the latest automobile sold for millions of naira, not through any work but by any means. Society celebrating any rich person not minding the source of his or her wealth is responsible for the present madness. Images of boys displaying wealth on social media and messages that all that matter is money and the message is sinking fast and spreading like wildfire!

In one of the videos that circulated on the social media, a boy was asked if he could use her mother for rituals, he didn’t hesitate before saying yes as long as he will be rich! That’s what our society has turned to! We are breeding monsters and heartless beings who would not mind going to any length just to be rich! A child who would not blink an eyelid before killing his own mother for rituals would kill anybody without thinking about it! It is such a pity! It is common these days to find human head in a cellophane bag carried by a teenager sitting next to you in a bus! Human parts have become very common like animal parts ! It is such a shame that we have become a cannibalistic society! It is now normal to suspect the man or woman sitting next to you in a public place as a ritualist! It is that bad!

Beyond lamentations that have not helped, we must all resolve to end this monster that is threatening to consume all of us. Nobody is immune from ritual death. Bamise and other victims of ritual killings must not die in vain. Now that the driver of the BRT bus and his cohorts have been apprehended, their trial must be swift and transparent. Cameras must be installed in all BRT buses that would be monitored at a base station and on no account must this be switched off by any BRT driver.

The national and state houses of assembly should begin to work on laws to empower special courts to try ritual murder cases with stiffer penalties. Everybody must be vigilant and we must de-emphasise material wealth in our society while the source of wealth of emergency millionaires and new kids on the block must be questioned and such characters ostracized by the rest of the society as it was the practice on the days of yore when there was sanity.

We must say no to ritual killings! We are neither animals nor vampires! Even animals don’t kill themselves senselessly as we are witnessing presently!

Source: A harvest of ritual deaths

Sketchy overview of the most famous ritual murder cases in Liberia since the 1960s

As is clear from the article below, all Liberian presidents including William Tubman, William Tolbert, Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as well as other political leaders  are aware of the occurrence of ritual murders in the country, notably during election campaigns. It is even whispered that some presidents had a more than passive role in this respect but these – sometimes persistent – rumors have never been confirmed or proven.

The author, Melvin Pyne, presents an astonishing – sketchy – overview of ritualistic murders from the 1960s onwards hence covering a period of over half a century. 

He hasn’t mentioned them all. Certain cases have never been discovered. The thick Liberian forests hide many ritual murder crimes, I am very sure about this harsh reality, though without having proof of it. Nevertheless I am pretty sure that many people in Liberia will confirm this ‘gut feeling’ of mine (webmaster FVDK).

The Liberian government must take charge of our security, or else…

Published: January 17, 2022
By: Melvin D. Weh – Front Page Africa 

Last year ended on a rather low note for many  Liberians with the wave of alleged ritualistic, serial killings which instilled fear across the country. Communities and residents were on the brink of paranoia. Thus is upsetting the way of life for everyone.

Liberian history tells us that such killings have happened in the past. In the 60s and 70s, Gboyos (Heartmen) ravaged the southeastern parts of the country. Gboyos were a feared society that allegedly wore top hats, black suits, and captured people for ritualistic purposes. They took body parts, especially the hearts of their victims, thus earning them the nickname, Heartmen. The situation was so bad that the citizens pressured the government to act.

In 1979, the administration of President William Tolbert, took action. It investigated and convicted seven individuals including top government officials who were involved in the ritualistic murder of Mr. Moses Tweh in Harper, Maryland County. The court, after hearing the case, established a precedent. They handed down the verdict of guilty. The convicts were sentenced to death and subsequently executed publicly in Harper. Amongst those executed were James Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland County, Allen Yancy, representative of Maryland County and Philip B. Seyton, Senior Inspector of the Ministry of Commerce, Maryland County. This deterrent action practically slowed the act.

Years later in 1989, President Samuel Doe’s administration tried and convicted Defense Minister Maj. General Gray D. Allison and his wife Mrs. Angeline Watta Allison for the ritual murder of a police officer, J. Melvin Pyne in the Caldwell community. Gen. Allison was tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) at a military tribunal, found guilty and sent to Belleh Yalla, the maximum-security prison in Lofa County. His wife was convicted at ‘Criminal Court C’, and sentenced to life imprisonment according to the Mr. Max  Dennis, son of Mrs. Allison.

See: PYJ Hunted As Int’l War Crimes Investigators Arrive In Monrovia – Hot Pepper Releases More On How He Murdered Gray Allison And Wife (published August 12, 2015)

Allison was the most renowned government official convicted during the Doe regime. However, it is reported that an aide to president Doe, Mr. David K. Clarke and five others were tried, convicted and executed for the ritual murder of two little boys in 1987.

See: Ritual killings brings arrest of 6 Liberians (published May 4, 1987; New York Times).

Also: Ritual killings continue to be a plague  (Part III, ‘Liberia Past and Present’; webmaster FVDK))

And: Ritual killing laid to Liberian Official (published August 15, 1989; New York Times)

Liberia: Prince Johnson sentenced my mother to death – Watta Allison’s son breaks silence (published June 28, 2018, FP Africa)  

During the war years and President Taylor’s administration, there were rumors of murders for ‘Juju’ purposes. We must note that those were years of injustice and arbitrary justice, therefore there is not much record on how those cases were legally handled. Men in arms allegedly conducted speedy quasi-investigations and punished alleged perpetrators, wrongly too. Serious attention was not placed on the issues perhaps because killings were almost the norm, sadly.

On 29 June 2005 before the special general elections, there were reports of ritualistic killings almost across the country. The interim leader, Gyude Bryant warned that candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices will be executed if caught. While no one was successfully tried and convicted, Mr. Bryant’s warning seemed to have eased the situation for sometimes, as it was observed. ( BBC News, 29 June 2005)

In 2017 during the reign of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, protesters (women in majority) stormed Gbarnga City in demand of answers to over series of young women including 12 years old girl who were seen dead with missing body parts. The women of the county under the banner Bong Women Association and the Bong Christian Association marched in the streets demanding more actions from the government in addressing such monstrous crimes.

See: Vote-Rich Liberian County Protests Election Year Ritualistic Killings (published August 15, 2017, Front Page Africa)

Another notable case of ritual killing was the murder of seventeen years old Cyrus Yeawonyee in September 2015 in the suburb of the commercial city of Ganta. Cyrus was killed and body parts including eyes, ears and tongue were extracted according to report. Cyrus’ convicted killer was another teenager, Jacob Vambo who was sentenced to life in prison in February 2016. Vambo confessed to luring his friend Cyrus into the trap of powerful muscular men who allegedly killed him for a well-connected government official. His claims of the involvement of others in the killing could not be authenticated to punish those he had accused.

However, his lawyer (a Public Defendant) Cllr. Mewaseh Payebayee (late) and some observers believed his claims as they felt such a lanky looking child was incapable of overpowering someone and committing such gruesome murder.

A day after the investigation into Cyrus’ murder case by the Liberia National Police-LNP on 29th September 2015, Ganta experienced one of the most violent disruptions since the civil war. This time, it was a motorcyclist. The news of Cyrus killing was gradually fueling tension when the young man was discovered dead with blood allegedly drained from his body for the wealthy businessperson. Though, investigation disproved the allegation of ritual killing and established that the killing happened as a result of robbery, the damage was done. The popular Alvino Hotel in the City was looted and burned while two persons were reported dead, among the many damages done. About fifty arrests were made in connection to the riot. 

Blood and Power: Investigating a Ritual Murder in Liberia. November 28, 2017 article.
While a teenager is convicted of a gruesome killing, questions linger about occult violence among the power elite. By Ashoka Mokpo 
Click on image to access article 

With such history, it is no surprise why the public will be alarmed if there is a rearing up of such activities. The FrontPage Africa News Paper September 23, 2021 edition reported the alleged murder of John Tubman at his residence with deep cuts in the neck. John was the son of Liberia’s longest serving president William V.S. Tubman. Barely a month later, the death was reported of the renowned Rev. William Richard Tolbert, III, a peace ambassador and son of another former president, William Richard Tolbert, Jr. then, a Madam Maude Elliot of the Liberia Immigration Services (LIS) was also found dead. Both were murdered in their respective homes in similar conditions.

Additionally, amongst many others, the FrontPage Africa newspaper published on November 8, 2021 a list of several murders all of which occurred this year alone with victims displaying similar conditions. On that list was Jane Doe (Unidentified Woman) found on 17th Street Beach (September); Mordecai Nyemah (May), Florence Massaquoi (February), as well as, Robert M. Blamo, Jr., Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, and Siafa G. Boimah.

While last year, amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, several other killings occurred- Elijah Polumah, Abraham Tumay, and George B. Fanbutu, mentioning a few.

But most troubling of all this were two separate incidents. First, is a statement by President George Weah in November, when he signed the book of condolence for the late Mr. Emmanuel Barten Nyenswa. Mr. Weah is on record urging citizens and residents to install at their premises, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras. He pointed out that government’s focus of security was on the country’s borders. Mr. Nyensuah’s death like three other auditors from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is still being investigated. Many believe their deaths were for political reasons or cover up for some malpractices they may have uncovered.

Mr. Weah is either unaware of the financial hardship in the country or does not care much about the innocent lives being lost. A people that can barely afford, how does he expect them to buy CCTVs that cost $1000 USD at a minimum? With many parts of the city out of electricity, how does he expect the cameras to work?

The second concerning issue is the remark made by the Liberia National Police Inspector General, Col. Patrick Sudue at Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press conference.  Col. Sudue alleged that the news of serial and ritualistic killings in Monrovia and other parts of the country were fake stories being created by opposition politicians who want to implant fear and give negative image of the country and malign government’s reputation.

The IG’s statement on these recent issues suggests a political posturing. While Col. Sudue is a political appointee, the office of the Inspector General needs to be apolitical and professional, always endeavoring to maintain the integrity and independence of the Liberia National Police.

In midst of this scaring security situation, such comments undermine the confidence of the people in the government and the ability of the Liberian National Police to combat these criminal acts.

Such levels of insecurities lead to several dire consequences. Those who can afford, would now take the law into their own hands, those who can’t might find other means not necessarily legal. Are we to now become a lawless society? Then, there is the investment angle. It doesn’t present a secured environment for investors. They could then leave the country and with them other citizens and residents out of fear would flee the country. Investors (local and international) do shy away from investing due to insecurity and lack of justice. When investors do not invest, economically the country is affected as unemployment increases. Government incomes (personal and corporate income taxes are lost. Aggrieved citizens usually take mob justice as the only alternative. These amongst many negative reactions are recipes for chaos and anarchy.

The questions now are: what can be done here to change the atmosphere of fear? And how can we do it?

To these questions considering the preceding, the government is under obligation to protect the lives of those residing in the country. To ensure that the citizens do not regret electing the current administration, she has to act, and do it now. To avoid mob justice, the government must take charge of matters immediately. To avoid fleeing of citizens and other residents from the country, the government must muster the courage to dig deep into these happenings and punish perpetrators. To ensure current and potential investors that their lives and properties will be protected here, the government must change gear and expedite investigations into these matters.

In closing, while these acts have happened in the past, the onus is always on the government to fight them and protect the people. The Liberian National Police has to step-up, take control of the security, and avoid becoming political in handling these issues.

Source: The Liberian Government Must Take Charge Of Our Security, Or Else…

The danger of accusing an innocent person

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.

Without a widespread belief in the existence of ‘Muti’ killings, as ritualistic murders are being called in Southern Africa, the ordinary people wouldn’t accuse someone indiscriminately from involvement in Muti murders. The uneasy reality is that people do know that Muti murders actually occur. And that’s why, this is the third reason why I publish the article below: to demonstrate that Muti murders do occupy the people’s mind and the fear of being the victim constitutes a real danger, also in Botswana as I’ve reported earlier. See some of my previous posts, e.g. ‘Botswana: Cabinet minister Olopeng condemns mob justice‘ (post of July 24, 2018 but referring to a 2017 article), ‘Botswana: Ritual killers get jail sentences‘ (March 3, 2019, on a Muti murder case dating back as far as 2006), ‘The business, science behind ritual killings‘ (June 22, 2020) and ‘Southern Africa: shocking details of ‘muti’ murders‘ (May 21, 2021).   
(webmaster FVDK).

Botswana: Suspected Raboko Clears His Name

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.

Source: Suspected Raboko Clears His Name

Nigeria: a frightening analysis of ritual killings in the southwest of the country (2014 – 2021)

During the past year, many of my posts on this site focused on Nigeria and the alarming scale of ritual murders and related crimes in this country, contributing to a nation-wide security problem though, one knows, Nigeria’s security problem has many faces. See my February 2, 2021 post Security challenges in Nigeria.

This post was the third in a row focussing the growing security problems which nearly 200 million Nigerians face daily. On January 30, I published Nigeria: curbing the menace of ritual killings in the South West and on January 31, I posted Nigeria: Insecurity: Government must keep its end in this social contract, says Ekhomu.

Also this year I drew attention to the scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria (on May 11) and published a plea ‘Let the carnage of ritual killings in Nigeria stop‘ (on March 7). 

On May 26, 2021 a Nigerian reporter, Ayodele Oluwafemi, of The Cable, a Nigerian news outlet, published a frightening analysis of mysterious disappearances and ritual murders during the past seven years. Already the list of missing and/or murdered persons is impressive.  

“Although reported cases of ritual killings show that the incident happens in all regions of the country — media reports suggest that the south-west accounts for a large percent of the killings.”

Subsequently the author analyses some of the media reports published in the past few years on ritual killings in the south-west region of the country.

Warning: the graphic description of the ritual murders may upset certain readers (FVDK).

NB: The links included in the following Cable article are the original links and consequently, I am not responsible for their proper functioning (FVDK). 

Overview: how south-west is becoming a hotbed of ritual killings in Nigeria

Published: May 26, 2021
By: Ayodele Oluwafemi – The Cable, Nigeria

In recent times, reported cases of ritual killings have surged in many parts of the country. Law enforcement agencies have arrested many suspects of ritual killings — with gory pictures of human skulls and dismembered bodies.

Aside from the arrest and parade of suspected ritualists by the police, the Nigerian social media space has become a place where users mobilise members of the public to help find missing friends, colleagues, and family members.

As a result of this trend of missing persons, Enough is Enough (EiE), a civil society organisation, created a website alongside social media platforms to document cases of missing persons.

“Nigerians are reported missing daily. But most often, there are no records of these missing people, it is our mandate to document these records and make it easy to find those who are lost and missing,” an excerpt on the website’s front page says.

In most cases, some of these persons declared missing are found but many remain missing — with the hope of getting found by their families and friends dimming every passing day.

The trend of missing persons and the police’ arrest of suspected ritual killers suggest that many of those declared missing may have been victims of ritual killers.

Although reported cases of ritual killings show that the incident happens in all regions of the country — media reports suggest that the south-west accounts for a large percent of the killings.

TheCable analysed some of the media reports published in the past few years on ritual killings in the south-west region of the country.

On March 24, 2014, the nation was thrown into a moment of confusion when a kidnappers’ den was discovered in Soka community, Ibadan, Oyo state.

The den was discovered by some commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as ”okada”, who were searching for two of their colleagues after they took two passengers to the community without returning.

After the den was busted, human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims which were reserved for ritual purposes, were discovered.

Personal items like bags, shoes, and identity cards which appeared to be victims’ belongings were also seen at the den.

Since the 2014 shocking discovery at Soka, there have been multiple revelations of suspected ritual killings, especially in the south-west of the country.

On May 6, 2015, the decomposing body of Precious Kessington Omorodion, a 23-year-old, was recovered in a  kidnappers’ den at Ota, Ogun state after 18 days of disappearance.

The police also rescued a 28-year-old woman found in the uncompleted building.

In 2016, the Ogun police discovered a ritualists’ den located within an abandoned filling station at Iyana-Ilogbo axis of Sango-Ota of Ogun state, following a tip-off from a member of the community.

The police arrested two suspected ritualists in connection with the activities carried out in the den.

On August 30, 2017, two people were killed by a mob in the Mushin area of Lagos state over alleged involvement in kidnappings and ritual killings. 

The incident was said to have happened at Challenge bus stop, Mushin, after a vulcaniser sighted a suspected mad man discussing with someone in a tunnel at the bus stop.

On October 7, 2017, the Ogun police arrested six members of a syndicate allegedly involved in killing people for ritual purposes at different locations across the state.

The police said two members of the syndicate were caught with a bag containing fresh and dried human parts.

On August 20, 2018, the Lagos police arrested Taiwo Akinola, a suspected cult member, for allegedly attempting to kill Alice Akinola, his mother, for money rituals.

It was reported that the assailant attacked his mother by hitting a plank on her head at their residence at Raji Ajanaku street, Alaja road, Ayobo axis of Lagos after he had sent his nephew to go and buy a white handkerchief and a pack of cigarette.

On November 27, 2018, two brothers identified as Saheed Obadimeji and Ayodeji Obadimeji were said to have beheaded a teenage boy at an uncompleted buildingin Sapati town, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.

It was reported that the suspects cut off the boy’s head for the purpose of selling it for N200,000.

The suspects have been remanded in prison.

On January 18, 2019, the Ekiti police busted a ritualists’ den in Odo, Ado Ekiti, and arrested two suspected ritualists, after a tip-off from members of the community on suspicion of ritual activities in the area.

On June 20, 2019, Dotun Ogunlade, a prophet popularly called ‘Arole Jesu’, was arrested in Igboora area of Oyo state for the alleged murder of Bosede Ogunlade, a 25-year-old housewife for ritual purposes. 

 The prophet was said to have lured Bosede, who hailed from Ilorin in Kwara state, with the promise of providing solution to her economic and marital problems. 

On October 5, 2019, the Ogun police arrested two men, Emmanuel Aro, aged 25, and Anu Olofinju, aged 25, with a human skull along Ijoun road, Eggua axis of the state.

The two suspects were said to have been sighted at a cemetery, digging the grave of the mother of one Amoo Bankole.

In June 2020, residents of Akinyele LGA in Oyo state were thrown into panic over the series of rape and murders that occurred in the area.

Within one month, three young ladies — Grace Oshiagwu, Barakat Bello, and Azeezat Somuyiwa — were murdered in their residences located in Akinyele LGA in a pattern that suggested ritual killing.

On the Akinyele killings, the police arrested one Sunday Shodipe, a 19-year-old suspect, who confessed that he received food and N500 for each of the six persons murdered in the area.

He said he was sent on the mission by a 50-year-old herbalist, whom he claimed was his master.

“Anytime I’m to go for the killing, baba (referring to the herbalist) will give me some charms and also teach me some incantation to be recited so that nobody will see me at the scene of the crime,” he said.

On August 14, 2020,  the Ondo police arrested one Festus Adebayo, a 65-year-old pastor alongside Gbemisola Olufusi for alleged involvement in ritual activities.

The duo was accused of using the menstrual pad of one Oluwasemilore Iluyomade, a 20-year-old girlfriend of Olufusi for ritual purposes.

On 29 October 2020, Rotimi Olukoju, a guard with a microfinance bank was reportedly killed by suspected ritualists and his head cut off at Okia area of Oka-Akoko, Ondo state.

The deceased met the suspected ritualists on his way to the farm.

On December 7, 2020, Osun police uncovered a ritualist den allegedly operated by two siblings identified as Monsuru Tajudeen and Lawal Tajudeen, located around Yemoja area in Iwo, Osun state.

The suspects were arrested after a phone belonging to a missing person was tracked to one of the suspects. Corpses were also discovered in the suspects’ house — a development that made angry youths in the area raze the building.

On January 17, 2021, an elderly man, who according to residents, usually acts like a mentally unstable person, was arrested by the police for alleged kidnapping and ritual activities in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state.

The police discovered some items belonging to his victims like cheque books, wigs, and ATM cards in an abandoned uncompleted building adjacent to the Ekiti State Teaching Hospital, where the suspect lived.

On April 12, 2021, a woman — identified as Iya Elekuru — was murdered in a building by suspected ritualists in Ile-Ife, Osun state. Her killers were said to have lured her into the building under the pretence they went to buy food from her.

When her corpse was discovered, the head and hands had been cut off.

RIGHT TO LIFE

Every Nigerian citizen is entitled to the right to life as enshrined in section 33 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).  The right to life can only be denied if such a person is sentenced by the court when found guilty of a criminal offence.

Those who engage in ritual killings risk heavy punishment when convicted by the court as states have legal provisions to punish ritual killers and kidnappers.

Despite the legal provisions against ritual killings and other related capital offences, ritual killings still persist.

Source: How south-west is becoming a hotbed of ritual killings in Nigeria

Nigeria: Enugu state man arrested in Anambra for allegedly kidnapping teenagers for ritualistic purposes

One has to be extremely cautious when reading news like the following arrest of a man from Enugu State, residing in neighboring Anambra State, who is suspected of luring teenagers to hotels where they will be assaulted, raped, murdered while body parts are being used for ‘money rituals’. 

Notwithstanding the foregoing I do not want to withhold the readers this story – not for sensational purposes but to demonstrate how the phenomenon of money rituals continues to emerge in virtually every state of Nigeria, with a population of about 200 miilion Africa’s most populated country.
NB Also see my post of tomorrow, December 19, 2021 (webmaster FVDK).

How Police arrested suspected rape, ritual kingpin that terrorizes teenage girls in Eastern states

Published: December 17, 2021
By: Vincent Ujummadu, Awka; Ike Nsukka & Esther Onyegbulah – The Vanguard, Nigeria

A middle-aged man (name withheld) suspected to be the ring-leader of a deadly gang that specializes in raping and using teenagers for rituals has been arrested by the police in Zone 13, Anambra State. 

The suspect said to reside in Obosi, Anambra State but hails from Ovoko, Nsukka in Enugu State was allegedly involved in luring unsuspecting teenagers in higher institutions of learning in the Eastern states of the country to hotels where they will be raped, after which their blood will be collected for ritual. Police sources said the suspect whose means of livelihood are unknown claims to be building hotels and hostels and always invited his victims to hotels with promises of showering them with gifts. 

How his exploits blew open

The suspect said to reside in Obosi, Anambra State but hails from Ovoko, Nsukka in Enugu State was allegedly involved in luring unsuspecting teenagers in higher institutions of learning in the Eastern states of the country to hotels where they will be raped, after which their blood will be collected for ritual. Police sources said the suspect whose means of livelihood are unknown claims to be building hotels and hostels and always invited his victims to hotels with promises of showering them with gifts. 

Father of the victim, who is a senior lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, who pleaded for the family’s name not to be mentioned, stated that in the SOS message (print out shown to our reporter), her daughter was pleading passionately with her roommate to engage a commercial motorcyclist urgently and race to the hotel to save her life. 

According to the father of the victim, as she was busy sending the message crying for help, the impatient suspect was already calling on her to come out of the bathroom. “When she failed to respond, the suspect who was blaring the radio set in high decibels with a view to covering up his deeds banged furiously on the bathroom door and started destroying it.

Roommates to the rescue

“Luckily, her friends in the campus, who found it very difficult to get a commercial motorcyclist at the hour of the night succeeded at last and rushed to the hotel, with her doctor, who was also alerted.  They broke into room 101 and rescued the girl. Both the students and other lodgers in the hotel, including players of the famous Enugu Rangers International, nearly lynched the suspect to death but for the intervention of security guards from the hotel, who assured of handing him over to the police.  

“However, the story took a different dimension after the police at Nsukka Division arrived the scene, only to be told that the suspect escaped from the grip of the hotel’s security guards. They only succeeded in recovering the suspect’s abandoned vehicle, bloodstained bedsheet in the room where the victim was raped, and CCTV footages in the hotel. 

When investigations continued, we started suspecting fowl play when overtures were being made to us for the matter to be settled amicably, while police investigators kept treating the matter as a mere rape case, without addressing the glaring issue of attempted murder for ritual.

Based on this, we quickly transferred the case to Zone 13, Ukpor, Anambra State, where fresh investigations commenced. 

Intelligence report that paid off.

“The police at the zone, together with some military men involved in operation in the east, swiftly embarked on intelligence and scientific investigation and succeeded in arresting the suspect, while he had concluded plans to flee to Ivory Coast,” he stated.

It was learned that while they were tracking the suspect, they nearly succeeded twice at arresting him, while he was also luring another teenage student to a hotel in Nsukka to perform the same act.  He narrowly escaped during the encounter. However, police sources said they are still trying unravel the faith of the girls he went out with during that period. 

It was gathered that police search for him paid off few weeks later, after vigilante men at Obosi, Anambra State who were alerted over his atrocities, succeeded in arresting him while he was almost trying to escape to Ivory Coast.  The suspect, according to sources, made serious overtures of huge financial rewards to the vigilante group at Obosi to set him free, but the group resisted the temptation and handed him over to the police. 

His operational weapons

Vanguard Metro learned that after his arrest, signs of charms, anti-gun and matchete charms were seen all over his body.  However, police sources said initially after his arrest, he accused the victim and her roommate of being lesbians but, later, he started narrating his exploits with his gang. It was disclosed that the suspect is a secondary school drop-out and has no known means of livelihood.  He reportedly lodges in expensive hotels and drives two cars. He allegedly uses different names like Emeka, Emmy, Oderah Loius, during his criminal exploits and had spent some time in Ghana, where he was said to have escaped after he was exposed. 

He also goes about to hotels with radio speakers to control noise, an odour perfume to control smell from his victim’s dead bodies; ropes, belts for restraining the victims and tying them up. These items were recovered together with the CCTV footages in the hotel. In some of his chats, collected through intelligence report, he was also advertising on his whatsaap status that young girls should contact him to collect their school fees and that he was organising a big burial at Nsukka, that they should come and pick their school fees.

Police sources further said that he goes about with sack of money, living in hotels, driving SUV’s and wearing expensive Rolex watches and gold bangles, which he uses to entice his victims. He also lives in three addresses in Obosi and Nsukka.

My daughter has been traumatized

Father of the victim, who said his daughter has been traumatised after the incident, told Metro: “All we are saying is that police must arrest members of the gang hiding outside and busy pressing buttons for their master to be freed. We have all the evidence to show that it is not just a case of rape, but an attempted ritual murder. All his collaborators helping him to subvert justice must be brought to book.

“We learned that the hotel management sacked the manager and some staff that witnessed the incident, to cover up for the suspect, despite helping him to escape when he was held by the mob to be handed to the police. They also gave the suspect master key to the room he gave to his gang members, which they used to move out most of the suspect’s belongings.”

Reactions

When contacted, the General Manager of Jerry Marriott Hotel and Suites in Nsukka Local government area of Enugu State, where the incident allegedly took place, Patrick Agu said he was not yet employed by the hotel management when one Louis Onyeke allegedly raped and attempted to murder the UNN student in the hotel facility. However, Agu said his enquires revealed that the incident happened in the hotel and that police were already investigating the case. 

He also exonerated the hotel management from the escape of the suspect, who has now been arrested by police. “When that incident happened, I was not yet an employee of Jerry Marriott Hotel. However, upon my enquires, I learnt that the incident really took place. Already, the police are handling the matter and the suspects are all reporting to Zone 13, Ukpor-Dunukofia, Anambra State, to answer for their crime. That is all I can say about the incident,” he explained.

While reacting to the development, the spokesperson of Enugu State Police Command, Daniel Ndukwe, said he needed time to verify the incident.  “Is it something that happened three months ago? You have to hold on while I verify the incident, because it is not recent,” he said.

In his comment, when contacted, the Assistant Inspector- General of Police in-charge of Zone 13, Ukpor-Dunukofia, Muri Musa, told Metro: ”The case of rape against the suspect from Ovoko, Nsukka in Enugu State, who attempted to rape a doctor’s daughter’s is before Zone 13. We are working on it. When we conclude our investigation, if there is any prima facie case against the suspect, he will be arraigned in the court of law. The suspect has been arrested and he is in our custody.”

Source: How Police arrested suspected rape, ritual kingpin that terrorizes teenage girls in Eastern states

Ritual murders which have shaken Ghana since the 1980s

Ritualistic activities and ritual murders seem to be on the rise in Ghana. Yesterday I referred to some recent cases. However, ritual killings are nothing new in this West African country, as the Ghana Web article of August 29 (presented below) illustrates.

I have reported earlier on ritual murders in Ghana, covering the 2006 – 2012 period, with more than 30 reported ritual murders between 2006 and 2012, and also including a ritual murder case dating back as far as 1944. And, of course, one of the most notorious ritual murder cases in recent times is the Kasoa murder case.

Regrettably, most links to the articles on ritual murders of the 2006-2012 period (referred to above) have disappeared. It is for this reason that I’ve changed methods on the present site where I am including an exact copy of the articles mentioned reporting ritual murder cases (‘copy-paste’). In respect of the source used I am always including a reference to the source and the author of the article(s).

Soon more developments in the ongoing trial of the accused ritual murderers in the Kasoa ritual murder case, two teenagers (webmaster FVDK).

Ritual killings for human parts: these cases have shaken Ghana since the 1980s

Dr. Beckley was notorious for being involved in many ritual killings

Published: August 29, 2021
By: Ghana Web

The 1980s killings:

Charles Ebo Quansah, The Strangler
The following two sections report on a notorious serial killer and not on ritual murders and have for this reason been deleted by the webmaster (FVDK). 

History of Dr. Beckley – The occultist who sent fears down the spine of everyone in Ghana
Screenshot. You may watch the video on YouTube by clicking here

More on these ritual killings in tomorrow’s posting (FVDK).

Source: Ritual killings for human parts, others – These cases have shaken Ghana since the 1980s

Uganda: father kills his two children for money ritual – police prevents mob justice

Ritual murders, human sacrifices, money rituals, they recently resulted in the enactment of a law by the Ugandan parliament introducing the capital punishment for convicted perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Meanwhile reports on these atrocities continue to dominate the local news. It is again a shocking story. 

In Jiira Village in Bbaale Sub-county, Kayunga District, a father allegedly killed his two young children (7 and 3 years old) for ‘money ritual’. The police had to intervene to prevent a crowd from attacking the 46-year old man and lynching him.

Kayunga District has a bad reputation for human sacrifice. In 2018, a witchdoctor was arrested with five bodies at his shrine. See for more details the second article below which also contains more child-sacrifice murder cases including one involving businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi who was found guilty of murdering a 12-year-old boy for ritualistic purposes in October 2008.

Warning: some readers may find the following articles disturbing (webmaster FVDK).

Father arrested for allegedly killing his two children for money ritual

Published: May 16, 2021
By: The Street Journal – Jenny Ese Obukohwo

A 46-year-old man, Musilumu Mbwire, has been arrested for allegedly killing his two children for money ritual at Jiira Village in Bbaale Sub-county, Kayunga District, Uganda, Daily Monitor reports. (See below – webmaster FVDK

The body of one of the two children, Latif Kamulasi, 7, was exhumed by police pathologists on Tuesday, May 13, but that of his sibling, 3-year-old Sahum Baizambona, could not be located after a long search.

The police say the father confessed to having slit his children’s throats after his employer asked for their blood promising to pay him Shs4 million and a commercial building at Bbaale trading centre.

“My boss promised me Shs4m and a house if I sacrificed my children and gave him the blood, but he has so far paid me Shs100,000,” the police quoted Mr Mbwire to have said. 

His employer, however, has denied any involvement in the shocking killing. Both men are in custody at Kayunga Central Police Station to assist police with investigations into the outrageous deed.

The police say producing the suspects in court to be charged, has been delayed by public holidays for President Museveni’s swearing-in on Wednesday and Idd-ul-Fitr on Thursday.

Spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate spokesperson, Mr. Charles Twine, said during a media briefing two weeks ago, the suspect’s brother, Mr. Simon Kibubu, who lives in the same area, said he got concerned when he discovered that two of Mbwire’s children were missing.

“When Mr Kibubu asked his brother where the children were, he claimed he had taken them to their sister, Mary Kantono, who lives in the same parish,” Mr Twine said.

But when Mr. Kabubu asked Ms. Kantono about the children’s whereabouts, she said she was unaware. This prompted Mr. Kibubu to notify the area defense secretary, Mr. Asuman Bagala, and lodge a complaint with the police at Bbaale. The police then promptly arrested Mbwire. 

Mr Twine and his team combed the bushes in Jjiira Village as the children’s father walked them from one spot to another to locate his children’s remains.

Three locations that Mr Mbwire had pointed out as burial spots turned out false, enraging more the charged crowd and police investigators. The crowd, among whom were relatives and residents, hurled insults and curses at the father.

Mr Mbwire then led the group to a site where they had burnt charcoal several months ago. There he was given a hoe and dug out lumps of damp and loosened soil with the help of some area residents.

More scoops yielded the decomposed body as tears rolled down the cheeks of some of the bystanders, who demanded the police surrender the suspect to them.

But the police quickly stepped in to shield Mr Mbwire from attack, but handed him gloves which he wore to scoop out the body of his son. Mr Twine said the suspect told them he buried Kamulasi in late March.

After exhuming the first body, the suspect led them to a forest where he said he had buried the second child, Baizambona. But the police failed to locate the body after digging up at several sites he had led them to. At 7pm, the police called off the search and promised to return later. 

Mr Twine said they would resume the search this week and castigated people who look for wealth through human sacrifice.

“Wealth is gotten through hard work, not human sacrifice,” he warned.

The body of Kamulasi was taken to Mulago national referral hospital for a post-mortem as scene-of-crime officers and other detectives continue to gather more evidence.

Police said they plan to submit the case file to the resident state attorney soon for a decision on whether the preferred charge of murder against the suspects is sustainable.

Source: Father arrested for allegedly killing his two children for money ritual

Related article:

Father kills own children for cash

The suspects are bundled onto a police pick-up truck after they were arrested on May 12 . PHOTO/ FRED MUZAALE

Published: May 15, 2021
By: Daily Monitor, Uganda – Fred Muzaale  

Jiira Village in Bbaale Sub-county, Kayunga District, was on Tuesday engulfed in grief as police dug up the body of one of two children allegedly killed by their father in a suspected ritual sacrifice.

The residents, especially women, yelled and wailed as police pathologists exhumed the decomposed body of Latif Kamulasi, 7.
The body of his sibling, 3-year-old Sahum Baizambona, could not be located, even after a long search.

The police say the children’s father, Musilumu Mbwire, 46, confessed to have slit the throats of his two children after his employer asked for their blood on promise for Shs4 million payment.

A police detective knowledgeable about the inquiries said the suspect, during investigations, said he was promised a commercial building at Bbaale Trading Centre. But his employer has denied any involvement in the shocking killing.

By press time, both men were in custody at Kayunga Central Police Station to assist police with investigations into the outrageous deed.
The police say producing the suspects in court to be charged has been delayed by public holidays for President Museveni’s swearing-in on Wednesday and Idd-ul-Fitr on Thursday.

The grim incident comes only days after Parliament passed a law that criminalises human sacrifice.
The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice legislation, introduced by Ayivu County MP Bernard Atiku, was enacted by Parliament last week and only awaits President Museveni’s approval to provide a death sentence as the highest penalty for any person convicted of the offence.   

Amid a downpour, a team of police doctors led by Mr Charles Twine, the Criminal Investigations Directorate spokesperson, combed the bushes in Jjiira Village as the children’s father walked them from one spot to another to locate his children’s remains.

Three locations that Mr Mbwire had pointed out as burial spots turned out false, enraging more the charged crowd and police investigators.
The crowd, among whom were relatives and residents, hurled insults and curses at the father. Mr Mbwire then led the group to a site where they had burnt charcoal several months ago. 

Here, he was given a hoe and dug out lumps of damp and loosened soil with the help of some area residents.
Soon, a blanket in which he wrapped Kamulasi’s body popped out, driving up emotions as the crowd surged forward, threatening to lynch Mr Mbwire.
More scoops yielded the decomposed body as tears rolled down the cheeks of some of the bystanders, who demanded the police surrender the suspect to them.

But the police quickly stepped in to shield Mr Mbwire from attack, but handed him gloves which he wore to scoop out the body of his 7-year-old son, whom the police said he had confessed to killing and secretly burying in March.

As he pulled out the remains from the shallow grave, some of the body parts dropped off as a horrid stench blew over the area.
The residents went wild as they surged to grab Mr Mbwire, but others were overwhelmed and broke down, crying uncontrollably.
Mr Twine said the suspect told them he buried Kamulasi late March.
After exhuming the first body, the suspect led them to a forest where he said he had buried the second child, Baizambona. But the police failed to locate the body after digging up at several sites he had led them to.

As darkness fell at 7pm, the police called off the search and promised to return later this week.

Discovery
During a media briefing two weeks ago, Mr Twine said Mr Mbwire’s brother, Mr Simon Kibubu, who lives in the same area, got concerned when he discovered that two of Mbwire’s children were missing.

“When Mr Kibubu asked his brother where the children were, he claimed he had taken them to their sister, Mary Kantono, who lives in the same parish,” Mr Twine said.

But when Mr Kabubu asked Ms Kantono about the children’s whereabouts, she said she was unaware.
This prompted Mr Kibubu to notify the area defence secretary, Mr Asuman Bagala, and lodge a complaint with the police at Bbaale.

The police then promptly arrested Mbwire, who they said told detectives that he had sacrificed his children for self-enrichment.
“My boss promised me Shs4m and a house if I sacrificed my children and gave him the blood, but he has so far paid me Shs100,000,” the police quoted Mr Mbwire to have said.

Mr Twine said they would resume the search this week and castigated people who look for wealth through human sacrifice.
“Wealth is gotten through hard work, not human sacrifice,” he warned.

The retrieved body of Kamulasi was taken to Mulago National Referral Hospital for a post-mortem as scene-of-crime officers and other detectives continue to gather more evidence.

Police said they plan to submit the case file to the resident state attorney soon for a decision on whether the preferred charge of murder against the suspects is sustainable.

Kayunga District has a notorious reputation for human sacrifice. In 2018, a witchdoctor was arrested with five bodies at his shrine.

Background- Police report
The recent police crime report for 2020 shows that 4.7 per cent of the cases reported in 2020 were a result of child-related offences, with 9,225 cases of children/juveniles as direct targets/victims of crime, compared to 10,596 cases reported in 2019

Other cases     
In 2016, Times Ssemakula was arrested by police at Old Kampala Police Station on charges of sacrificing his own two children. A case vide SD38/23/10/2016 was entered in the police station book.

In 2008, Businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi was convicted for the murder and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Masaka High Court Judge Justice Mike Chibita found Kajubi guilty of murdering 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye in October 2008.

Businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi (right) consults with his lawyer during the hearing of his appeal case at the Supreme Court early this year. PHOTO/JULIE KIGONGO

Prosecution told court that Kajubi committed the crime on October 27, 2008 when he hired witchdoctors Umar Kateregga and his wife Mariam Nabukeera to kill Kasirye, a pupil of Kayugi Primary School in Mukungwe Sub-county in Masaka District, for ritual purposes. According to the prosecution, Kajubi cut off Kasirye’s head and genitals and disappeared with them to be used in his real estate businesses in Kampala, Jinja and Masaka.

In April, police in Kiboga arrested parents of a three-year-old child following the killing of the juvenile in a suspected child-sacrifice ritual.
Preliminary investigations indicated that the child had left home to play with the neighbours’ children.

The police sniffer dog led detectives to the first scene where the clothes of the missing child were recovered soaked in blood.
Also recovered at the same place was a body part suspected to be a lower lip chin of the victim.

The sniffer dog further led the detectives to another scene at Kanoga swamp where a mutilated body of the victim was recovered.
Other body parts of the child had been cut off from the deceased’s body by the assailants and were visibly missing.

Source: Father kills own children for cash

The scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria

Two months ago I posted on this site a cry from Nigeria, ‘Let the carnage of ritual killings stop‘. Unrelenting, the editors of the Leadership, a leading Nigerian newspaper, again draw attention to the alarming rate of ritual murders and related crimes in the country. I have repeatedly done the same on this place.

This site is entirely devoted to the crime of ritual murders, based on superstition and belief in witchcraft, fed by an insatiable greed for power, wealth or a good health, and facilitated by a weak enforcement of the rule of law, impunity, and in the worst cases, the connivance of people in high places who are put in this position by the people they are supposed to protect. Ritual murders are a flagrant and intolerable violation of the human rights of the victims, whereas a sovereign state is obliged, often by its constitution, to protect its citizens.

It is sheer impossible to report and react here on all ritual murders and other money-ritual related crimes which are surfacing and are being reported and published in various newspapers. It goes without saying that an unknown number of ritual murders are never discovered.

In the past six months I have collected numerous articles on ritual murders in at least 15 Nigerian states: Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers (which I have not yet been published on this site), although I have reported frequently on money-ritual related crimes in these states (from 2018 onwards). Moreover, I reported various cases of ritual murders and related crimes in other states: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasawara, Niger, Taraba. Hence, altogether, 26 out of Nigeria’s 36 states. When consulting the general folder ‘Nigeria’ the reader will find other articles, of a more general nature, on the scourge of ritual killing in Nigeria, the Yahoo boys, mob justice, and other atrocities.

The seemingly recent rise of ritual killings in Nigeria has been mentioned here earlier. I only wish to refer to a 2014 article which I published in December last year. In it it was alleged that ritual killings were everywhere in Nigeria. Older reports of ritual murders as far back as 2001 can be found here.

It must be emphasized, however, that nowadays an increasing number of Nigerian raise their voices against these outdated and revolting practices which are ritualistic murders (see the folder ‘Nigeria voices’), among whom the editors of the Leadership newspaper, who are to be commended for the article below (webmaster FVDK).

The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

Published: May 10, 2021
By: Leadership, Nigeria – Monday Column

Iniobong Umoren was a young woman in her early 20’s who lived in Uyo the Akwa Ibom State capital. She shared, on Twitter, her need for a job, and one Twitter user named Uduak Akpan asked her for a private chat concerning her application. According to police reports, Mr Akpan asked Ms Umoren to meet her at a particular location in Uyo.

When the unsuspecting lady got there, the sinister man raped her, killed her, and buried her in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for the serial rapist and murderer, the lady gave her friend the phone number of the person who invited her for an interview. This number led to the apprehension of the culprit after the lady was declared missing for days.

There were reports that Ms Umoren’s gruesome murder was not just a case of rape and murder but that it also involved ritual killing. Mr Akpan’s entire family is  said to be involved in the barbaric business of ritual killings.

Two weeks ago, a report indicated that in Kwara State, a next-door neighbour allegedly murdered a groom-to-be for ritual purposes. According to the account in Vanguard, the deceased, who was said to be a devout Christian, did not know that his neighbour with whom he used to eat together was a serial killer and ritualist who has twice served jail terms. This wolf-in-sheep-clothing neighbour allegedly killed his victim, removed some sensitive body parts, poured acid on his remains for speedy decay to prevent it from fouling the area.

Last February in Port Harcourt, a suspected ritual killer was arrested while attempting to sacrifice a nine-year-old girl in the Ibaa community in  Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State. According to a report in Punch newspapers, the girl’s parents had raised the alarm over her sudden disappearance after she went to dispose of refuse in a nearby bush. It happened that the suspect had taken the minor to an abandoned compound, tied her with white cloths, applied white clay on her body with a coffin already stationed for the ritual purpose. He was in the process of performing the ritual when he ran out of luck.

In 2019, Port Harcourt made international headlines in ritual killings with the case of Gracious David-West, Nigeria’s most celebrated ritual killer in recent times. From July to September 2019, David-West killed at least 15 women, mainly in the Rivers State capital city. After his arrest, he confessed to at least 15 murders.

Official statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Some are found, while others are not. There is speculation that majority of those who disappear perpetually without a trace are often victims of ritual killings.

Incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria. There seems to be little or no effort by concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend. We expect that such cruel and barbaric act would no longer exist in our society given our level of exposure, enlightenment, and civilisation . Ironically, as our communities seem to be getting more religious given the proliferation of churches and mosques in all nooks and crannies of the country, it seems these heinous acts are increasing as the quest for filthy lucre pervades our society.

It is disheartening to point out that as developed societies invest in science and technology to keep abreast with a dynamic world, ours are still stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection.

No doubt, ritual killings are performed to obtain human body parts for rituals, potions, and charms. Ritualists search for ‘human parts’ at the request of herbalists, who require these to make sacrifices or prepare various magical potions to give power and wealth to an individual. Some people engage in ritual killings to obtain charms that would make them invincible and protect them from business failure, illness, accidents, and spiritual attacks. Whether they succeed or not is open to debate. However, it is not easy to prove a link between such sacrifices and financial success or any type of success empirically.

Amongst a large group of Nigerians, including the well-educated and people from different faiths and social backgrounds, there is a strong belief in the supernatural and the effectiveness of rituals. This belief has a direct correlation to the prevalence of ritual killings. It is a well-known fact that some elite  in society indulge in ritual killings. Some people apprehended for ritual killings, and witch doctors who perform the sacrifices accused politicians, government officials and wealthy businessmen  as their  sponsors. They are said to use human beings for rituals to sustain their affluence and remain in positions of power.

Therefore, it is not surprising that there are usually  increased cases of mysterious disappearances and ritual killings during elections. Some desperate, fetish and superstitious politicians always consult herbalists and native doctors during elections to help them overcome their opponents. These spiritualists usually demand human heads and other body parts to perform hedonistic rituals.

Given the rate of increase of ritual killings, no one is immune from becoming a victim. But some people are at greater risk. People with mental illnesses and virgins are unique targets as the ritualists allegedly believe that their eccentrics and purity make for a more viable sacrifice. Also, people living with albinism have equally become victims of ritual killings, fuelled by the belief that their ‘body-parts’ could allegedly make one wealthy or prolong one’s life.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the mind of the ritual killer. How can someone take another person’s life in the quest for wealth, protection, and power? More worrisome is that sometimes it is not just an issue of a depraved mind but also a depraved group of minds.

Sometime in 2017, Lagos State, the country’s commercial hub, was gripped by Badoo ritual killings. According to news reports, over 50 people were killed by a Badoo Boys group, who moved about with an air of invincibility until the Nigerian Police routed them.

The Vanguard newspaper reported about the activities of the group thus: “Before the raid and subsequent arrest of over 200 suspected members of the cult group by the Police with the support of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, OPC local vigilante and the Neighbourhood Watch Corps, Badoo Boys had been unleashing an orgy of killings, during which they crush the skulls of their victims. Their modus operandi included storming victims’ residences while they are asleep”.

People suspected that they usually hypnotize their victims, as none of them had ever been conscious of their presence. After that, they would smash the heads of their victims with a grinding stone and use a handkerchief to clean the blood and brain before leaving the scene.

During interrogation, one of the suspects confirmed that “they sold each handkerchief stained with blood for N500,000. He further revealed that they were mere errand boys for rich politicians within and outside Lagos state. But in their case, the blood and semen-stained handkerchief were used to prepare the spiritual defence for  some wealthy Nigerians.”

What are the root causes of ritual killings? How can society tackle this menace? What role should the government and relevant agencies play in ameliorating the negative impact of these dastardly acts?

Poverty and economic hardship in the land are reasons for ritual killings. However, these are not justifiable reasons to commit ritual murder.  Impunity encourages ritualists to commit murders because they believe they will not be apprehended or punished.

Another reason for ritual murders is the collapse in our moral values, ignorance and superstition, and lack of an adequate punishment system. We should also consider poverty and unemployment as a significant risk factor. If Nigerians have equal opportunities to earn income legitimately, there will be a reduction in horrific crimes such as banditry, human killings for ritual, and terrorism.

Besides, the inordinate quest and pursuit of quick wealth are said to be driving some people to resort to the use of human parts for rituals. And some usual suspects include fake clerics and herbalists who carry out the ritual practices for their clients.

Some analysts have recommended that government should investigate suspected pastors and imams and checkmate their activities because what they do under cover of being religious leaders sometimes leaves much to be desired.

o curb the increase in ritual killings, the government should thoroughly explore the intelligence-gathering approach and prosecute arrested culprits. Timely arrest and prosecution of arrested suspects would serve as a deterrent to anybody contemplating perpetrating ritual killing. Record of successful prosecution of ritualist  is not in the public domain. When there are not consequences for deviant behavior , it is incentivized.

For the public, commuters should always write down the identification markings of public conveyance vehicles they enter and make phone calls to loved ones to pass on the information. In the case of Iniobong Umoren mentioned earlier, the fact that she confided in her friend about the phone number of the person that invited her for an interview was instrumental in apprehending the culprit.

Most ritual murderers always wish to be unidentified.  They want to kill people but do not wish to be apprehended. Once information about them has been exposed to someone else, it becomes difficult for them to remain anonymous and perpetrate evil.

Commuters should also assess public transport vehicles before boarding in order not to board vehicles occupied by hoodlums. I advise ladies to carry whistles on them to raise the alarm if there is an attempt to abduct them.

In addition to these, people should avoid staying in isolated areas where criminals can quickly attack without being noticed, and everybody should be conscious of their immediate environment.

The spate of ritual  killings has become so problematic that our political leaders should declare a national emergency on the crises.  I call for stiffer jail sentences to deter potential perpetrators from engaging in ritual killings. Citizens should have trust and confidence to motivate them towards providing credible intelligence for security operators.

We should also make good use of whistleblowers. These are invisible law-abiding citizens whose primary function is to disseminate information that provides details towards the arrest of suspected ritual murderers. They should be anonymous, and the law-enforcement institution should not reveal them as their link persons.

The fight against ritual killings and other menaces in our society is for all. We should not rest until we create a culture where we always uphold the sanctity of life at all cost and the safety of everyone is guaranteed irrespective of social status, religion, or ethnic background. This task calls for authentic leadership. We must swim or sink together . Our only option is to swim to survive the social disaster we are becoming as a nation because of the collapse of morality, ethics, and law.

RELATED: Ritual Killing: Let The Carnage Stop

Source: The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

NB: This article was also published, under the same title, in ‘Premium Times’, signed by Dakuku Peterside. It is not clear which article is the original one. I apologize to the original author in case I haven’t attributed the article to the right author. (webmaster FVDK)
Source: The Scourge of Ritual Killings In Nigeria, By Dakuku Peterside

Ghana: lynching of 90-year-old woman suspected of witchcraft (2020 article)

Recently, Ghana was shocked by the Kasoa ritual murder case. It’s not common knowledge that ritual murders are no exception in Ghanaian society. Also belief in witchcraft is widespread in this West African country which nevertheless has a very positive reputation as one of Africa’s most advanced countries, rapidly developing.

Yesterday I posted a general article on sorcery and the belief in witchcraft and I announced a heartbreaking, breathtaking incident which occurred in Ghana last year. 

The lynching of Akua Denteh, a 90-year old woman in the Savannah region, in central Ghana, who was accused of being a witch caused national-wide outrage. It happened at Kafaba near Salaga in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah region, on July 23, 2020. After a local priestess, Sherina Mohammed alias Alhajia Filina (40), had accused the nonagenarian of witchcraft, a mob attacked the old, frail woman. Two women slapped, kicked and caned her with a whip, the horror was filmed by by-standers who did not intervene to stop the insane and atrocious cruelty which led to the death of this mother of nine children. The horror-movie was widespread on social media, but I find the video too gruesome and repulsive to show here.  

The lynching of Madam Akua Denteh was not a unique incident, however. On more occasions I have reported on the cruel treatment of children and adult people who are being accused of witchcraft. See my postings dated April 14, 2020, Ghana: women accused of witchcraft find refuge in outpost run by sisters, and November 30 of the same year, Ghana Pentecostals come to the defense of accused witches as well as ‘AfriKids: Ghana’s haven for ‘spirit’ children marked for murder‘ (June 23, 2018).  

In 2018, an investigation by the famous journalist and film maker Anas Aremeyaw Anas resulted in worldwide attention for the plight of so-called ‘spirit children’. Anas investigated the murder of Ghanaian children who were accused to be possessed by evil spirits. See my June 4, 2018 posting Spirit Child: Ritual Killings in Ghana. It feels wry knowing that reportedly already in 2013 Ghanaians put a ban on the killing of ‘spirit children‘.

And now, in 2020, the cruel and inhumane treatment of people – mostly women and children but also men are occasionally targeted – accused of witchcraft has resulted in yet another innocent victim of superstition. Will it end here? 

The police acted swiftly and apprehended the priestess as well as the culprits who tortured and murdered Akua Denteh. However, the recent Kasoa murder case shows that superstition has far from vanished from Ghanaian society. The war against superstition, belief in witchcraft and ritualistic killings is far from over.
(webmaster FVDK)

Lynching of 90-year-old Ghanaian woman suspected of witchcraft scars national conscience

Published: July 28, 2020
By: Face2Face – Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

A 90-year-old Ghanaian woman in the north of the country was lynched to death last week by a mob who had been convinced that frail and diminutive Akua Denteh was a witch.

According to local sources, Denteh was accused by a popular traditional priestess in the Savannah region of the country, who traced the misery and misfortune of a few people as well as the community to the nonagenarian. This followed a long-held suspicion by some youth in the community.

The ensuing mob justice after the priestess’ confirmation was as swift as it was merciless.

A viral video of the lynching shows a small crowd that had circled the helpless old woman as she sat in the dirt. In the middle of the circle, those who were perhaps more incensed with Denteh’s alleged witchery – two visibly irate women in particular – beat her up, one of them, with a whip.

The video is only forty-five seconds long and does not include footage of what has been reported as the commitment of more people to beat Denteh up. But since the video came to light and drew the response of the police, many of the onlookers as well as those seen assaulting the old woman, have reportedly fled into hiding.

Ghana‘s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has called the incident a “tragic act” that has “disfigured” the country’s image. A former head of state Jerry Rawlings has also called for a quick resolution to a “cruel and barbaric lynching”.

Social media platforms too, Facebook and Twitter specifically, have been awash with statements from individuals and organizations condemning Denteh’s murder. But perhaps, the sentiments of civil society, however well-intentioned, are at best, anodynic and polite.

2015 Global Attitudes Survey by the Pew Research Center found that about 90% of Ghanaians described themselves as religious, belonging to the Christianity, Islam, variants of the Eastern religions or traditional African faiths. But the belief in witchcraft, not argued by the Pew survey, is very rife regardless of one’s faith.

The pervasiveness of belief in witchcraft in Ghana can be seen through the popularity of the biggest movies produced by the country’s hugely-successful Kumawood (Kumasi Hollywood) industry. Since the 1980s too, Ghana has witnessed the astronomic proliferation of evangelical churches that market themselves as “solution centers” to spiritual problems.

Some of these churches are referred to as prayer camps where people are supposed to be delivered of demonic possessions. Apart from churches, some animistic believers in northern Ghana, not far from where Denteh was murdered, have witch camps, where older women are held on accusations of witchcraft, sometimes until their death.

The most famous of these camps, the Gambaga witch camp, has been studied by social scientists across the world.

However, much in the fashion of the Comtean sociological perspective, many educated Ghanaians seem to think that belief in witchcraft and hardcore spirituality is in the nature of the uneducated poor.

With what is already known about Ghanaian society, the lynching of Denteh seems like the ugly manifestation of serious neglected underlying tensions.

Source: Lynching of 90-year-old Ghanaian woman suspected of witchcraft scars national conscience

Related article:

90-year-old woman accused of witchcraft lynched at Kafaba near Salaga
    

The police have mounted a search for one Tanko and his accomplices who allegedly masterminded the lynching of a 90-year-old woman at Kafaba near Salaga in the Savannah Region on the accusation that she was a witch.

The incident happened on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in the East Gonja Municipality.

The old woman whose body has since been deposited at the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) mortuary has been identified as Akua Denteh.

The Savannah Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Mr Enoch Adutwum Bediako told Graphic Online that some more police officers have been detailed to the area to effect the arrest of the suspects who subjected the victim to severe beatings which led to her death.

What happened?

DCOP Bediako told Graphic Online that at about 4pm on Thursday, July 23, 2020, Mahama Salami aged 60 years of Mempeasem, a suburb of Salaga reported to the police that he had received information at 11 am from his sister, Mahama Memuna that his mother, Akua Denteh aged 90 had been accused of being a witch.

This was because a certain fetish priest in the area had said so.

DCOP Bediako said based on that the old woman was subjected to severe beatings by Tanko and his accomplices until she became unconscious and died.

He said when the matter was reported to the Salaga Police they proceeded to the scene at Kafaba, which is about 21 kilometres from Salaga and saw the lifeless body of the victim.

He said an inspection conducted on the body of the victim revealed a cut on the forehead and bruises on the right arm.

After processing the scene as part of investigations, the body was sent to the TTH mortuary for preservation.

DCOP Bediako said the police are on the heels of those who perpetrated the act for the law to deal with them.

The issue of witchcraft allegations, especially against old women are widespread in the northern part of Ghana.

Source: 90-year-old woman accused of witchcraft lynched at Kafaba near Salaga

Related article: suspects grabbed

Kafaba ‘Witch’ Killer Grabbed After Trying To Escape To Yeji

KILLED! Akua Denteh, The 90-year-old woman being assaulted by the suspects, GRABBED! Latifah Bumaye

Published: August 1, 2020
By: Modern Ghana – 

A key suspect in the lynching of Akua Denteh, a 90-year-old woman, over allegation of witchcraft at Kafaba in the Gonja East Municipality of the Savannah Region, has been grabbed by the police after she tried to escape from the area.

Latifah Bumaye, believed to be an associate of the ringleader, Hajia Filipina, was picked up at Kejewu Bator, a fishing community under the Abrumase Police within the Salaga Division at East Gonja, while going to Yeji. 

According to police sources, they heard about the hideout of the suspect and dispatched detectives to Kejewu Bator where she was picked up and escorted back to the Salaga Divisional Command. 

DAILY GUIDE understands that she is being processed to be sent to the Regional Police Command in Damongo for further action. 

The suspect is believed to be one of the two ladies seen in the viral video lynching the 90-year-old woman because they claimed she was a witch. 

She is believed to be the woman in the video menacingly whipping the old lady with a long whip which she brandished. Meanwhile, the chief suspect, Filipina, is yet to be apprehended. 

More Suspects

Five people, who are believed to have participated in the lynching which has since sparked national outrage, have been remanded in police custody by a district court at Bole. 

They pleaded not guilty and the court, presided over by Andrew Prince Cudjoe, remanded them until August 20. 

The suspects – Haruna Aness, 34; Issaka Tanko, 35; Shaibu Murtala, 29; Sulemana Ali, 35; and Issaka Sachebu, 32, have been charged with conspiracy and murder. 

The Chief of Kafaba, Seidu Yahaya, under whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, has also been granted police inquiry bail. 

The police placed a GH¢2,000 reward for anybody that would help in the arrest of the suspects; and yesterday, a benevolent individual placed a GH¢5,000 reward for anybody who could assist the police to arrest Filipina.

Source: Kafaba ‘Witch’ Killer Grabbed After Trying To Escape To Yeji

Another article:

Kafaba: Bole District Court Remands Woman ‘Killer’

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

The accused person was provisionally charged with murder. 

The case prosecutor, chief inspector Abdulai B. Awuni, pleaded with the court to remand the accused person for further investigation. 

The judge granted the request of the police prosecutor and demanded the accused be remanded into police custody to reappear in court on August 20, 2020. 

The charge was read and explained to the accused person but her plea was not taken. 

More Suspects

Five people, who are believed to have participated in the lynching which has since sparked national outrage, have been remanded in police custody by a district court at Bole. 

They pleaded not guilty and the court, presided over by Andrew Prince Cudjoe, remanded them until August 20. 

The suspects – Haruna Aness, 34; Issaka Tanko, 35; Shaibu Murtala, 29; Sulemana Ali, 35; and Issaka Sachebu, 32, have been charged with conspiracy and murder. 

The Chief of Kafaba, Seidu Yahaya, under whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, has also been granted police inquiry bail. 

The police placed a GH¢2,000 reward for anybody that would help in the arrest of the suspects; and yesterday, a benevolent individual placed a GH¢5,000 reward for anybody who could assist the police to arrest Filipina. 

Madam Akua Denteh was lynched at Kafaba in the East Gonja Municipality in the Savannah Region. 

The woman was openly beaten to death by Hajia Filipina,the soothsayer with support from a mob in the community. 

The main suspect, Hajia Filipina, as at the time of filing this report was still on the run.

Source: Kafaba: Bole District Court Remands Woman ‘Killer’

More articles:

Kafaba Killing: Woman ‘Killer’ To Face Court Today

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

One of the key suspects in the lynching of 90-year-old Akua Denteh at Kafaba will be arraigned today, August 3.

Latifah Bumaye was arrested last week at Kejewu Bator, a fishing community along the Volta lake. 

She was seen in a viral video continuously hitting the deceased with an object. 

The deceased, Akua Denteh a fortnight ago was tortured after she was accused of being a witch. 

The Savannah Regional Police earlier arrested five persons who are also linked to the incident. 

They have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and have been remanded in police custody to reappear before the court on August 20. 

Speaking to Citi News, Savannah Regional Police Commander, DCOP Enoch Adutwum Bediako said investigations are still ongoing. 

“She was arrested on Monday at Kejewu, a small community along the Volta lake. All she keeps saying is that she doesn’t know what was happening to her. Our investigations are still ongoing but we will put her before court today to seek remand as investigations continue. She has not been able to tell us where the priestess (another suspect) is.” 

Five suspects charged with conspiracy to commit murder

Earlier, five suspects arrested by the Police in connection with the lynching of Akua Denteh have been formally charged with conspiracy to commit murder. 

They are however currently on remand in police custody after making their first appearance in court on Thursday, July 30. 

Kafaba chief granted bail

Meanwhile, the Kafaba chief, Zackaria Yahaya who was earlier arrested has been granted bail. 

According to the police, the five other suspects in their statements indicated that the chief did not play any role in the development as he even asked them to send the priestess away when they went to introduce her to him before the lynching incident. 

“The youth did not agree with the chief and went on to do what they did and this unfortunate thing happened… All the five said the chief didn’t agree with what they were doing and therefore he was not part of what they were doing. Based on that, we have to grant the chief bail pending further investigations…He spent the night there because we got the suspects the following day,” DCOP Bediako said.

Source: Kafaba Killing: Woman ‘Killer’ To Face Court Today

Another:

Kafaba Lynching: I Was Possessed – Woman ‘Killer’ Reveals In Court

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

A key suspect in the lynching of Akua Denteh, a 90-year-old woman at Kafaba in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region, over allegation of witchcraft, has spoken for the first time since her arrest last Friday.

Latifa Bumaye, 33, claimed she was ‘possessed’ and did not realize she was participating in the lynching of Akua Denteh. 

She claimed she went to wash her clothes at the river bank with her sister when the spirit entered her, adding “I saw the incident on television and I wondered if I was really the one who tortured her like that.” 

Besides, she claimed that the woman who had passed on is her grandmother, a position rejected by the family of Akua Denteh. 

Latifah believed to be an associate of the ringleader, Hajia Filipina, was picked up at Kejewu Bator, a fishing community under Abrumase Police Station within the Salaga Division in the East Gonja, whilst going to Yeji on Friday. 

She is believed to be the woman in the video menacingly whipping the old lady with a long whip. Meanwhile, the chief suspect, Hajia Filipina, is yet to be apprehended. 

According to sources, Latifa is expected to be sent to the Regional Police Command in Damongo to be processed for court on Monday. 

More Suspects

Five people, who are believed to have participated in the lynching which has since sparked national outrage, have been remanded in police custody by a district court at Bole. 

They pleaded not guilty and the court, presided over by Andrew Prince Cudjoe, remanded them until August 20. 

The suspects – Haruna Aness, 34; Issaka Tanko, 35; Shaibu Murtala, 29; Sulemana Ali, 35; and Issaka Sachebu, 32, – have been charged with conspiracy and murder. 

The Chief of Kafaba, Seidu Yahaya, under whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, had also been granted police inquiry bail. 

The police placed a GH¢2,000 reward for anybody that would help in the arrest of the suspects and also a benevolent individual placed a GH¢5,000 reward for anybody who could assist the police to arrest Filipina. 

According to police sources, they heard about the hideout of the suspect and dispatched detectives to Kejewu Bator where she was picked up and escorted back to the Salaga Divisional Command. 

DAILY GUIDE understands that she is being processed to be sent to the Regional Police Command in Damongo for further action.

Source: Kafaba Lynching: I Was Possessed – Woman ‘Killer’ Reveals In Court

To conclude:

Police arrest priestess in Kafaba lynching of 90-year-old

Published: August 4, 2020
By: Ghana News Agency (GNA)

Accra, Aug. 4, GNA – The Ghana Police Tuesday said they have arrested the fetish priestess who allegedly accused Madam Akua Denteh of Kafaba, in the Savannah Region, of witchcraft, resulting in the lynching of the 90-year-old.

Superintendent Sheilla Kessie Abayie-Buckman, Director, Police Public Affairs Directorate, said Sherina Mohammed alias Alhajia Filina, 40, was arrested on Monday, August 3, 2020, at her hide-out at Yeji.

Superintendent Abayie-Buckman on the Ghana Police Facebook platform said, the suspect was, consequently, in Police custody assisting with investigations.

Hajia Filina is said to be among some other persons identified as Sanjo, Teacher Aliu, Bumaye, Ashley and Manafo, who allegedly beat the nonagenarian on Thursday, July 23, resulting in her unconsciousness and death later.

They have already arrested five more persons who allegedly admitted to having invited the priestess to Kafaba where the incident occurred.

They are Haruna Aness – 34, Issifa Tanko- 35, Shaibu Muntala – 29, Sulemana Ali -35 and Issifa Zakyibo -32.

Their action has attracted nationwide condemnation and calls for swift justice and punishment of the perpetrators.

The police in the Savannah Region initially arrested the chief of Kafaba, Zackaria Yahaya, for his alleged role in the incident.

They have been arrested to face prosecution.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who described the action as “barbaric” also called for action and justice to be served.

A few days after the incident, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, dispatched homicide experts to the Savannah Region to hunt for the murderers.

The IGP also placed a GH¢ 2,000.00 bounty on their heads, adding that any person with credible information should either contact the Savannah Police or call 0275000156.

Sanjo was said to have hosted Hajia Filina, the priestess who declared the victim, a witch.

Source: Police arrest priestess in Kafaba lynching of 90-year-old

And:

High priestess involved in murder of 90-year-old woman to appear in court on August 5

The priestess (soothsayer), Sherina Mohammed alias Alhajia, aged 40, was arrested at her hideout at Yeji in the Bono East region by police in Salaga.

Published: August 5, 2020 (Last Updated on August 9, 2020)
By: MyGH.Online

The Savannah Regional police command says the Priestess (Soothsayer), in the Kafaba murder case, will appear in court on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

This was after Sherina Mohammed alias Alhajia, aged 40, was arrested at her hideout at Yeji in the Bono East region by police in Salaga.

Her arrest brings the number of suspects in police custody to seven with the exception of the Kafaba chief, Zackaria Yahaya who is currently on bail.

JoyNews’ Isaac Nonya who has been following the incident reports that the police had earlier sent the suspect to Salaga to be interrogated before being brought to Damongo.

According to sources, the alleged priestess had also admitted being the one in the video which went viral.

On July 23, 90-year-old, Akua Denteh was seen being slapped, kicked and caned after the traditional priestess accused her of being a witch.

The severe beating the woman was subjected to by her accuser and two other women resulted in her death.

After the video went viral, there was massive outrage with many demanding the immediate arrest and prosecution of all the perpetrators.

From the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, to various civil society groups, the security services have been urged to fish out the culprits who went into hiding after the act.

On Monday, the first key suspect in the lynching was arrested and remanded by the Bole Magistrate Court. 

Latifa Bumaye, 25, was smoked out of her hideout at Kejewu Botor a suburb of the East Gonja Municipality, following continuous surveillance by the Homicide Unit of the Ghana Police Service.

Source: High priestess involved in murder of 90-year-old woman to appear in court on August 5

Last but not least, two related articles:

Kafaba killing: Son Shares Unfulfilled Wish Of Murdered 90-Year-Old Woman

Published: August 1, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

The last son of the 90 year-old woman who was beaten to death at Kafaba has shared her last unfulfilled wish saying “My mother’s last wish was to see my children before she will pass away.”

Mr Mahama Saaka, who is 36-years-old and teacher at Salaga T.I Ahmadiyya Senior High School, who recounted this, said he was yet to have a child and unfortunately his mother had to die this way without seeing his children. 

He recounted this when the Ghana News Agency (GNA) visited the family of the murdered old woman at Salaga in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region to gauge their mood after the sad incident. 

Madam Akua Mariama Denteh, 90 years-old, was on Thursday, July 23, beaten to death at Kafaba by some residents and a spiritualist, who accused her of witchcraft and behind certain strange happenings in the area including; limiting the progress of the town. 

Madam Denteh had nine children, and three died leaving two males and four females, a number of them as teachers and 21 grandchildren. 

The spiritualist was brought to the town by some youth of the area to fish out alleged witches in the area, working against the progress of the town. 

The spiritualist mentioned Madam Denteh as a witch, which she denied but her denial was not accepted and was subjected to beatings. 

The incident was captured on video, and had since gone viral on social media. 

The deceased has since been buried.

So far, the Police arrested Yenufunu Yahaya Seidu (V), a Chief at Kafaba, who had been granted police enquiry bail, and six others in connection with the incident. 

The incident has attracted condemnation from civil society organisations, politicians, gender and human rights activists across the country. 

GNA gathered that, when Madam Denteh was beaten and succumbed to the torture, the spiritualist identified 17 other women in the area as being witches and some of them were also subjected to beatings whilst others, who were connected to powerful people in the area, were spared from beatings. 

Mr Saaka said “It had been my greatest desire to fulfil my mother’s wish but I’m shattered now, I don’t know what to do.” 

He told the GNA that “Since the incident happened and I took my Mum to the morgue, I have not been myself, I’m sick internally, I can’t even cry. She wanted to see my children before she will pass. That is the promise she gave to me, but the unfortunate incident has crushed everything.” 

He said “I don’t believe that my own community; they will do this thing. I’m very, very surprised because I grew up there. We are very sad. We don’t know what to do.” 

He called for justice to be served “So that my Mum will be used as an example to protect all other elderly women.” 

Mr Mahama Sallam, 60 year-old third child and surviving first son of the deceased, said what happened was unacceptable, attributing it to ignorance saying “We leave everything in the hands of God.” 

GNA also visited the spot, where the old woman was beaten at Kafaba, and it was a compound of a house, whose owner had since fled the town. 

The road from Salaga to Kafaba is in a deplorable state and it takes about an hour and a half to reach Kafaba from Salaga using a four-wheeled vehicle. 

There is no Police Post at Kafaba, which presupposes that unless a good Samaritan in the town intervenes, any unlawful act could be meted out to any citizen in the area. 

Yenufunu Yahaya Seidu (V), a Chief at Kafaba, who was arrested and granted bail in connection with the incident, told the GNA at Kafaba that some youth of the area informed him of their decision to invite the spiritualist to fish out witches in the area to ensure the progress of the town. 

He said lawless acts in the area could be prevented, if there was a Police Station in the area and appealed for one in the area to ensure law and order.

Source: Kafaba killing: Son Shares Unfulfilled Wish Of Murdered 90-Year-Old Woman

And hail to the journalist who first reported on the lynching of 90-year old Akua Denteh:

Kafaba Killing Reportage Has Boosted My Popularity – TV3 Journalist

Christopher Mensah Amoako was the first journalist who reported on the gruesome lynching of the 90-year old Akua Denteh. 

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

TV3’s Savannah Regional correspondent Christopher Mensah Amoako has opened up on how he became the only journalist in the country to have first reported on the gruesome Kafaba killing, indicating the reportage has soared his popularity in the region.

Speaking on ‘Talk To Solomon’ (a YouTube based talk show) hosted by journalist and writer Solomon Mensah, Mr. Amoako said: “On that fateful Thursday, July 23, 2020, I was on my way to East Gonja [in the Savannah Region] when I had a video sent to me via WhatsApp. When I downloaded it, I heard them speak both Gonja and Twi so I realised the tape could not be an imported one from any other African country.” 

Christopher Amoako said, he did further checks to ascertain the authenticity of the video and after rigorous background checks confirmed it was not fake. 

“I quickly called the one who sent me the video not to share with anyone. Then, after about two hours, I also had a call from the son of the deceased telling me about the incident,” he noted. 

The Savannah Regional correspondent for the Media General group revealed that he first “harboured fear in breaking the news. But now, that fear has long gone. Today, everywhere I pass, I get people pointing fingers at me that, ‘that’s the journalist who first broke the news to the nation’”. 

Christopher Amoako said he together with the people of the Savannah Region and the nation as a whole look forward to a swift justice served by the law courts on the murder. 

A 90-year old woman Akua Denteh was lynched on July 23 by a section of the Kafaba community after a soothsayer pronounced her a witch. 

The Savannah Regional Police Command has since apprehended some suspects including 32-year old Latifa Bumaye believed to have played a key role in the lynching. 

Find below Christopher’s full interview:

To watch and listen the interview, click here and scroll down the page. Picture is a screenshot.