Kenya: outrage over ritual murder of 8 year-old girl in Murang’a

Another ritual murder case in Kenya. At least, all indications point to this cruel, senseless crime motivated by greed and based on superstition.
Warning: the following stories contain graphic details of the murder of a young child (webmaster FVDK).

Murang’a: Girl, 8, found dumped with missing body parts hours after she disappeared

Published: March 2, 2021
By: Standard, Kenya – Ndungu Gachane 

Shock has engulfed Kayu village in Kangema, Murang’a after a body of an eight-year-old girl was discovered badly mutilated and some body parts missing in what is believed to be a ritual killing.

According to the locals, the minor, Hannah Wambui went missing on Monday evening at around 7.30 pm. At the time, Wambui was at their shop located in their home compound and a search was immediately launched.

Kangema Subcounty Police Commander John Ogolla said they had arrested a 34-year-old neighbour of the deceased who is a casual labourer and was conducting investigations to establish whether he was involved in the murder.

Gideon Gitahi, the local Nyumba Kumi chairperson said after receiving a distress call from the deceased’s father, residents decided to move door to door in search of the little girl.

“Her mother had gone to look after a sick relative in Nairobi and so the deceased had been left under the care of her father. The girl went missing while the father was preparing supper in the main house,” said Gitahi.

He added that after conducting a search, the villagers found one of the deceased’s socks at the main suspect’s bedside and the police were promptly called. 

Even after the police arrested the culprit, locals continued with their search mission for the whole night.

The long search came to an end after one of the neighbours who was involved in the search stepped on the body which had been dumped at a tea plantation. 

Stephen Mwangi said the body had its private parts removed and skinned from the chest to the stomach. 

“I could not look at the body twice, I made a distress call and when people came, they confirmed that it was the missing girl,” Mwangi said. 

Mwangi joined his neighbours in alluding that the girl died of a cult activity but they also suspected that she could have been defiled before being killed. 

“Her clothes were found in Kianguku shopping centre but her socks were found at the bed of the main suspect leads us to conclude that he could have defiled the minor,” locals claimed. 

But it is the lack of bloodstains at the scene that baffled the locals who are yet to find any sign of bloodstains at any place in the village.

“Even if the girl was killed elsewhere and the body transferred to the scene, we could have seen bloodstains, and again the private parts were missing,” Gitahi said. 

The deceased was a Standard One pupil at Rwathia Primary School and was the firstborn in a family of two.

Source: Murang’a: Girl, 8, found dumped with missing body parts hours after she disappeared

Related article:

Outrage over ritual-like murder of 8 year-old girl in Murang’a

Entrance to a Kenya police station

Published: March 2, 2021
By: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation – Sylvia Ombuya/ Wambui Mwangi

Police in Murang’a County have launched investigations into the mysterious murder of an 8 year-old girl.

The badly mutilated body of Hannah Wambui was discovered shortly after she went missing on Monday evening

According to residents of Kayu village in Kangema Constituency , the minor went missing on Monday evening at around 7:30 pm at their shop located in their home compound when the search ensued. 

According to area Nyumba Kumi Initiative chairperson Gideon Gitahi, residents decided to conduct a door to door search for the girl after receiving a distress call from the deceased father. 

“Her mother had gone to look after a sick relative in Nairobi and so the deceased had been left under the care of her father. When the father was preparing supper, the girl was in their shop located in their homestead. After conducting a search from door to door, we found one sock at the bed of the main suspect and we called the police, it was around 10pm,” Gitahi said. 

Even after the police arrested the culprit, locals continued with their search mission overnight.

“Her clothes were found in Kianguku shopping centre but her socks were found at the bed of the main suspect leading us to conclude that he could have defiled the minor,” locals claimed. 

One of the neighbors who was on his way to answer the distress call stumbled on the body which had been dumped at a tea plantation bringing to an end the long search. 

According to Stephen Mwangi, the body had its private parts removed and skinned from the chest to the stomach in what has triggered fears that the murder could have been a ritual killing.

“I could not look at the body twice, I also made a distress call and people came and confirmed that it was the missing girl,” Mwangi said. 

The deceased was a Standard One pupil at Rwathia Primary School and was the first born in a family of two.

Source: Outrage over ritual-like murder of 8 year-old girl in Murang’a

And:

Missing 8-Year Old Girl Found Brutally Murdered

Published: March 2, 2021
By: Kenyans – Lilian Wamathai       

The body of an eight-year-old who went missing last night (Monday) was on Tuesday, March 2 found in Kayu Village, Murang’a county. The girl was brutally murdered and dumped at a tea plantation

Hannah Wambui was a grade one pupil at Rwathia Primary school went missing on March 1, 2021. According to residents, she had been left in the care of her father after her mother left for Nairobi to care for a sick relative.

She reportedly went missing at 7:30 pm at their shop in the homestead while her father was making supper. The father called the local Nyumba Kumi Chair, Gideon Gitahi who called for an immediate door-to-door search.

“Her mother had gone to look after a sick relative in Nairobi and so the deceased had been left under the care of her father. The girl went missing while the father was preparing supper in the main house,” stated Gitahi.

One of the members of the search party raised an alarm after finding one of the girls’ socks in a man’s house.

“Her clothes were found in Kianguku shopping center but her socks were found at the bed of the main suspect leading us to conclude that he could have defiled the minor,” the locals reported.

However, police are also pursuing the angle of a ritual killing as the girl’s private parts had been removed.

The man was arrested but the search went on until one neighbor stepped on the body of the girl in a tea plantation.

“I could not look at the body twice, I made a distress call and when people came, they confirmed that it was the missing girl,” said Mwangi who has found the body.

There were no bloodstains at the scene where she was found which led the locals to believe that the act must have been propagated elsewhere.

“Even if the girl was killed elsewhere and the body transferred to the scene, we could have seen bloodstains, and again the private parts were missing,” added Gitahi.

Kangema Subcounty Police Commander John Ogolla said they arrested the 34-year-old man in whose house a sock was found and investigations are underway to unravel the murder.

Source: Missing 8-Year Old Girl Found Brutally Murdered

Ghana: women accused of witchcraft find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Ghana has a fairly good reputation, both on the African continent and beyond. This positive reputation mainly applies to the state of the economy and the country’s political affairs. (This has not always been the case. Notably in the 1970s Ghana offered a very different outlook. It is thanks to flight-lieutenant-turned-president Jerry J. Rawlings – and the two Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI), World Bank and the IMF – that Ghana nowadays is what it is).
However, superstition is rampant in the country. I drew attention to it at earlier occasions. See my posting on the work of Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Seamus Mirodan, both fighting infanticide in Ghana as well as Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria (June 4, 2018), and the activities of Seth Kwame Boateng and Jospeh Asakibeem (June 23, 2018), also fighting ritual baby killing in this West African country.

The article below treats the fate of women who are accused of witchcraft, sometimes triggered by jealousy and criminal intentions, sometimes based on superstition and a belief in the supernatural powers which the victims of the repression and mob justice are supposed to possess. Fortunately, the women are being rescued  by a group of benevolent nuns, but shouldn’t it be better if these age-old practices and belief in witchcraft cease to exist? (webmaster FVDK).

Women accused of witchcraft in Ghana find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Vivian Salamatu, outside her house, relates how she escaped death from angry villagers who had accused her of killing her brother-in-law. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Published: April 13, 2020
By: Global Sisters report – Doreen Ajiambo

GUSHEGU, GHANA — Vivian Salamatu and 200 hundred other women here are bound together for life. They share each other’s misfortunes and all have a similar story. They were accused of witchcraft, beaten, cast out and sent to “witch camps” that serve as havens.

“When my nephew died after a short illness, everyone hated me,” Salamatu explains in Dagbani, her native language. “My brothers-in-law said I was responsible, they accused me of being a witch.”

Dozens of elders and villagers gathered at her home to determine her innocence or guilt. One of the elders participating in the ritual test grabbed a chicken, slit its throat and flung it overhead. After it finished struggling, the chicken fell head first and died face down.

It was clear by the village standard she was a witch.

“If the chicken had died face up, then I would have been declared innocent of witchcraft,” said Salamatu, 39, a mother of three. “That night, villagers led by my brothers-in-law attacked me with machetes and set fire to my house. They wanted to kill me with my children.”

Her attackers, who had tied her up with a rope, were intercepted by nuns and local authorities. She was rescued with her children and taken to Gushegu “witch camp,” located in the north of the country.

One of the mud huts where women accused of practicing witchcraft live in the Gushegu camp of northern Ghana (Doreen Ajiambo)

“I can’t believe I’m alive today,” she said, noting that the allegations came barely a year after losing her husband in a road accident. “I had no one to protect me from the angry villagers. But I want to thank God and the sisters who came and rescued me. It was a miracle!”

Salamatu is among hundreds of women who have been rescued by the Missionary Sisters of the Poorest of the Poor and taken to Gushegu. The refuge, which is run by Sr. Ruphina Anosike and other sisters, provides homes to women accused of witchcraft. Anosike also cares for the homeless by providing meals and other necessities such as medical care and education for their children.

The immense majority of these women are widows with children. They have been accused by relatives, or sometimes by a competing wife, neighbors or village elders, of witchcraft, mainly of killing their husbands or other family members, said Anosike.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that these women suspected to be witches are no longer needed in their families and communities,” she said, noting that her camp, which accommodates more than 200 women, has become a safe haven for widows accused of witchcraft. “They stay here because they have no place to go, no food to eat, and no one cares for them.”

The motive to call someone a witch

Anosike notes that the chief motive behind such acts is often greed, and labeling these women as witches becomes a means of taking away their husbands’ wealth. Camp residents also include mentally ill women and children who are considered outcasts in Ghana, she said.

Salamatu agreed there is a motive.

“My father-in-law wanted to take cows, land and some money that my husband had left, and I refused,” she said, adding that her husband’s relatives became hostile to her and toward her children. “They later accused me of practicing witchcraft so that I could be chased away and leave them everything. One of my neighbors told me they held a meeting to discuss how they could chase me away so that they would be able to take my properties.”

Thousands of women and their children in northern Ghana have been left homeless after being accused of witchcraft, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. State Department. The report indicates that there are more than six witch camps spread throughout the northern region, holding 2,000-2,500 adult women and 1,000-1,200 children.

There is a widespread belief in witchcraft in the West African nation, according to 2009 Gallupsurveys, despite 96% of the population declaring themselves to be active worshippers in one of several world religions. The belief in the phenomenon has devastating consequences. Elderly women believed to be witches are often persecuted, ousted from their homes or even murdered. Their children are also cursed and not allowed to go back home after they have grown.

Though both men and women can be accused of witchcraft, the vast majority are women. Men are considered to have a strong socio-political base and are therefore better able to successfully contest the accusations leveled against them, knowledgeable observers say.

The witch camps are unique to northern Ghana. However, the West African nation shares with other African countries an endemic belief in witchcraft, with drought, death, poor harvest, illness and other natural disasters blamed on black magic.

Screenshot of the GSR video of sisters and women at the Gushegu camp in northern Ghana (credit: Doreen Ajiambo). Click on the picture in the original article (see source below) to watch the video.

The situation has prompted religious sisters in this part of the country to provide residential shelter for the women and children shunned by relatives. Anosike depends on supporters to build homes at the camp and she pleads for food, clothing, bedding and other necessities from neighbors and passers-by.

“I actually go out every morning to beg for food for these women to ensure they have something to eat,” said Anosike. “The bishop also helps us very much, especially with food and money to run the camp. These women also survive by collecting firewood, selling little bags of peanuts or working in nearby farms.”

A superstition that sticks

Witchcraft is a stubborn phenomenon in African cultures, experts say. Witches and wizards are thought to possess intrinsic and supernatural powers that are used to create evil. Many seek out the services of witchdoctors and wizards to find solutions for their relationships, troubles and even for good health. However, the practice has for years also had its negative side. In worst-case scenarios, such beliefs lead to murder and destruction of the accused witches, they said.

“The belief in witchcraft is deeply entrenched in Africa culture and dictates people’s lives,” said Charles Nzioka, a professor of sociology at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. “Witchcraft is in people’s minds. If someone loses a job, Westerners assume that it’s due to economic conditions or poor performance. An African is likely to say that someone used witchcraft to make or confuse an employer to hate and sack the person concerned.”

Nzioka said that the belief in witchcraft in Africa is intended to keep order in society; any deviation in behavior may lead to an allegation. As in Ghana, women who do not want to conform to society’s expectations may fall victim to the accusations of witchcraft, he said.

“For instance, when a woman accumulates wealth and becomes independent, she deviates from local norms that recognize only men to own wealth, and as such she becomes a target,” said Nzioka. “Sometimes women are targeted by relatives of the husbands in order to inherit their son’s wealth.”

Nato Blenjuo, who has lived at Gushegu camp for the last two decades, explained how she escaped death by a whisker after villagers claimed she had used witchcraft to kill her ailing husband. A post-mortem was reportedly held, establishing that her husband died of malaria, she said. Malaria has continued to be the leading cause of death in the country, according to 2018 data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“They really wanted to kill me,” said the 66-year-old widow who lives in one of the huts made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow’s urine. “My stepson led other irate villagers with machetes to attack me at night. They set my house on fire, but I was lucky to escape with my three children into a nearby bush and I made my way to this camp.”

Srs. Ruphina Anosike, left, and Monica Yahaya, second from right, help sort out the grains that had been swept from the market by women accused of witchcraft in Ghana. These women survive by collecting firewood, selling little bags of peanuts or working in nearby farms. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Sr. Monica Yahaya said that women are seen as the most vulnerable members of the population and are therefore often labeled as witches because of their inability to contest the accusations. This explains why there are no men at the camps and women are predominantly the victims, she said.

“The problem here is that relatives cannot allow widows to inherit their husband’s possessions,” said Yahaya, who works with Anosike at Gushegu camp. “They will definitely look for a reason to accuse them and then send them away from their homes in order to take properties left by their dead husbands. Without a husband, these women really have no way to defend themselves after such an accusation.”

Osei Ekow, an elder, denies that greed is the impetus behind calling someone a witch. He says the villagers rely on the traditional slain chicken ritual to determine whether a woman is a witch.

“That’s our culture, and we must respect it,” said Ekow, 75, who says he has witnessed tens of thousands of widows being sent away from their homes. “There’s no way that ritual can be wrong. These women taking refuge at the camps are all witches because it was culturally confirmed.”

The government has on several occasions tried in vain to close down the camps in a bid to discourage attacks on women. Officials contend the very existence of witch camps encourages people to levy allegations of witchcraft knowing that the women they accuse will find refuge at the camps.

“People should stop accusing and harassing innocent women of witchcraft,” said Issah Mahmudu, a government official who oversees the Legal Aid Department in northern Ghana. “We want to encourage suspected witches and wizards who have been harassed to report to the police so that investigations begin. The law protects every citizen.”

Mahmudu said the incidents of witchcraft accusations have recently declined but encouraged local chiefs to dispel outdated cultural practices that are injurious to others.

“These women are vulnerable, that’s the reason they are attacked,” he said. “The chiefs should arrest any person committing offenses that are recognized under the law. The laws of this country condemn dehumanizing the fundamental human rights of all citizens.”

Anosike and other sisters are trying to shape the way people think about witchcraft. They conduct weekly seminars in various villages to campaign against ongoing violence on women, educate the public about the myths that surround witchcraft, rehabilitate and reintegrate women into their homes, and call for an end to the persecution of alleged witches and to superstition.

“Cases of women being chased away from their homes have of late been reduced as a result of the ongoing campaign, but more needs to be done,” she said. “We are going to continue educating people in the villages to ensure women live freely without fear of their rights being abused due to the belief in witchcraft.”

However, victims of the attacks call for more to be done.

“I have never been a witch, I don’t know how witchcraft works,” said Salamatu. “Men should treat us with dignity because we are all human beings created in the image of God.”

A child stands outside her mother’s hut house at Gushegu camp. Her mother was accused of killing her husband. (Doreen Ajiambo)

Source: Women accused of witchcraft in Ghana find refuge in outpost run by sisters

Districts in Northern Ghana (in the northeast: Gushiegu District)

Kenya: secret cult linked to priest’s murder

Kenya – A string of ritualistic killings led to 86 people – among whom politicians and religious leaders – being questioned by detectives of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on suspicion of involvement in the occult underworld. The DCI notably alleges that slain priest Father Michael Maingi’s murder was linked to cult activities. A suspect was arrested.

Warning: the articles below contain graphic details and may shock readers (webmaster FVDK).

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives on Thursday, October 24 discovered more shocking details on the murder of Father Michael Maingi.

Published: October 25, 2019
By: AGESA ALIGULA

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday, October 24 reported that slain priest Father Michael Maingi’s murder was linked to cult activities.

The detectives arrested 46-year-old Kavivya Mwangangi at Kategi, Mbeere Embu County on Thursday, October 24 and found out the scary details of the murder.

DCI, through their Twitter, stated that Father Maingi’s murder was the subject of investigations with the possibility of illuminati involvement.

Police are investigating the murder of Reverend Michael Maingi Kyengo who went missing on Tuesday, October 8

“The detectives are further investigating the possibility of the murder by the said suspect and his accomplice Michael Mutunga, being connected to a cult which Mutunga is suspected to be part of, after a filled application form by him to join illuminatiam cult in September 2018 was recovered from Mwangangi’s rented house,” the tweet read.

The detectives also found blood-stained clothes at the suspect’s house. They also discovered a mobile phone and a SIM card reported to have received money from the late priest before he was killed.

A notebook bearing a list of names and phone numbers of probable members of the secret society was also retrieved from the house. 

Mwangangi was taken into custody to assist with further investigations into the murder of the priest who was found buried in a shallow grave in Machakos on Tuesday, October 15.

Father Michael was last seen driving on Tuesday, October 8 at Kaewa Location, Matungulu prompting fellow priests to report him missing to the police.

His was found buried in a shallow grave along the Mashamba River in Makima location, Mbeere South. Another suspect; 25-year-old Michael Muthini Mutunga who was accused of kidnapping the priest, killing him and burying his body at the said place, was placed in lawful custody.

Detectives drawn from the Special Crimes Unit stated that one of the suspects led the police to the scene on Tuesday. 

According to the police, 43-year-old Kyengo was kidnapped on October 7. The kidnappers slit his throat and cut his body before burying him

The suspected killers then stole Kyengo’s vehicle and drove to Malindi where they withdrew part of the priest’s money.

A notebook found by DCI at one of the suspect’s house on Thursday, October 24 with a list of names and phone numbers of potential members of the cult.

Source: Secret Cult Linked to Priest’s Murder- DCI

Related articles:

Puzzle as Missing Catholic Priest Found Dead and Buried

Published: October 16, 2019
By: COLLINS OSANYA

Police and local residents on the banks of Mashamba River in Makima location Embu County where Father Michael Kyengo’s body was buried in a shallow grave on October 16, 2019. 

Police are yet to conclude why and how a Catholic priest from Machakos Diocese was kidnapped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

Reverend Michael Maingi Kyengo was last seen driving on Tuesday, October 8 at Kaewa Location, Matungulu. 

However, the priest did not return to his Thatha Parish, prompting fellow priests to report him missing to the police.

Police are investigating the murder of Reverend Michael Maingi Kyengo who went missing on Tuesday, October 8

The body of Father Kyengo was found buried in a shallow grave along the Mashamba River in Makima location, Mbeere South. One suspect; 25-year-old Michael Muthini Mutunga who is suspected to have kidnapped the priest, killed and buried his body at the said place, is in lawful custody.

Detectives drawn from the Special Crimes Unit stated that one of the suspects led the police to the scene on Tuesday. 

According to the police, 43-year-old Kyengo was kidnapped on October 7. The kidnappers slit his throat and cut his body before burying him

The suspected killers then stole Kyengo’s vehicle and drove to Malindi where they withdrew part of the priest’s money. 

Cyrus Ombati, a crime reporter told Kenyans.co.ke that police officers arrested two of the four suspects in Nairobi – Mombasa Highway in Makindu.

Police and a pathologist were at the scene of the crime when the body was exhumed from the banks of Gathingiri River. 

However, detectives are yet to establish why the kidnappers murdered Kyengo.

Head of Special Crimes Prevention Unit Pius Gitari mentioned that investigators were following crucial leads on the whereabouts of the missing suspects.

Two suspects were arrested on Monday, October 14 on the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway in connection to the murder of Reverend Michael Maingi Kyengo. The priest was buried on the banks of a river.

Source: Puzzle as Missing Catholic Priest Found Dead and Buried

and

Priest’s Tragic Death Exposes Homosexual Affair With Boyfriend

Published: October 19, 2019
By: DAVID KINGSLEY

Machakos Catholic priest Father Michael Kyengo whose body was found buried in Embu. 

The gruesome murder of Machakos Catholic priest, Father Michael Maingi Kyengo, has blown the lid off his relationship with a 25-year-old nursery school trained teacher.

A report byThe Standard indicated that the cleric exchanged romantic messages with the man who is now being probed over his murder. 

According to the police, the two often referred to each other as ‘my dear’ and ‘my love’ which proves that Kyengo and the man might have been in a relationship.

Residents watch the exhumation of the body of murdered priest Father Michael Kyengo.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that authorities were considering a second round of examination to confirm if the deceased had intercourse before his death.

On Thursday, October 17, officers from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit (SPCU) travelled to Gaitegi village in Embu County where they confirmed that Kyengo was killed inside a rented house belonging to the suspect. 

The knife which was allegedly used to commit the heinous act was recovered in a pit latrine in the suspect’s home.

Villagers who spoke to the publication on condition of anonymity revealed that Kyengo and the suspect have known each other since 2008 when they met at a seminary. 

A motorbike operator who drove the priest’s vehicle from Embu to Malindi on the night of October 9 is being considered as a state witness.

Police claim that the suspect asked the boda boda rider to drive him to Malindi since he did not have a driving license despite knowing how to drive.

The mutilated body of Father Michael Kyengo.

Source: Priest’s Tragic Death Exposes Homosexual Affair With Boyfriend

And:

Police Raise Alert on ‘Young Blud Saints’ Cult Recruiting University Students

Published: May 18, 2018
By: MARTIN SIELE

The National Police Service (NPS) has issued an alert on a new cult allegedly recruiting university students in Kenya.

The group is known as Young Blud Saints and is said to have a growing presence in universities within Nairobi.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), members of the group believe in three gods; true god, false god and random god.

Random god, they believe, is the one who fails them as he is not firm with decisions and does not offer straight answers.

Police further claimed that members of the cult are expected to sacrifice what they love the most to prove their loyalty to the organization.

Police called on the public to stay vigilant and asked parents to ensure their children are not recruited into what they termed ‘evil organizations’.

They were also asked to seek psychological guidance from professional counsellors and religious institutions if they noticed strange behaviour from their children.

The DCI disclosed that they were closely monitoring the group’s activities.

A number of Kenyans came out to question the alert as they argued that Freedom of Worship is enshrined in the constitution.

“But there is freedom of worship in Kenya so I don’t know why you people feel that some religions are not right while yours is right,” one wrote in response.

Source: Police Raise Alert on ‘Young Blud Saints’ Cult Recruiting University Students

Kenya: DCI goes after pastors in ritual killings probe

DCI Headquarters along Kiambu Road, Nairobi

Published: October 31, 2019
By: EMMANUEL GITHUKU

Several religious leaders are among 86 people under scrutiny by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over their involvement in the occult underworld.

These details were brought to light by DCI boss George Kinoti who warned about rising cases of cultism, particularly in Nairobi, Embu, Kitui, and Kericho.

Kinoti made this pronouncement citing evidence uncovered following investigations into a string of killings. 

According to a report by The StandardUniversity students were among the groups increasingly falling prey to the allure of the glamorous lifestyle portrayed by the shadowy organisations.

Director of Criminal investigations George Kinoti in his office at DCI headquarters during an interview. On Wednesday, October 30, he revealed that university students were the major target for the cults.

The clerics questioned by the police after their names were found in a book seized from a suspect who confessed to killing a Catholic priest as a sacrifice in an occult ritual.

The sleuths revealed that the book contained names of people from all walks of life,  politicians, business owners, and even civil servants.

Detectives claimed that the named persons were being presumed to either be members of the group or potential recruits.

The reports by the Mombasa road-based publication further stated that 22 of the 86 persons on the list had been questioned at the Kitui Police Station and denied any knowledge of the cult.

Those already questioned included 14 businessmen, four deacons, county employees, teachers, and farmers.

“They have denied, but we believe they know more. We are still on the case,” stated a senior officer aware of the probe that The Standard spoke to.

Detectives also added that some of the individuals on the list could not be reached, but they were being sought after.

The book was seized from Kavinya Mwangangi who was arrested last week at Gategi in Embu after he confessed to being a member of Illuminati Official Clun based in Sandton City, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Police added that Mwangangi provided details of the cult’s website and offered log-in credentials into a site that helped detectives retrieve an application filled in by one Michael Muthini Mutunga.

The priest’s killing was among about 10 cult-related killings that have been reported in the past six months.

Kavinya Mwangangi and Simon Mutava before Milamani Law court where they confessed killing Catholic priest Michael Maingi. The DCI on Wednesday, October 30 revealed that they were questioning individuals on Mwangangi’s list in connection to cultism.

Source: DCI Goes After Pastors in Ritual Killings Probe

Related article: 

Clerics and politicians among 86 suspects in ritual killings probe

Published: October 31, 2019
By: Cyrus Ombati

Religious leaders are among 86 people being questioned by police on suspicion of involvement in the occult underworld.

This emerged as Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti (pictured) warned about rising cases of cultism, particularly in Nairobi, Embu, Kitui, and Kericho, citing evidence uncovered following investigations into a string of killings. 

University students are among the groups increasingly falling prey to the allure of the glamorous lifestyle portrayed by the shadowy organisations.

Police have in the past warned against a group called the Young Blud Saints, which targets university students in Nairobi. 

In the latest investigation, clerics are among those being questioned by the police after their names were found in a book seized from a suspect who confessed to killing a Catholic priest as a sacrifice in an occult ritual.

The suspect claimed to have killed Father Michael Kyengo with the motive of enriching himself. He also claimed that he is a member of the Illuminati Official Clun, which he said is based in Sandton City, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Detectives said the people whose names were found in the booklet include politicians, business owners, and civil servants. They are presumed to either be members of the group or potential recruits.

Seized booklet

But the 22 who have so far been questioned at Kitui Police Station have denied knowledge of the cult.

They include 14 businessmen, four deacons, county employees, teachers, and farmers.“They have denied, but we believe they know more. We are still on the case,” said a senior officer aware of the probe.

The Standard cannot name the suspects because they are yet to be charged.

The police said some of the people listed in the confiscated book could not be reached, but detectives are looking for them.

The book was seized from Kavinya Mwangangi who was arrested last week at Gategi in Embu. He confessed to being a member of Illuminati Official Clun so he could be wealthy.

Police said Mr Mwangangi provided details of the cult’s website and offered log-in credentials into a site that helped detectives retrieve an application filled in by Michael Muthini Mutunga.

Mwangangi led detectives to Mr Mutunga, who has been in police custody since his arrest in Makindu driving the priest’s car. The car had been repainted.

When he was arraigned in court last Friday, Mwangangi attempted to recant his confession, but the magistrate said that could only be done before a chief inspector of police.

The police were allowed to detain Mwangangi for eight days as they continue with investigations.

Meanwhile, officers have warned that a string of recent murders have been linked to cultism.

The priest’s killing was among about 10 cult-related killings that have been reported in the past six months.

Authorities say investigations have shown that the deaths were motivated members’ believing they were carrying out the wishes of occult powers or spirits.

Based on reported cases, police have concluded that parts of Nairobi, Embu, Kitui, and Kericho could be breeding grounds for cultism. 

“We have had so many deaths out of cultism. They include those where children or kin are dying because they don’t believe in conventional medicine,” Mr Kinoti said.

He said some killings remain unsolved and called for a multi-agency approach to address the issue because of its complexity and the beliefs involved.

National strategy

“Remember we are dealing with someone’s beliefs, which in most cases are wrong. That is why we need a multi-agency approach from the churches, families, friends, authorities and all others who may help,” he said.

Other officials also want the Interior ministry to come up with a well-crafted national strategy to address cultism so that it is not interpreted by some as an infringement of the target’s rights.

Police investigations have revealed instances of deep-rooted cultism, where individuals exhibit unusual characteristics or kill for promotion and body parts.

Kinoti said in Kericho, police had documented incidents where members of a cult were forced to present some human body parts so they could be allowed to join a perceived powerful cult that promises money and fame.

“Until we proscribe these groups, which remain secrets to us, we have to be proactive for now. Unfortunately, we are now dealing with killings that have happened,” he said.

“Is it poverty or other factors pushing these individuals to the cults? We should know,” he said.

Kinoti cited the death of Ferdinand Ongeri, who was the Kenya National Union of Nurses Kisumu branch deputy secretary-general, in July this year, saying their probe had led them to cultism.

Ongeri’s body was found in a forest in Nandi long after he had been reported missing. An autopsy on his body indicated he died from excessive bleeding. According to investigations, Ongeri traveled to Kitui where he met a Kenyan and two foreigners.

His body was found in the forest with his throat slit, neck broken and mouth cut.

Source: Clerics and politicians among 86 suspects in ritual killings probe

Kenya: Popular witchdoctor claims Monica Kimani’s murder might have been a ritual killing

The following article is reproduced here to illustrate that we have to be cautious when reading news and related articles on alleged ritual murders. In this respect, too many rumors circulate in too many African countries and – luckily – often they’re not true. Be that as it may, the superstition behind these rumors reveals a real problem: the real fear of ordinary people for these ritualistic killings. Hence, though – fortunately – these crimes occur less frequent than the numerous rumors suggest, the ease with which these rumors spread in African societies are a clear indication that the phenomenon of ritualistic murders has not been wiped out in these societies. Related to the foregoing is the position and role of witchdoctors in African societies, as is shown in the following murder case.
We should have this in mind when reading the article below.
PS The added articles throw a different light on the murder of Monica Kimani.
(webmaster FVDK)

Ritual killing ndio wapate power na pesa?!

Popular witchdoctor claims Monica Kimani’s murder might have been a ritual killing

Published: October 11, 2018
By: Geoffrey Mbuthia
mpasho – Contact: info@mpasho.co.ke

The late Monica Kimani

Monica Kimani’s murder has opened a can of worms into so many lives that every day one wonders what new and crazy thing will we discover? Apart from the huuuuge news that television personality Jacque Maribe and her fiancé are the prime suspects.

The prime suspects, TV celebrity Jacque Maribe and her fiancé, Joseph Irungu alias Jowie

Jacque Maribe and Joe IrunguJacque Maribe and Joseph Irungu
Now a new twist has been thrown into this whole affair with claims that her murder might have been a ritual killing. What?

A quick reminder: Monica’s lifeless body was discovered with her mouth taped shut and her hands and legs tied behind her back. Her throat had been slit open from ear to ear. Early reports indicate that she had been decapitated.

According to SDE, a witchdoctor who cleansed the mystery suspect who was with Joe on the night of the killing. Why would one be cleansed after committing a murder? Priests of old would wash themselves after offering a sacrifice. Cleansing, in this case, may speak of a ritual killing.

Monica Kimani  Was her murder a ritual killing?

The great resource that is Wikipedia, states that it is the act of killing one or more humans, usually as an offering to a deity. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease gods, spirits or the deceased.

SDE goes on to claim that:

NOW, A  MISSING SUSPECT IN THE MURDER OF MONICA IS REPORTED TO HAVE TRAVELLED TO MOMBASA TO SEEK “CLEANSING” BY A WITCH-DOCTOR.

This according to a few detectives who spoke to SDE and have travelled to Mombasa to find the mystery suspect. They say that the suspect was believed to be holding vital evidence taken from Monica’s house, including some cash, the killer weapon, house and car keys, and clothes.

Monica Kimani  The late Monica Kimani

A police affidavit claimed:

PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS HAVE ESTABLISHED THAT IRUNGU WAS SEEN IN THE COMPANY OF ANOTHER PERSON NEAR THE CRIME SCENE.

It added:

THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON SEEN WITH IRUNGU HAS YET TO BE ESTABLISHED BUT THE INVESTIGATING TEAM IS FOLLOWING LEADS.

The reason they are searching for this other mystery man is that Joe, the main suspect in the murder was in the company of another man whose identity police are searching for.

Joe Irungu  Joe Irungu in court

Surveillance cameras on the roads he used from off Denis Pritt Road, show Joe and the mystery suspect.

Source: Ritual killing ndio wapate power na pesa?! Popular witchdoctor claims Monica Kimani’s murder might have been a ritual killing

Related articles::

Did missing suspect in Monica Kimani’s murder visit witchdoctor for cleansing?

Published: October 12 (?), 2018
By: Cyrus Ombati

The late Monica Kimani (Photo: Courtesy)

The missing suspect in the murder of Monica Nyawira Kimani might have travelled to Mombasa to seek “cleansing” by a witchdoctor, police have said.

Officers said the suspect was believed to be holding vital evidence taken from Monica’s house, including some cash, the killer weapon, house and car keys, and clothes.

Monica’s body was found in her apartment at Lamuria Gardens off Denis Pritt road in Nairobi on September 20.

A team of detectives has been in Mombasa since Sunday amid claims the suspect could have gone to a witch doctor or two for “blessings”.

Sources in the team said they were pursuing good leads on the possible whereabouts of the mystery suspect in Mombasa.

Police said the suspect was believed to have been in the company of another suspect, Joseph Irungu, on the day Monica was killed.

TV journalist Jacque Maribe and her fiancé, Irungu, are set to be charged in court on Monday over the murder.

“Preliminary investigations have established that Irungu was seen in the company of another person near the crime scene,” said the police in an affidavit.

“The identity of the person seen with Irungu has yet to be established but the investigating team is following leads,” they said.

According to police, Irungu was using Maribe’s car when he was seen driving in and out of the compound of Monica’s apartment block.

Images of the car captured by surveillance cameras on the roads he used from off Denis Pritt Road to his residence in Lang’ata show the driver was in the company of another man whose identity police are searching for.

Joseph Irungu alias Jowie, one of the suspects (Photo: Courtesy)

Another team of detectives has been in Juba, South Sudan, since Sunday. Monica stayed and worked in Juba and police want to retrace her movements and activities.

The team is investigating what she carried when she left Juba for Nairobi on September 19.

They also want to know what she did for a living, her earnings and any other activities she could have engaged in.

Money theory

This is part a theory that money might have been a possible motive for Monica’s murder.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said he was still waiting for reports from the teams on the ground.

In Juba, Monica was said to have been running her family business, Milly Paul General Trading Limited, which provided cleaning services for corporates and was contracted by a number of Kenyan companies.

Separately, Irungu, who was remanded at the Industrial Area Remand Prison, spent Tuesday night at the facility’s dispensary after complaining of pain from a wound that police said they suspected was self-inflicted.

Police said they suspected that Irungu attempted to commit suicide at Maribe’s house in Royal Park estate, Lang’ata, Nairobi.

Maribe was said to have been in low spirits when police visited her yesterday at Lang’ata Women’s Prison and did not want to talk.

TV celebrity Jacque Maribe, fiancée of Joseph Irungu, is suspected of involvement in the murder of Monica Kimani (Photo: Courtesy)

According to an officer involved in the case, Maribe became a suspect under the law that states that everyone is a party to an offence who actually commits it, does anything to aid any person to commit it or abets any person in committing it.

“Where two or more persons form an intention in common to carry out an unlawful purpose and to assist each other therein and any one of them, in carrying out the common purpose, commits an offence, each of them who knew or ought to have known that the commission of the offence would be a probable consequence of carrying out the common purpose is a party to that offence,” the officer said.

“An accessory after the fact to an offence is one who, knowing that a person has been a party to the offence, receives, comforts or assists that person for the purpose of enabling that person to escape,” said the officer citing the law.

Mr Kinoti was said to have personally interrogated Maribe as part of efforts to crack the case.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said he had independently reviewed the evidence so far on record before deciding to charge Maribe and Irungu.

Source: Did missing suspect in Monica Kimani’s murder visit witchdoctor for cleansing?

Another related article:

Jowie Irungu, Monica Kimani’s killer consulted a witchdoctor after the murder

Published: October 11, 2018, refreshed 09:35
By: Tony Mukere

Details have now emerged that one of the suspected killers of Monica Kimani fled to Mombasa to seek help from a witchdoctor.

Jowie Irungu, one of the suspects

Police investigations have shown that the prime suspect Joseph ‘Jowie’ Irungu was in the company of another man on the night detectives believe he brutally murdered Monica.

His accomplice is also believed to be holding crucial evidence taken from Monica’s house, including some cash, the killer weapon (believed to be a knife), house and car keys, and clothes.

The search for the unidentified man has seen homicide detectives travel to Mombasa after learning he had travelled there to seek cleansing.

The hunt for the suspect has come at a time when the DPP has authorized murder charges against Jowie and his celebrity fiancé Jacque Maribe.

The detectives working on the case are reported to be working under pressure ahead of the start of the murder trial scheduled to start on Monday when the two suspects will record statements.

Although the publicly reported information showed Maribe as an accessory, who aided Jowie after the murder, detectives have explained that they believe she was involved before or during the murder.

Where two or more persons form an intention in common to carry out an unlawful purpose and to assist each other therein and any one of them, in carrying out the common purpose, commits an offence, each of them who knew or ought to have known that the commission of the offence would be a probable consequence of carrying out the common purpose is a party to that offence.”

An accessory after the fact to an offence is one who, knowing that a person has been a party to the offence, receives, comforts or assists that person for the purpose of enabling that person to escape,” an officer working on the case was quoted by the Standard.

Click the link in the source mentioned below to play the video (55 seconds)

Source: Jowie Irungu, Monica Kimani’s killer consulted a witchdoctor after the murder

The death of Monica Kimani has puzzled Kenya since she was found brutally murdered in her apartment. Below follow two more articles related to this murder case. Those interested in more details are advised to Google ‘Monica Kimani’s murder’ and they’ll get what they want (at least 50 articles) – FVDK. 

Another related article:

Revealed: The man who assisted Joseph Irungu to kill Monica Kimani before fleeing to Tanzania.

Published: October 19, 2018
By: Kenya Digital News

Current reports say that the identity of the man who accessed the late Monica Kimani’s
apartment with Jowie and assisted him in carrying out the heinous murder before stealing millions of shillings in foreign currencies has been identified.

His name is Jennings Olando and they are very close friends.

Trusted reports say that on the material day when Monica was killed, Jowie and
Olando were having drinks together with other friends at Road House Grill in Kilimani.

Later, the duo excused themselves around 9 pm saying that they were going for a job
elsewhere.

They later resurfaced at the same club around 2 am.

Detectives are looking for Olando who is believed to have fled to Tanzania.

It has also been reported that a day after Monica Kimani was killed, Olando went to Eastleigh where he exchanged over $4,000 to Kenya shillings and then travelled to Mombasa.

After arriving in the beautiful city of Mombasa, he is alleged to have sought the services of a witchdoctor to cleanse him and then fled to Tanzania.

His current location is not known.

Monica was found in a bathtub at her apartment in Lamuria Gardens in Kilimani, with her throat slit.

Her hands and legs were also tied when the body was discovered by her brother who had failed to reach her on phone and decided to visit the house.

The deceased was murdered on the day she arrived in the country from Juba, where she operated their family business, and was scheduled to travel to Dubai to meet her South Sudanese fiancée, with whom they were reportedly planning a wedding.

Another detective briefed on the DNA outcome said it shows that Jowie may have had sexual contact with the deceased before or after the killing.

Earlier reports said police are beginning to get a clearer profile of the killer from the way he operated and have now concluded that he is highly trained and killed Ms Kimani with the precision of a highly trained assassin.

There was no sign of struggle in the apartment and Ms Kimani made no noise when her attacker struck.

Results of DNA analysis on samples collected from the house of slain businesswoman Monica Kimani are out.

The outcome of the tests was submitted to the officers handling the murder case at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Wednesday.

DNA tests and fingerprint analysis placed Joseph Irungu at the scene of the murder of Monica Kimani.

Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, has been placed at the heart of the investigation into the murder of the woman whose body was found in a bathtub in her Nairobi apartment with her throat slit.

Reports say that DNA tests on semen found on the murdered woman ,Monicah Kimani, and other samples from under her nails, confirmed with a 99.9 per cent accuracy that they belonged to Irungu.

This has placed him at the scene of crime on the material day and time.

Other samples which include bloodstained fingerprints also matched 99 per cent those collected from Irungu.

A senior officer involved in the probe said, “We are now working on witnesses.”

Other samples with similar findings had been dusted from an adhesive tape that was found covering Monica’s mouth, a rope used to tie her hands, and the bathtub.

The bloodstains were found on a sofa set. The investigators said fingerprints lifted from Monica’s body also matched those of Irungu.

Government Chemist Detectives from the Homicide Unit at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters have been working with officials from the Government Chemist in the analysis of the samples.

Ms Kimani, 28, was murdered in her house on the night of September 19 and 20, and her body— with a throat slit from ear to ear, taped tied mouth and tied legs and hands— left in the bathtub with the water running.

Her assailants threw her two phones in a bathtub full of water before locking the house and leaving with the apartment keys.

Police believe the killer used a knife to cut Monica’s throat but he knife is yet to be found.

Police say that the phones which were recovered and analysed gave crucial information.

In addition, police said that pieces of cloth subjected to forensic tests also provided crucial clues, police said.

The team also dusted a car that Irungu was using on September 19, when Monica was killed.

The office of the Government Chemist was recently moved to the DCI, and this now seems to be working in expediting the quick resolution of crimes.

Images captured by police cameras of the car Irungu used from Denis Pritt Road to his Lang’ata residence showed that the driver was in the company of another man.

Source: Revealed: The man who assisted Joseph Irungu to kill Monica Kimani before fleeing to Tanzania.

And:

Jacque Maribe and her fiancé plead not guilty to Monica Kimani murder

Published: October 15, 2018
By: African Stand Staff

TV celebrity Jacque Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu plead not guilty to Monica Kimani murder

Kenyan TV anchor Jacque Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu alias Jowie have pleaded not guilty to Monica Kimani’s murder.

At the Milimani Law Courts, the duo pleaded not guilty to the murder of Monica Kimani. This preceded last week’s ruling where Justice Lessit ordered mental assessment of Maribe and medical treatment for Irungu.

Irungu’s counsel Mugambi Laichena asked the court to ensure he is furnished with all documents and exhibits that the prosecution will rely on

Katwa Kigen for Maribe also requested for close hearing dates, all prosecution documents, investigation diary and investigation officers’ statements. The defence team also requested for the trial dates to be declared.

Public prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki told the court that her office can only provide the defence team with the details once the Witness Protection Agency gives direction on witness protection.

She was however not averse to setting early trial dates as requested by Mr Kigen.

Justice Lesiit directed that the victim’s family had up to the morning of Tuesday, October 16, to file an affidavit seeking to bar release of the two suspects on bail, which application will be served to the defence team and heard on Wednesday.

Justice Lesiit said that another judge will take up the case as from Wednesday but did not name him or her when lawyer Kigen asked her about it.

Maribe has been detained at the Langata Women Prison while Irungu is held at the Industrial Area Remand Prison, Nairobi.

Katwa Kigen and Cliff Ombeta representing Maribe and Irungu respectively said they were ready for the next stage of the case. They emphasised that their clients are innocent.

Justice Jessie Lesiit on Tuesday directed the prosecution ensure that Ms Maribe undergoes mental assessment within a week, so that she can take a plea.

Last week Justice Lesiit cleared Irungu to seek medical attention for treatment of a bullet wound on his chest. The prosecution is lining up over ten witnesses to solidify the case.

On Thursday Jacque Maribe was declared fit to stand trial.  On the same day, another suspect, Brian Kasaine was released and ordered to report to police once a week. He is expected to be a witness.

Kasaine’s arrest came after it emerged Irungu might have used Kasaine’s  gun in attempted suicide.

Police believe that the attempt took place in Maribe’s house at the Royal Park estate in Langata, hours after the body of Monica was discovered at her Kilimani house. They are trying to link the September 19 murder to Irungu’s gunshot wound. Another man seen at the murder scene is yet to be arrested.

The police believe that the missing man has knowledge of the killer weapon and will help establish the motive of the murder.  The search for the suspect was extended to Mombasa last week.

Monica’s body was found in the bathtub of her apartment at Lamuria Gardens, Kilimani,with her throat slit. Her hands were tied at the back and the water was still running when her body was found.

Source: Jacque Maribe and her fiance plead not guilty to Monica Kimani murder

Albinism in Tanzania: slow progress in combatting violence and discrimination

In 2008 a wave of murders of albinos in eastern and central Africa attracted worldwide attention and condemnation even though it wasn’t the first time albinos were targeted in countries like Tanzania, Burundi and Malawi.

In June 2008, a New York Times online edition aired a news brief on albino killings in Tanzania, which caused a sensation. In July 2008, a BBC journalist, Vicky Ntetema, posed as a businesswoman who wanted to get rich quick and consulted 10 witchdoctors in Tanzania. Several witchdoctors promised to get her a magic concoction mixed with ground albino organs. The starting price was $2,000 for the vital organs. Later she had to go in hiding after receiving death threats because of her undercover work. A BBC video on the horrifying spate of killings of albinos in Tanzania, broadcast in August of the same year, was later taken off the air. Also in July Al Jazeera presented a video on the fate of albinos in Tanzania (Part 1 and Part 2). The European Union condemned the ritual murdering of albinos (September, 2008), followed by UNICEF (December, 2008). By then, according to the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS), more than 35 albinos had been killed in 2008 alone, with many other such cases unreported. For more cases, covering the 2003 – 2010 period, you’re welcome to visit my archives. Unfortunately, many links have expired. (For this reason I copy all articles and publish them on the present site while acknowledging their origin).
It’s important to mention that ‘Under The Same Sun’ founder Peter Ash estimates the total number of deadly victims to be twice the official figure in a December 3, 2008 interview. Viewers are warned that the interview can be shocking because of the graphic nature of the story.

The NGO Under The Same Sun helps people with albinism overcome often deadly discrimination through education and advocacy. UTSS was started by Peter Ash, a former pastor and Canadian businessman with albinism, and Vicky Ntetema, mentioned earlier, Tanzania’s BBC bureau chief whose report in July 2008 broke the story to the world of the gruesome murders of persons with albinism in Tanzania. UTSS was founded in 2008. Visit the impressive site of Under The Same Sun, a comprehensive site about Persons with Albinism in Tanzania.

Under The Same Sun helps people with albinism overcome often deadly discrimination through education and advocacy

The following article dates from 2015 but as forthcoming posts will also demonstrate, the fight against discrimination of people with albinism is far from over, and therefor I want to congratulate Under The Same Sun, the Tanzania Albinism Society, and other organizations supporting the same cause for their valuable work and wish them success in the future. May their work soon be no longer needed! (webmaster FVDK)

Published on May 13, 2015
By Daniel Wesangula
The Guardian

Around 30,000 people with albinism are thought to be living in Tanzania. Photograph: Ana Palacios

Albinos live with the risk of being killed, their body parts fetching high prices for witchcraft – but NGOs hope that change is coming.

“This is possibly the worst time to be a person living with albinism in Tanzania,” says Amir Manento.

In October, citizens will go to the polls to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. “Every election period brings with it a new cycle of killings. In between we have other smaller elections translating to more abductions, more killings.” Manento, a retired judge and human rights activist, has been at the forefront of campaigning for the rights of people living with albinism for decades. “We see an increase of witchcraft and the use of human body parts, particularly albino body parts, in the run-up to the general elections.” Albino body parts are associated with good luck, and as the country gears up for the elections, the demand for good luck charms goes up. Sacrifices during this time are thought by some to be a sure way of guaranteeing victory in the polls.

“Albino hunting came into the limelight around 10 years ago, particularly within the fishing and mining communities,” says Dr Benson Bana, a political science and public administration lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam. Bana believes that some of the roots of the problem lie in the financial downturn in the area around Lake Victoria, one of the regions where there have been the most killings and abductions.

“A certain poverty touched our people after the privatisation of fishing activities in Lake Victoria,” says Bana. “Everything was being controlled, from where one could fish to the size of the holes in his fishing net. The result was diminished harvests. Every above-average catch by the little guys was then attributed to superstition. This is when witchdoctors started peddling the belief that people living with albinism or their body parts, most of whom coincidentally live in these regions, could be used as good luck charms.”

Bana believes that this devastating association was then passed on to neighbouring mining communities. “Eventually it caught wind and was looked upon as a legitimate way of acquiring riches and power by some individuals. Hence the association with politicians.”

Tanzania is thought to have one of the world’s largest populations of people living with albinism, a congenital disorder that robs skin, eyes and hair of their pigment. But for years this population of about 30,000 people has existed under the threat of abductions and ritual killings, and in recent years the situation appears to have worsened.

According to a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a complete set of Albino body parts – including all four limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose – can fetch up to $75,000 (pdf).

The Tanzania Albinism Society says it is almost impossible to know the numbers of those abducted or killed since the beginning of the year. What they are sure of, though, is that the number of victims will be higher than the two cases that made it into police records in 2013.

“Even last year the numbers might have been higher because these crimes are very intimate. Mostly a close family member, even a father, is involved in the killings and abductions. In such cases silence wins; his wife will probably be an accomplice in the crime. Nothing will be said of the matter again and the police will have no chance of prosecuting anyone,” says Severin Edward, programme coordinator for the Tanzanian Albinism Society.

A total of 155 cases of violation of albino rights have been reported to Tanzanian authorities since 2009, according to a study (pdf) released in March by Under The Same Sun, an NGO working to combat discrimination against people with albinism.

“Of these cases, 75 were deaths. We have also received 18 reports of grave violations,” said Don Sawatzky, director of operations for UTSS. The study, which gathered together data from 25 different countries in Africa, found reports of 145 albino killings, in addition to 226 violations that include mutilations, other forms of violence, and kidnappings.

UTSS has been actively pushing the United Nations for four key resolutions aimed at ending all forms of discrimination of people living with albinism.

A total of 155 cases of violation of albino rights have been reported to Tanzanian authorities since 2009.
Photograph: Ana Palacios

However, Sawatzky argues that to describe the killings as a phenomenon propelled by recent economic hardship would be “to accept the easy answer”.
“Nobody really knows the origin of the killings, since documentation in Africa is not common other than through oral tradition. All we know for sure is that albinism has been ‘mythologised’ since time beyond memory. Muti murders, or ‘medicine’ killings, have a deep, longstanding history, and are a familiar concept to most Africans,” he says. In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the nation’s first albino member of parliament, Isaac Mwaura, says it is time measures are put in place to end these killings and abductions, and that existing laws need to be adhered to by all affected countries.

“Kenya has strict trafficking laws, the same as Tanzania. What makes it possible for criminals to take our children, mothers, fathers or brothers across borders and sell them off like commodities to witch doctors? Enforcement of laws is one of the weakest links in this war. We have become the hunted. Neither we nor our children are safe. Fathers are betraying their children’s trust and selling them off like unwanted baggage. Mothers are conspiring to traffic their own flesh and blood to senseless deaths.”

In Tanzania the government has been working with NGOs and civil society, and results are now being seen. “Never before have we seen so much effort from the government and the general public. At least we are now getting convictions, primarily because investigations are more thorough and new laws are being set up,” says Manento. “Although no executions have taken place, a total of 17 individuals have received the death sentence, some of them as recently as March, when four individuals, including the husband of the murdered victim, were convicted,” he said.

To win this war, NGOs at the forefront believe collusion within the community must come to an end. “We must educate families to understand that having such a child is not a gateway to quick riches. We then encourage the rest of the community to speak up,” says Edward. “The society needs to be more empowered and supported to co-operate. For instance, when family members are involved in killings or abductions it is quite difficult to get witnesses, because even they are not assured of their security.”

Sawatzky also believes that the war will be won, just not in the near future. “Like all forms of discrimination, it will take several generations to achieve. I will not see the war won in my lifetime. The youth and future generations are the best answer to this war,” he said.

More community sensitisation needs to be achieved, says Justus Kamugisha, regional police chief in Shinyanga, in the north of the country. “We need to make our people understand that there are no shortcuts to prosperity. Only hard, honest work pays. Taking the life of someone else, regardless of his condition, is simply murder, for which you will be charged.”

Source: The Guardian, May 13, 2015

More:

Albinism in Tanzania: safe havens in schools and support centers – in pictures
Photographs by Ana Palacios – May 13, 2015

Tanzania bans witchdoctors in attempt to end albino killings,
The Guardian, January 14, 2015

Tanzania albino murders: ‘More than 200 witchdoctors’ arrested
BBC, March 12, 2015

Witchcraft and the law in Tanzania
The Guardian, September 26, 2008