Last week, the author of the article ‘Enough with muti killings‘ referred to above, Eric Naki, who is the Political Editor of The Citizen, a South African online newspaper, wrote a feature article reflecting his personal concern over the ritual killing of women and children for muti purposes in the Limpopo area of the country. His article, published with the shocking heading ‘Muti murders: ‘Genitals only work if cut from live victims’, was presented as ‘Shocking details of ‘muti’ murders‘ on May 21.
Naki’s feature article did not lead to any action of the authorities. For this reason he wrote a follow-up to his article, ‘Enough with muti killings‘.
Because of its message and Naki’s cry to stop the carnage based on superstition I consider it extremely important to promote a distribution as wide as possible of his article. All forces should be joined to help ending muti killings.
I cannot present the entire article here because only subscribers have access to it, but I am including a reference to it, hoping that it may encourage readers to take the necessary steps to gain acces to the article.
Let the muti murders stop! (webmaster FVDK)
Enough with muti killings
Published: May 27, 2021 By: The Citizen, South Africa – Eric Naki
The ritual killing of women and children in Limpopo needs a joint effort by police, citizens, government, traditional leaders and neighbouring SADC nations.
Unfortunately, Namibians are familiar with the crime of ritual murder, notably in the Mukwe area, as the article indicates. (webmaster FVDK).
Headless ‘muti’ murder in Kavango
Published: January 5, 2005 By: The Namibian – Petros Kuteeue
POLICE have not ruled out the possibility of a “muti killing” in the gruesome murder of a 79-year-old woman whose head was found floating on the Kavango River on Sunday.
The head was found at Shadikongoro village near Mukwe, about 180 kilometres east of Rundu. The culprits have not yet been arrested and the police are still searching for the rest of the body.
Law enforcement officers now fear that ritual killers, who terrorised villagers in the Mukwe area in the recent past, might be rearing their ugly heads again.
“We have had experience of such things happening in Namibia, particularly in the northern part of the country, where people were murdered and their bodies chopped into pieces,” said Warrant Officer James Matengu of the Police’s Public Relations Division.
Matengu was, however, quick to point out that the Police could not at this stage speculate on the motive of the killing, as the investigation is still underway.
Villagers at Shadikongoro have identified the deceased but, according to Matengu, her name cannot be released, as the next of kin have not yet been informed.
Contrary to a Namibia Press Agency report that the murdered woman went missing from Shadikongoro village on Christmas Day, the police stated that the woman had in fact disappeared on New Year’s Eve, on her way home after watching a religious film at a local church.
When fellow parishioners went to her home the next day to wish her well for the New Year, she was nowhere to be found.
The following day her head was discovered floating on the river.
Last year, several muti-related attacks were reported in the Mukwe constituency, including the discovery of body parts belonging to an elderly woman, which were found in a plastic bag hanging from a tree at Bagani.
Also in 2004, a 42-year-old Zambian national was lucky to escape with his life at Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi Region when his private parts were severely mutilated by three men who allegedly tried to harvest his genitals for ritual purposes.
The story presented below is not about ritual killing, or muti murders, as these crimes based on superstition and witchcraft are called in Southern Africa. It’s about the violent death of children including muti murder, however.
As stated in the article below, “According to official figures, around 1,000 children are murdered every year in South Africa, nearly three a day. But that statistic, horrific as it may be, may be an undercount.”.
The same applies for muti murders. The muti cases known are just the top of the iceberg.
For this reason I have decided to include the following article which was originally published by Associated Press (webmaster FVDK).
In South Africa, child homicides show violence ‘entrenched’
Published: December 22, 2020 By: KSAT.com / Associated Press – Gerald Imray And Bram Janssen
CAPE TOWN – At night, Amanda Zitho worries her little boy is shivering and cold in his coffin and yearns to take him a blanket. She knows Wandi’s dead and gone and it’s senseless, but that doesn’t stop the ache.
Wandi was 5 when he was killed in April, allegedly strangled with a rope by a Johannesburg neighbor — another dead child in a land where there are too many.
According to official figures, around 1,000 children are murdered every year in South Africa, nearly three a day. But that statistic, horrific as it is, may be an undercount.
Shanaaz Mathews thinks many more children are victims of homicides that are not investigated properly, not prosecuted or completely missed by authorities. The official figures are “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mathews, the director of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town and probably the country’s leading expert on child homicides.
In a country where more than 50 people are murdered every day, children are not special and are not spared.
“Violence has become entrenched” in the psyche of South Africa, Mathews said.
“How do we break that cycle?” she asked.
In 2014, she embarked on a research project to uncover the real extent of those child deaths. She did it by getting forensic pathologists to put the dead bodies of hundreds of newborn babies, infants, toddlers and teenagers on examination tables to determine exactly how they died.
Child death reviews are common in developed countries but had never been done in South Africa before Mathews’ project. As she feared, the findings were grim.
Over a year, the pathologists examined the corpses of 711 children at two mortuaries in Cape Town and Durban and concluded that more than 15% of them died as a result of homicides. For context, Britain’s official child death review last year found 1% of its child deaths were homicides. Mathews’ research showed homicide was the second most common cause of death for children in those two precincts.
“And the numbers are not going down,” she said. “If anything, they are going up.”
There are two patterns in South Africa. Teenagers are being swallowed up in the country’s desperately high rate of violent street crime. But also, large numbers of young children aged 5 and under are victims of deadly violence meted out not by an offender with a gun or a knife on a street corner, but by mothers and fathers, relatives and friends, in kitchens and living rooms, around dinner tables and in front of TVs.
Fatal child abuse is where the justice system often fails and cases are “falling through the cracks,” Mathews said.
There was, she says, the case of a 9-month-old child who had seizures after being dropped off at day care. Though rushed to the hospital, the child died.
Doctors found severe head injuries and told the mother to go to the police, but no one followed up. The mother never reported the death. When investigators tried to revive the case nearly two years later, the baby had long been buried and the evidence was cold.
Joan van Niekerk, a child protection expert, recounts numerous cases tainted by police ineptitude and corruption.
“I sometimes go through stages when I am more angry with the system than I am with the perpetrators and that’s not good,” she said. She said justice for children in South Africa is unacceptably “hard to achieve.”
And failures of justice sometimes lead to more deaths.
The neighbor originally charged with killing Wandi Zitho was released and the case provisionally dropped because the police didn’t deliver enough evidence, possibly because of a backlog in analyzing forensic evidence, according to one policeman working the case. Months later, the woman was arrested again and charged with murdering two other children.
Then there was the case of Tazne van Wyk.
Tazne was 8 when her body was found in February dumped in a drain near a highway nearly two weeks after she disappeared. She had been abducted, raped and murdered, police said.
Tazne’s parents blame the correctional system for paroling the man charged with their daughter’s murder despite a history of violent offenses against children. He’d already violated his parole once. They also fault police for failing to act on a tip that might have saved Tazne in the hours after her disappearance.
The case was high profile. The Minister of Police spoke at Tazne’s funeral and admitted errors. “We have failed this child,” he conceded, pointing at Tazne’s small white coffin, trimmed in gold. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the van Wyk home and promised meaningful action.
Nine months later, Tazne’s parents feel it was all lip service.
“How many children after Tazne have already passed away? Have been kidnapped? Have been murdered? Still nothing is happening,” said her mother, Carmen van Wyk.
She sheds no tears. Instead, anger bubbles inside her and her community. Houses connected with the suspect and members of his family were set on fire in the wake of Tazne’s killing.
It’s not just on the police to stop the abuse, said Marc Hardwick, who was a policeman for 15 years, 10 of them as a detective in a child protection unit.
He recalls one case, from 20 years ago. A 6-year-old girl was beaten to death by her father because she was watching cartoons and, distracted as any 6-year-old would be, wasn’t listening to him.
When they arrested the father and took him away — he was later sentenced to life in prison — the victim’s 9-year-old cousin approached Hardwick and said: “I think you stopped my bad dreams today.”
Clearly, children in that household had been living a nightmare, and the other adults had remained silent, said Hardwick: “The reality is that child abuse is not a topic people want to talk about.”
On November 22, Blessing Mandabva, from Zimbabwe, shared with us his view on the history of human sacrifices as well as present-day practices of this age-old ritual. His contribution was published in The Standard, a Zimbabwean Sunday newspaper. Recently, I posted other articles with African voices protesting against this phenomenon of ritualistic murders, commonly called muti murders in Southern Africa. See the Op-Ed article in the online Namibian newspaper New Era Live, entitled: ‘Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind’, posted on October 27, 2020 and an older article, dating from 2011, ‘Africa: Breaking the silence in ritual killings‘, written by Fanuel Hadzizi, also from Zimbabwe and posted on November 14, 2020.
The recent turmoil in Zimbabwe, following the death of a 7-year old boy, Tawire Makore, who was murdered for muti purposes, clearly shows that the gruesome practice of human sacrifices has not disappeared. See my October 26 posting on this ritual murder that shocked Zimbabwe.
As Blessing Mandabva describes, more people have raised their voices against muti murders including Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) president George Kandiero who distanced his association and all members from all acts of ritual killings. George Kandieo, who also mentioned the ritual murder of Tawire Makore, confirmed what I have stated repeatedly on these pages: “These ritual killings are just a tip of the iceberg (…)“.
Also the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has denounced ritually-motivated killings and issued the following statement: “The ZHRC has noted with concern the alarming rise and high frequency of ritually-motivated killings in Zimbabwe, specifically targeted at children and young people.”
What else can I add?? Read the following contribution and join the struggle against ritualistic murders and other acts based on superstition and motivated by the greed for power and/or wealth.
Warning: the following article contains graphic details of ritual murders (webmaster FVDK).
Human sacrifices, myth or reallity?
Published: November 22, 2020 By: The Standard, Zimbabwe – Blessing Mandabva
Since time immemorial, human beings the world over have pursued answers to the puzzling questions of their origins, sickness, death and after death, poverty, power, the meaning of natural phenomena such as earthquakes, diseases and accidents, among others. They have also inquired on how to protect themselves from such mysterious events. Invention of personified deities, gods and the occult sciences, witchcraft, divination and soothsaying in order to seek the protection of supernatural powers has been the order of the day. Individuals used them for protection from their enemies, to dominate others in societies be it in business, politics, churches and other religious circles to gain power and to accumulate wealth. Human sacrifice has been a phenomenon which has been passed from generation to generation albeit it appearing in various forms.
Human sacrifice is defined as the ritualised, devotedly motivated killing of human beings. It is a fundamental which is not endorsed by any state, but was once practiced by societies across the globe in the past. In this landlocked country of Zimbabwe, there is a misconception on many deaths of humans, children, women and albinos being attributed to human sacrificial rituals which are said to bring quick wealth and fortunes. Human sacrifice, especially of children, occurs frequently despite the government’s efforts to stop it. Times are tough in Zimbabwe, and people are looking for sacrifices to improve their fortunes. Hunger and starvation coupled with the purported economic meltdown which has been attributed to the economic sanctions by the ruling elite whilst those in the opposition blame the ruling elite for poor governance.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) president George Kandiero distanced his association and all members from all heinous acts of ritual killings.
He, however, said those ritual killings are mainly done by witches and witchdoctors. According to Kandiero, Zinatha has some specialists who could have been involved in the case of Tapiwa Makore to give guidance in finding a lasting solution.
“It’s rather unfortunate Tapiwa is no more, but we believe the full wrath of the law will take its course. The perpetrators must be brought to book even if they are members of our associations,” said Kandiero.
”These ritual killings are just a tip of the iceberg since a lot of sacrifices in various forms are happening in the underworld.
“Those who do such are everywhere including churches, homes and workplaces and this has to be addressed for people to live in harmony.”
Reverend John Makaniko, a United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe pastor, said: “Human sacrifice is a reality though in this contemporary world it’s now rare.
“The law has abolished human sacrifice and it’s now treated as murder.” According to him, in Christianity, only Jesus Christ was sacrificed for sins of all humanity. He becomes a sacrifice once and for all [Hebrew 10:10].
“Jesus Christ becomes a sacrificial lamb for salvation of all humanity. The human sacrifice done by individuals is for selfish reasons like riches and fame. “This human sacrifice that is shedding blood of other people for selfish ends is evil, sinful and a serious crime.”
“As Christians, we are guided by the scripture’s teachings and commandments like: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Exodus 20:13) and our social principles say, ‘life is a sacred gift’; therefore, every human life should be treated with dignity and shouldn’t be sacrificed.
“In short, human sacrifice is a devilish act that has no place in Christianity and progressive society.”
Rev Makaniko added: “In contemporary society, faith in God and appreciating the dignity of hard work will result in success and prosperity.
“The core values of the United Methodist Church clearly state that, ‘we do good, do no harm and stay in love with God’; thus human sacrifice isn’t good because it brings harm to other people and breaks relationships with God.”
According to some South African media reports, body parts can be sold for as little as R3 000 in that country.
I recall vividly growing up in a township when public transport in the form of the commuter omnibuses had just been introduced. At that age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them sweets.
The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with body parts missing. Rumours were that businesspeople were taking the children’s heads to Durban and were trading them off for taxis, kombis and grinding mills. Another unfortunate case is that of Given Flint Matapure who disappeared at Harare Exhibition Park in August 2011. The case took ages to be finalised.
Ritual killings, or human sacrifices, are committed for the purpose of taking human body parts which are said to be used to prepare charms and other traditional medicines for spiritual fortification. In some instances, ritualists and occults target vulnerable members of society such as the poor, women, children and albinos whose families often do not have the resources to demand justice.
In some African countries there is a belief that female body parts possess supernatural powers that bring good fortune or make criminals invisible to police and other authorities. Children and young people are mostly preferred since they will be having a whole lot of life to live than the elderly.
All the success which could have happened to them will now be transferred to the ritualist as the children continue to live in the underworld. It is time governments turned up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights.
Heavy sentences should be given to those who commission and carry out the ritual killings.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) denounced ritually-motivated killings.
“The ZHRC has noted with concern the alarming rise and high frequency of ritually-motivated killings in Zimbabwe, specifically targeted at children and young people,” the ZHRC statement read.
“The heinous murder and mutilation of innocent people is disheartening and should be denounced in the strongest terms by our society and nation as a whole.”
ZHRC also stated that participation in ritual killings violates Sections 48 (1), the universal human right to life, of the Constitution and other sections of international agreements on rights to human life, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The rights body called for a collective effort among authorities to end the ritual killings and urged police to undergo further training to adequately deal with issues of human rights violations.
In July 2015, a four-year old pupil from St Lucy Primary School in the Kombo area of Insiza district in Matabeleland South province was found dead with her lips, liver and other body parts missing in a suspected case of ritual murder. Her body was found mutilated in a pond. The incident struck fear into villagers who indicated that they suspected the child was killed for ritual purposes. They started escorting their children to and from school.
Legislator Pupurai Togarepi has moved a motion on the proliferation of chilling incidents of murder indicating that victims of such heinous crimes are the vulnerable and unsuspecting members of society, mostly women and children.
In another bizarre suspected ritual killing in June 2020, a 25-year-old woman, Thabelo Mazolo, had her body mutilated and stashed into a drum filled with acid in Bulawayo. Part of the body, from the waist going down, was missing while breasts and palms appeared to have been sliced off. The ritualist murder had message from a sangoma with instructions to perform on the body, it reads “you must cut yourself and spill your blood onto a mirror. Gaze into the mirror and say out loud that you are selling your soul for riches.”
The practice of ritual killing and human sacrifice continues to take place in several African countries in contravention of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other human rights instruments. In this 21st century, human beings are still being hunted down, mutilated, murdered or sacrificed for ritual purposes across the region.
Several cases of kidnapping and disappearance of persons are traced to the vicious schemes and activities of ritualists. Ritualists hunt for blood and harvest human body parts to prepare charms and magical concoctions. In some cases desperate ritualists invade cemeteries and exhume dead bodies to extract body parts, said one anonymous source.
Many cases of ritual sacrifice take place in secret locations. They are largely unreported, not investigated and go unpunished. The perpetrators and their collaborators capitalise on the prevalent irrational fear of the supernatural among Africans, and the poor and corrupt policing and justice system, to get away with these egregious violations.
Victims of ritual sacrifice are mostly minors nd vulnerable individuals who do not live to seek justice or redress or who lack the resources to seek redress if ever they survive the ordeal.
Human sacrifice is real, it is neither fallacious, frivolous nor fiction. It is a cancer which needs urgent attention and collective efforts by all stakeholders from grassroots level before it is normalised by satanic and evil forces in our societies.
Is it possible to something positive in the area of ritualistic killings? Maybe yes, read the following case, reproduced below. In Limpopo province, South Africa, where ritualistic murders aka muti (muthi) murders are rampant, a court has found four people accused of ritual murder guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The Thohoyandou High Court found guilty and convicted Christinah Mhlongo (56), Solomon Mqengeni Mahumani (67) and Amos Mafemani Chuma (51) for the barbaric, gruesome ritual murder of their-in-law, Hlayisani Hlungwani (26), at Hlomela village in Giyani three years ago. A fourth convict, Daniel Dzambukeri was sentenced to life imprisonment after he pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial.
I must commend the police department, the investigators, and the court judges for their work and I am happy with the outcome of their work. I will not give my opinion on the sentences, in this case life imprisonment. Judges must work independently and objectively, one must be very prudent to comment or to interfere with their work. However, I am very positive about the fact that the rule of law has been upheld. in South Africa, notably in Limpopo Province, muti murderers terrorize the population and violate people’s human rights, notably the right to live without fear and the right to live. To prosecute and sanction perpetrators of these cruel crimes is a sacred duty of the state which has an obligation to protect its citizens. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is essential to educate people telling them that killing other people motivated by superstition as a means to become rich or famous is outrageous and not acceptable.
Warning: the article below contains graphic details (FVDK).
Relatives senctenced to life for ritual murder
Published: November 18, 2020 By: Letaba Herald
Four relatives were last Thursday each sentenced to life imprisonment for the ritual murder of their in-law at Hlomela village in Giyani three years ago.
Thohoyandou High Court found guilty and convicted Christinah Mhlongo (56), Solomon Mqengeni Mahumani (67) and Amos Mafemani Chuma (51) for the murder of Hlayisani Hlungwani (26) in Nsavula village.
The fourth convict, Daniel Dzambukeri was sentenced to life imprisonment after he pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial.
The judge found that the four accused intentionally killed Hlungwani by cutting off her lips, breasts and private parts.
The heinous crime which sent shock waves in the Hlomela and Nsavula villages was found to have been motivated by greed and the love of money. All accused pleaded not guilty and showed no remorse, the judge found.
The court heard that on 17 April 2017, Daniel Dzambukeri lured his sister-in-law to get into Chuma’s Honda Ballade in order to fetch her child from her grandmother. Dzambukeri testified that when the vehicle reached Hlomela village they drove into the bushes where Hlungwani’s legs were tied to a tree.
Later all of the accused went to the scene to perform their rituals before removing some body parts.
During the ritual, the victim’s mother-in-law, Mhlongo, burned herbs naked while calling Hlungwani ancestors to accept her spirit. Dzambukeri told the court that he had committed the crime with all three accused.
He told the court that he and Mahumani held the victim down while Chuma cut the body parts with a knife. Chuma handed the parts to Mhlongo who wrapped it in a red cloth.
The killing angered villagers who vented their anger by burning down three houses and other properties belonging to the convicts.
Other family member fled the area to other provinces. In mitigation of sentence Mhlongo asked the court not to sentence her for a murder she didn’t commit.
“There was no way I could have joined men to commit such crime,” said Mhlongo.
Mahumani and Chuma also asked the court not to sentence them, they accept no responsibility for their action.
In aggravation of sentence the state advocate, Absah Madzhuta, called the elder brother of the deceased, Richard Hlongwani who testified about the impact the killing had on her child and her grandmother.
Hlungwani further said that the family was shocked, in pain and living in fear.
The death of the deceased has affected the child of the deceased in that she failed her grade.
He said that she knows that her mother was killed by a woman and men and she is now afraid of her father and visitors.
The court remarked that the crime was barbaric, where the victim fought for her life with all her energy, screaming and kicking.
She suffered a painful death, with her body parts removed whilst still alive (italics added by the webmaster).
The body parts were destined for sale.
“Although every case is decided according to its merits, this crime is very serious. The family had to bury their loved one with some of her body parts missing. The aggravating circumstances outweigh by far the mitigating factors of the accused. This type of murder is a classical barbaric one without respecting the deceased and her right to life in terms of Section 11 of the Constitution,” remarked Justice Khami Makhafola before sentencing the convicts to life imprisonment.
The director of public prosecutions, Adv Ivy Thenga welcomed the sentence and commended the investigation team together with the state Adv Absa Madzhuta for the work well done.
Below follows the link to another article related to the same barbaric crime. The graphic details of the crime committed being so shocking I have decided not to reproduce the full text here. If readers are still interested, they may click the link below but they are warned that the contents of the article are shocking and repulsive. The article describes in full detail how the victim’s body parts were cut off while she was still alive (webmaster FVDK).
The faces of evil Published: November 20, 2020 By: Zoutnet, South Africa – Andries van Zyl
Browsing on internet I found this 2011 article written by Fanuel Hadzizi from Zimbabwe. The article could have been written in the year 2000, or much earlier, and even nowadays, in the year 2020 !
I find it encouraging reading this article on a topic which it too often swept under the carpet although its main message is a sad one. The author pleads to break the silence on ritual killings in Africa and points to several cases of ritual killings in Southern Africa to warrant his plea. He concludes “It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights.”
What else can I say? Highly recommended – read ‘AFRICA: BREAKING THE SILENCE IN RITUAL KILLINGS’ by Fanuel Hadzizi, Gender Links Justice Program Officer of PeaceWomen. Peacewomen is the Women, Peace and Security Program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.
Warning: The following article contains graphic details of ritual murders (FVDK)
Ritual killings and human sacrifice happen in many, if not all countries in Africa. Cases have been reported in such countries as Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, there have been cases whereby people’s heads were found in Asian owned shops whilst in Swaziland, some politicians commissioned ritual killings so that they could win elections. The grossness of the ritual murders is quite scary to imagine as victims’ bodies are mutilated and certain body parts go missing. Needless to mention that in South Africa for instance, body parts can be sold for as little as R3000.
On 24 September, South Africa celebrated Heritage Day under the banner “celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa.” According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the theme allowed the nation to “celebrate the lasting legacy of the national liberation struggle.”
Most importantly, Heritage Day provides an opportunity for South Africans to celebrate their cultural heritage and diversity of beliefs and traditions. As a concerned resident, I also feel that this is an opportunity for us to break the silence around the negative cultural practice of ritual killings that is prevalent in society and yet violates the basic universal human right to life.
During the course of Women’s Month in August, South Africa became the ninth Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to ratify the Protocol on Gender and Development. This brought to two thirds the number of countries that have done so, and means that the Protocol is now in force.
As we also celebrate the coming into force of this crucial instrument, let us ponder what is meant by the provision that all states adopt laws and policies to protect the girl and boy child from “harmful cultural attitudes and practices in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.”
I recall vividly growing up in one township in Zimbabwe. This was just when public transport in the form of the Toyota Hiace taxi had just been introduced in the country. At that tender age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them some sweets.
The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with some body parts missing. Rumours were that business people were taking the children’s heads for instance to Durban in South Africa and were trading them off for the taxis. Weren’t we all scared!
Ritual killings or muti killings are committed for the purpose of taking human body parts which are used to prepare charms and other traditional medicines. These charms are believed to have supernatural powers which are greatly enhanced if the organs are removed whilst the victim is still alive.
In Southern Africa there is a belief that female body parts possess supernatural powers that bring good fortune or make criminals invisible to police and other authorities. Research has shown that in other countries, especially in East Africa, the breast and a woman’s private parts enhance business success, a man’s private parts are believed to increase virility whilst a tongue can smooth one’s path to a lover’s heart.
In fact, ritual killing is perceived as an act of spiritual fortification.
In an article titled New Magic for New Times: Muti Murder in Democratic South Africa, Louise Vincent (2008) says that “the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes is based in the belief that it is possible to appropriate the life force of one person through its literal consumption by another.” The victim is thus carefully chosen.
The Sowetan reported in July this year that the brother of Gladys Mogaramedi (61) killed her for her body parts. Police discovered the badly mutilated body without the private parts. I felt a very cold chill down my spine as I read through the story with shock and disbelief. Even after reading it twice I still found myself at a loss for words, trying to comprehend how a person could execute such a diabolic act moreover to a sibling without any conscience.
The South African case highlighted above is but the tip of the iceberg to some of the cultural problems that our society is still grappling with in relation to gender based violence. More often than not, these crimes evade the spotlight because they are largely unreported or recorded merely as murder. Ritualists target vulnerable members of society such as the poor, women, children, people with disabilities and albinos whose families often do not have the resources to demand justice.
It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights. Heavy sentences should be given to those who commission as well as carry out the ritual killings. It is heartening to note that in a July 2010 ruling, the High Court of Mwanza region sentenced 50 year old Kazimiri Mashauri to death. The Tanzanian court convicted him for hacking to death a 5 year old girl for muti-related purposes.
Fanuel Hadzizi is the Gender Links Justice Program Officer of Peace Women,
Allegedly, another case of muti murder in South Africa. Muti or muthi murder is the killing of a person with the intention to use body parts for ritual purposes to enhance one’s power, prestige or wealth. Muti murders occur frequently in Southern Africa, in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and eSwatini (formerly called Swaziland).
All ritualistic killings, including muti murders, are based on superstition. Its occurrence is widespread but nobody knows the exact number of victims of these gruesome and heinous crimes. As can be seen from the picture below, it is not an imaginary phenomenon which exists only in the minds of the people. The mere suspicion of a ritualistic killing draws large crowds, expressing their indignation, their fears and their protests against these medieval practices which cannot be left unpunished (webmaster FVDK).
Muthi suspected for murder of two Orange Farm kids
The discovery of bodies of two children in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, comes just five months after another child was killed in the same area under mysterious circumstances.
The community and families believe they may have been victims of muthi killings.
Mpho Makondo, 8, and Simphiwe Mncina, 6, were found dead on Saturday morning after they went missing on Friday night.
They were smudged with a black substance on their mouths and underneath their feet while a note, which their families did not see before it was taken by police as evidence, was left on Makondo’s body. No body parts were missing.
In April, Mzwandile Zitho was found dead in what his family believed was a ritual killing at a tavern about 2km from where community members discovered Mpho and Simphiwe’s bodies.
Mpho and Simphiwe, who lived three houses from each other, were last seen walking home from a salon about 400 metres from their homes.
The two children had accompanied Mpho’s aunt, Malehlohonolo Malatji, to the salon.
Mpho’s father, Moeketsi Malatji yesterday told Sowetan how horrified he was after finding his daughter lying naked, behind a boulder.
He described the children as best friends who were always together.
“The last person who saw them was my sister. They had gone to the salon down the road with her, but she told them to go home when it was getting dark at about 6pm,” Malatji said.
“We started a search party with the community, and went into every household in our neighbourhood and we didn’t find them. We stopped looking for them at about 4am on Saturday.”
Malatji said he received a call from his daughter’s mother at about 6am telling him that they had found the children.
“I could not hold back my tears when I saw my baby’s body lying next to a big rock. She was naked, her arm was broken, she had a grimace on her face, and there was a black substance in her mouth and under (the) feet,” he said.
Their bodies were found a few hundred metres away from each other.
Simphiwe’s body was dumped in someone’s yard and the note was left on his torso. He was not wearing any top and did not have shoes on.
His aunt, Lindiwe Mojafe, said: “They were innocent children. Why would anyone do this to them? They were never in the habit of playing too far from home. It’s very strange and scary how we found them. It has left us with more questions than answers.”
A community member who found Simphiwe’s body told Sowetan that he thought it was a muthi killing.
“I was going to work and I saw a body of a small boy in my yard. I was scared because I thought that people would think that I killed him and left him there. I called the police and other community members to come and see because I didn’t want to be arrested,” the community member said.
Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said the motive for the double murder was yet to be established, while a postmortem will be conducted.
“The investigation into this double murder will be prioritised and escalated to the Provincial Investigating Unit, in line with the SAPS position to prioritise the investigation of crimes committed against women, children and other vulnerable persons,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, in the Mzwandile Zitho, 5, case earlier in the year, Pontso Mohlanka was arrested and charged for the boy’s murder but charges against her were withdrawn on August 28.
Mzwandile’s grandmother, Nompumelelo Zitho, yesterday said she did not visit the scene where the killed children were found at the weekend because it gave her flashbacks of what happened to her grandson.
“I am still trying to come to terms with it. It’s worse now because we won’t find closure. The investigating officer told me that charges were withdrawn because there wasn’t enough evidence,” Zitho said.
I’ve hesitated to include the article below on this blog – partly because of the gruesome nature of the described act, partly because of the graphic description of the treatment, obviously a form of torture, which family members inflicted upon a girl they accused of witchcraft and being responsible for the death of an uncle.
Eventually I decided to reproduce the article here and to share it with a larger audience. The reason why I choose to do so is because witchcraft lies at the bottom of their repulsive behavior. This site is focusing on superstition and everything which relates to it in a criminal way: ritualistic acts, ritual murders, ‘money rituals’ (Nigeria), muti murders (in Southern Africa), and – indeed – witchcraft. The fact that the ultimate victim, a young and innocent girl, was maltreated and tortured was another reason for drawing attention to this incident. Unfortunately, rape is a daily crime in Liberia and most perpetrators get away with their crimes. In Liberia, impunity seems to be the rule, and not the rule of law.
Therefore, again a warning: the following article contains graphic details of a form of torture (webmaster FVDK).
Liberia: Adolescent Girl Sodomized After Being Thrown Out for Witchcraft
Published: July 3, 2020 By: FrontPage Africa
MONROVIA – A girl believed in her late teens has been sexually assaulted in her anus after she was thrown out of her family in Omega Tower Community on accusation on her beingwitchcraft.
According to a source close to the family, the incident occurred on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 night when she was asleep.
The girl (name withheld) was discovered early Wednesday morning lying helpless on the main road that links Montserrado to Margibi, crying for rescue.
Some community members felt pity for her, took her from the street, gave her food and water. They at the same time called the Women and Children Division of the Liberia National Police to take the survivor to hospital for treatment.
Her current condition has left community members blaming her family for neglecting her and throwing her out of the house after alleging that she confessed killing her 25 years old uncle (name withheld) in May of this year after a brief period of illness.
A family source interviewed by this paper narrated that after the death of the uncle, the survivor and her partners were tortured and beaten badly on grounds that they are responsible for his death. This, according to the source, caused her mother and father to escape with her other siblings leaving her at the mercy of the family.
“During the night when her uncle died,” the eyewitness said, “that child was beaten by his family and a man who claimed to be a big man in the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) at which time they broke one of her legs.”
“After all the torture, they still threw her out of the house, they forgot to even take into consideration the danger it poses to her health, not only the aspect of rape.”
“I do not know why people find pleasure in accusing innocent children of the act of witchcraft when, in fact, there is no way they can prove their accusations,” the eyewitness said in pity.
The eyewitness said after the death of the survivor’s uncle the family members brought a native doctor who said that girl and her partners were responsible for his death.
“After the native doctor was brought here, the family said that the girl confessed that she and her partners killed her uncle because he means them with food,” the eyewitness said.
The eyewitness expressed deep frustration in said aptitude adding that “I do not know who the man that did such a wicked act to a child in such condition.”
According to the eyewitness, the LNP Children Division was able to take the child to the hospital.
“What we are praying for now is not just the treatment of the child but an investigation being done to bring the perpetrator to justice and even the family because they were the ones who exposed her to such danger.”
In Liberia, rape has become the order of the day with few out of many girls who have suffered such horrible acts from their male counterparts are lucky to get the needed justice.
With many perpetrators understanding that the justice system is very weak, they go ahead to sexually abused girls and walk in the street with impunity.
The murder of Thabelo Mazolo in Zimbabwe inspired Bruce Ndlovu, the author of the article reproduced below, to dwell on the phenomenon of ritualistic murders, muti or muthi murders as they are called in Southern Africa. The staggering details of recent murder cases in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are shocking. The author is to be commended for his frankness to expose and discuss these heinous crimes which have no place in the 21st century.
Warning: the following article contains many graphic details as to how these murders are committed (webmaster FVDK).
Murder economy: The business, science behind ritual killings
Published: June 21, 2020 By: Nehanda Radio – Bruce Ndlovu
“You must cut yourself and spill your blood onto a mirror,” the message to Tawana Ngwenya reportedly read. “Gaze into the mirror and say out loud that you are selling your soul for riches. After that you must open the door for my boys to go out.”
The messages, from a South African sangoma, were allegedly part of a chain of instructions to Ngwenya, messages that allegedly led him to take the life of Tawana Mazolo at Matsheumhlophe, Bulawayo.
The messages were witchcraft delivered digitally, as the unknown sangoma, from his lair somewhere in one of South Africa’s nine provinces gave Ngwenya instructions on how to spill blood and in the aftermath, prepare for a life of riches.
The details of the alleged murder are gruesome. Half of Mazolo’s body, from the waist down, was missing while her breasts and palms were cut off. On the surface, the tragic killing of Mazolo already looks like a ritual murder. The grizzly details suggest that this indeed is the case.
After all, every once in a while, the pages of publications in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries drip with the blood of innocents murdered at the altar of self-enrichment.
There was the case of Edmore Rundogo, whose dismembered remains were found in Maun, about 500km from Botswana’s second city of Francistown.
Rundogo had left his home in Lobengula West (Bulawayo) in search of a better life in Botswana. Instead of the proverbial greener pastures on the other side of the Plumtree border, he had found machete-wielding men who savagely murdered him, ripping his heart out.
The five killers also cut off his hands, feet, privates and took part of his brains. The killers, after being told by the traditional healer that had hired them that they had killed the wrong person, had then tried to burn his body.
South of the Limpopo, there was the case of 10-year-old Masego Kgomo, a schoolgirl who was still alive when Brian Mangwale ripped out her womb.
During the course of his trial for murder, Mangwale would change his story three times, a fact that the courts took as evidence that he had no remorse for his actions. In one of the three accounts he claimed that he and a group of friends had taken the young girl to a traditional healer in Soshanguve, who gave them a concoction to drink before he dragged the crying Masego into a room.
The girl was still crying when the traditional healer returned with her 10 minutes later and started sprinkling something on her body.
Mangwale claimed the medicine man had then returned with a knife and a clay pot and ordered Masego to lie down on a bed.
When she refused, she was forcibly held down while the traditional healer stabbed her in the stomach, put his hand inside her body and removed something that looked like a ball, which he put into the clay pot. He also removed her left breast.
Mangwale told the magistrate he heard the others had wrapped the child’s body in plastic and drank muthi before dumping her body in the veld on the instructions of the traditional healer.
While his testimony kept changing, the courts were convinced that Kgomo had died after meeting the nasty end of Mangwale’s knife. A life in prison sentence was handed to the killer.
Body parts are big business in Africa, but particularly in South Africa where trade in human body parts is lucrative. In the race to get rich in places like the City of Gold, Johannesburg, some believe that the key to getting their hand on all that glitters is taking a shortcut.
Many Zimbabweans, like Mazolo, can trace their gruesome ritual death to powerful sangomas south of the Limpopo. While Ngwenya was the one allegedly wielding the instrument of death when Mazolo took her last painful breath, this is not always the case.
Middle men, like in the case of Mangwale, are usually the ones that handle the dirty work. According to South African scholar Louise Vincent, certain gangs specialise in killing people for the harvesting of body parts only.
“It is believed that certain murder gangs specialise in muthi killings. Unlike human sacrifice where death is the express purpose of the act, in muthi-related killings, death is an anticipated and accepted by-product of the garnering of human organs but it is not the main aim.
Indeed, it is often preferred that the victim remain alive during the process. When body parts, including internal organs, are removed while the victim is still alive it is believed that the power of the resultant medicine will be greatly enhanced. Depending on the wants of potential customers, the instructions that the sangomas give specifics.
“Sangomas seldom do the killing themselves. The order will include not only specifications as to which particular body part or parts are required — testicles for virility purposes, fat from the breasts or abdomen for luck, tongues to smooth the path to a lover’s heart — but the very specific manner in which they are to be collected.
“The use of human body parts for medicinal purposes is based in the belief that it is possible to appropriate the life force of one person through its literal consumption by another. For this reason, a victim is often carefully chosen — not just any person’s penis as a cure for male infertility, for instance, but that of a man with several healthy children.”
Those who grew up in Zimbabwe urban areas will recall how the shadow of ritual murder has never been far off the horizon. Some, no doubt, know of the stories of businessmen who are said to have suddenly turned rich after they lost a spouse or a child. That child, or any other loved one, is assumed to be the blood sacrifice that was necessary for their businesses to turn a sudden corner.
Such perceptions of course, may be nothing but jealous rumour, but they are not helped by actual cases like that of Robert Tazvireva, a bottle store and general dealership owner in Magunje who allegedly instructed Samuel Mushonga in 2017 to murder his own sister so he could enhance his business.
After Mushonga had allegedly fatally stabbed his sister and hacked off her head, he delivered it to Tazvireva who told him to hide it in a nearby bush. Such instances, have helped convince many that businesspeople profit from the spilling of blood.
“‘If the business is not doing well, get a boy or a girl’s head — someone who has a future — and your business will have a future too,” said Dr Gordon Chavunduka time president of the Zimbabwean Traditional Healers Association, once said.
Those who grew up in Bulawayo in the late 90s will remember the myth of men who reportedly drove around the city with a blood sucking frog, looking for unsuspecting victims to profit from.
While such urban legends have never been confirmed, they are an entertaining reminder that people live on the constant lookout for people trying to profit off their ritual sacrifice.
“I recall vividly growing up in one township in Zimbabwe. This was just when public transport in the form of the Toyota Hiace taxi had just been introduced in the country,” says Fanuel Hadzidzi of Gender Links.
“At that tender age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them some sweets.
“The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with some body parts missing. Rumours were that businesspeople were taking the children’s heads for instance to Durban in South Africa and were trading them off for the taxis. Weren’t we all scared!”
With claims of human body parts sold by vendors on the streets of South Africa and other countries, it may be a long time before ritual killings lose their lustre to those trying to make a quick dollar.
A rumor is not a fact, but as soon as a mutilated body is found, suspicion of foul play arises and rumors start circulating. I would almost say, ‘in any sub-Saharan African country’. Fact or prejudice? Maybe a prejudice, but unfortunately fed by bad experiences.
This time a rumor in Zimbabwe. It wouldn’t be the first ritualistic murder in this country, where ritual murders are known as ‘muti murders’. Let’s hope that this time the rumor is a false alarm. I’ll watch and follow the news media for more information (webmaster FVDK).
Infant’s mutilated body sparks ritual killing fears
Published: June 1, 2020 By: New Zimbabwe – Tonderai Saharo
Masvingo: Residents at a suburb here have been left in shock after a dismembered corpse of an infant was found in a garden at a house, raising fears of a ritual killing.
The body of what looked like a one-month-old baby was found in the early hours of Friday morning at a house belonging to one Barauta, with its left arm and both legs missing.
Police could not ascertain the gender of the infant.
Masvingo Provincial acting police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Kudakwashe Dehwa confirmed the matter and said investigations were underway.
“We appeal to members of the public who may have information which can help us to investigate to come forward.
“Anybody can get in touch with the Officer in Charge Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Detective Inspector Muchedzi on 0775535810 or visit any nearest police station. You can also call or App the police on 0775996945,” said Dehwa.
According to the police, the mother of the deceased child has not been identified.
Incidentally, a Chiredzi women recently lost her newly born baby, soon after being discharged from hospital, to a woman who had offered assistance in carrying the new-born.