Having said this, the following article contains a chilling mention of the state of affairs in Uganda with respect to the occurrence of ritual murders (‘human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon‘). (webmaster FVDK)
Whoever will be found guilty of sacrificing a person for ritual purposes faces a maximum punishment of death following the passing of a law on human sacrifice.
The Human Sacrifice Bill (2020), once assented to by the President, will also see those who finance acts of human sacrifice facing death. Clause 1 of the Bill defines human sacrifice as killing, mutilation, removal of organs or body parts of a person for sale or for purpose of witchcraft, rituals or any harmful human practices.
While presenting the Private Member’s Bill yesterday, which was overwhelmingly supported, Ayivu MP Benard Atiku argued that the current law does not provide for the offence of human sacrifice and that the human sacrifice related cases are prosecuted as murder or related offences under the Penal Code Act.
Human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon involving people who seek quick means of amassing wealth or power. A renowned case is that of 2008 involving Joseph Kasirye, a boy (then aged 12 years) whose torso was found in a swamp, headless and with no genitals.
Businessman Kato Kajubi was found guilty of murder and was handed life imprisonment on conviction. A section of MPs welcomed the passing of the Bill.
“In fact, it is long overdue. Human sacrifice is not only inhumane but it is evil,” Mbale Woman MP Connie Galiwango said. Ms Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP) and Gulu Woman MP, said she did not understand why people were sacrificing children.
“You go to a witchdoctor expecting to give you riches, yet that witchdoctor stays in a grass-thatched hut?” Ms Ocan wondered. Kasese Municipality MP Robert Centenary commended the passing of the Bill after reasoning that adults are victims too.
Previously, the perpetrators of human sacrifice have targeted people with specific features, including albinos, those without body piercings, big umbilical cords, a gap in their front teeth, among other features.
Authorities, including police and religious leaders, have repeatedly highlighted that there is no connection between human sacrifice and riches. Meanwhile, Mr Emmanuel Jor Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP, had earlier recommended a harsher punishment for human sacrifice culprits.
“I suggest that the people involved in the practice should be tried by the military and if found guilty, be put on firing squad because we really want to deter people from this practice.”
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga stated that Parliament had now provided an opportunity for justice to all the victims of human sacrifice.
“On a number of occasions, when children delegations come to visit me at Parliament, they ask me: ‘where is justice for Kasirye’. I think today (yesterday), we can answer that question and say that Parliament has now provided an avenue for justice for Kasirye and other victims like him,” Ms Kadaga said. Children often the most victims of human sacrifice.
More on the Bill ● Clause 5 says whoever encourages or advises any person to use human body parts in any ritual or their use in any treatment or other forms of healing would be liable to life imprisonment. ● Under Clause 6, whoever is found in possession of human body parts and instruments of human sacrifice is liable to life imprisonment. ● Clause 9 provides for psychosocial support to survivors of human sacrifice. ● Clause 10 provides for compensation, rehabilitation or restitution to be made by court in certain cases.
Last week, Senator Mike Nyambuya spoke at the sad occasion of the burial of the two children, cousins Dilan and Melissa Benza (both seven years old), who were murdered for ritualistic purposes on April 13. Among the suspects arrested is Dilan’s maternal uncle.
Their fate cause much unrest in the country where emotions were already high after the ritual killing of a boy, Tapiwa Makore, seven years old, who was brutally murdered, also by his uncle, in September 2020. I reported extensively on his tragic death. Due to certain circumstances I haven’t yet reported on the ritual murder of the Benza cousins. Hopefully I will in the near future.
Senator Nyambuya’s remarks struck me, not only because of the contents of his message but also because his name reminded me of my very close friend Muchaneta Nyambuya. May his soul rest in peace. Muchaneta and I were colleagues at the University of Liberia where we were both teaching at the College of Business and Public Administration and we became close friends. In the late 1970s, a surge in ritualistic murders caused much upheaval in Liberia and I asked Muchaneta whether this phenomenon was unique for Liberia. Read here what he had to say to my question.
I have learned a lot after these years in Liberia. More than 40 years have passed since then. Mucha, as we affectionally called him, left for Zimbabwe on the eve of the official independence of his country. Following the Lancaster House Agreement, Zimbabwe became an independent republic in April 1980. The days of Ian Smith, who in 1965 had made history with his Unilateral Declaration of Independence, were definitely over. The new strongman was Robert Mugabe. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. I will not dwell on his fate, Mucha’s. He died suddenly and unexpectedly, after what people call ‘a 24-hour treatment’ in the interrogation rooms of Zimbabwe’s secret police. But that’s another story.
Back to 2021 in Zimbabwe and the recent surge in ritual murders. (webmaster FVDK).
‘Ritual Murder Instigators Should Face Stiff Sanctions’
Published: May 1, 2021 By: Pindula, Zimbabwe
Senate deputy president Senator Mike Nyambuya has called for the enactment of legislation to punish people who incite others to perform ritual murders.
Nyambuya was speaking on Friday last week at the burial of the slain Benza cousins at the Benza homestead in Kanganya Village in Mutasa, Manicaland Province.
Dilan and Melissa Benza (both seven years old), who were cousins and pupils at St Robert’s Mbaza Primary School in Mutasa, were brutally murdered on their way home from school on 13 April.
The prime suspect is Solomon Manyama, Dilan’s maternal uncle, while Passmore Sambaza is another suspect.
They were both remanded in custody to 6 May when they appeared at Nyanga magistrate’s court last week on Tuesday facing murder charges.
The Benza family spokesperson, Johannes Benza, revealed that the two were not killed at the same spot as was initially thought.
Benza said Melissa was the first to be killed on the grass near the Blair toilet where their bodies were dumped, while Delane was slain in a maize field near the Sambaza homestead.
Speaking at the burial which was attended by over 500 people, Nyambuya said the two cousins’ deaths had touched the whole nation. He said:
It could have been one of your children or grandchildren dying in such a cruel manner. It could have been any one of us here being murdered in cold blood because these ritual killers know no age. We are still in shock.
Where have our norms and values gone to? We should respect the sanctity of human life. Laws should be enacted to punish the perpetrators and those who incite people to conduct ritual killings.
The nation is still mourning the death of Tapiwa Makore from Murehwa and now we are burying the two Benza children who were ruthlessly murdered.
We don’t know who will be the next victim. Communities should be on the lookout for ritual killers. All those convicted should face the full wrath of the law.
Tapiwa Makore was also 7-years-old when he was brutally murdered by his uncle Tapiwa Makore Sr and his herdsman Tafadzwa Shamba in September last year.
He was buried several months after his murder without his head and other body parts which were allegedly harvested for ritual purposes.
The following reflection is important. It shows that there are good-hearted and highly educated Zimbabweans who convincingly argue that the recent ritual murders necessitate an adjustment of the country’s laws. This reaction is partly motivated by the ritualistic killing of Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa and the two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa (see my previous postings).
The author of the article presented below also focuses on a person who is often behind these ritual killings: the songoma or faith healer. Too often, the songoma is left out of the investigations following the ritual murder and not implicated in the trial of the actual killer(s) whereas in fact the songoma can be considered an important driving force behind the heinous crime which is committed during the murderous traditional ritual.
Let’s monitor how swiftly Zimbabwe’s rulers including lawmakers and the judiciary act! I will keep you informed (webmaster FVDK).
Time to look beyond ritual murderers
Published: April 30, 2021 By: Zimbabwe Independent – Sharon Hofisi
I ONCE represented people charged with murder in court. That was where I had my first real encounter with the subject of intentional or negligent killing. It was not a positive experience. Nevertheless, I got some acquittals. I remember the cases well. They took my inexperienced product of law school and taught me to understand the criminal laws and procedures of this country with deep preparation. So I took the cases on a pro deo basis. Put simply, this means acting for God. But with the increasing ritual killings, a lack of deliberate offences on ritual killings and honour crimes is a serious lacuna in our criminal justice system.
The purpose of criminal laws should mirror the nature of the society itself. Societies that are governed through laws are called to heal the divisions caused by violators of the law. When a society seems to be in danger of endless commissions of heinous crimes, focusing too much on investigation machinery and work and neglecting criminal law reform may pose further deep seated challenges. What often happens, however, is that even if the laws are reformed, we need to guard against reactionary responses to endemic problems. If the purpose of criminal law reform is to curb impunity in all forms of killings and deal decisively with utter disregard of the sanctity of human life, then a law can be a healthy first step in protecting the rights of vulnerable sections of society such as women, children, persons with albinism and other disabilities.
Even a criminal law reform committee will be horrified to learn that ritual motivators are not part of the suspects to be arrested. We are encouraged by the fact that our criminal laws allow for the arrest and prosecution of accomplices. But psyched people are usually afraid of the unknown. The psyched ritual killers strike fast, simultaneously attacking unsuspecting children or persons with disabilities.
The details that usually emerge after the gruesome killings are too numerous and disturbing. We definitely cannot bring our conscience to understand the difference between the actual killer and the one who motivates the killer to do so. The killer believes it is going to be an “all-for-purple-life” killing. Later, he is taught that the act was natural after all when he gets caught. It was his darkest ritual psyched moments that brought the longest, bloodiest, most heinous crimes to carry out. It costs innocent lives and no financial rewards as promised. And most families of the killers are left destitute. The breadwinner is locked up and the family is drawn into incessant wars of appeasing vengeful spirits as contemplated in our traditional faiths.
The hideous scars born by the families of the victims will last a very long time. But these ritual killing motivators are cunning and they will continue to hoodwink many people into psyched killings. They may never get their comeuppance. Certainly the time has come to act decisively on criminal law reform on ritual murder and honour crimes in Zimbabwe. Legislation, the passing of Acts in Parliament, is the most important of Parliament’s many tasks. I believe many stakeholders can agree on the explanatory memorandum for a Ritual Murders and Honour Crimes Bill. The long title of that Bill can deal with issues relating to the ritual murders and honour crimes and other purposes connected with these issues. The enacting formula can be decided by the nature of offences being committed usually against vulnerable sections of societies such as children, elderly women, persons with disabilities and so forth.
Perhaps the major point to grasp about ritual killings is that a psychic person, or even a bogus part of a psychic person, promises someone a lavish lifestyle once a heinous crime is committed. It could be the killing of a sibling, distant relative or some stranger. Exactly what is meant by “ritual” is not necessarily obvious since the killing of the person is controlled by the killer who uses the elaborate descriptions from the psychic leader. A small change in the psychic instructions can make a huge difference – so we hear from failed ritual killing missions. Each small step is catalysed and crystallised by the need for hot porridge riches. Many of these random killings may do the killer no harm if he observes the instructions (muko). Sometimes the killer will destroy the fighting powers of the deceased through some further rituals, kutsipika ngozi. This means that in any event, the killer is fully aware that they intentionally committed murder.
Reading stories about gruesome murders of young children by people who were promised material or financial gains tests our resolve as a polity of relationships between crime and fighting crime. We are given a set of criminal instances and must choose another set of responses that is related in the same way.
Many reforms of criminal laws are possible. Reading the modus operandi of criminals test our ability to understand and interpret the criminal laws we can promulgate in response. This is probably the most important ability we need as a society at the moment.
In analysis of the killings of children in our media reportages, we are presented with situations detailing criminal events and then a result of something that is steered by someone who is believed to possess some supernatural or magical powers to make people rich, overnight.
Our task is to decide in the legal and non-legal fraternity whether certain statements or motivations to commit crimes provide adequate explanations of how we can curb violent crimes. Each new crime provides us with a new format for criminal law reform.
For Zimbabwe and the disturbing killings, it’s now much more than just a usual ritual murder, headlines and efficient state response. We need to move beyond crime scene visits and the arrest of suspects. Ritual murders are now shaping an entire generation of criminal inquiry. It’s now the time to transform the changing and disturbing criminal scenes of the last ten or so years into a clear and widely-reformed criminal justice system in Zimbabwe. The motivating variable in this urgent need for criminal justice reform is steeped in legal realism. Law may be stable, but it cannot stand still if I may employ Roscoe Pound’s philosophy.
Are these ritual crimes something reflective of honour crimes, where relatives and close acquaintances are the pawns in the much bigger chess game? Barely when the Makore killing had left our minds we hear of the gruesome murder of two children. Zimbabwe has witnessed the targeted ritual killings which encourage criminal responsibility to be broadened in scope. Each killing achieves a disturbing measure of brutality and mental intention to kill. The recurring pattern of failed rituals that are broken by arrest of the suspects and eventual incarceration of such suspects all have at most one thing in common: each killing in its own way forces the killer and the ritual motivator to forge an unholy alliance; share the same mental and actual intention to kill, only from the opposite perspective.
The actual killer is psyched to kill. The ritual motivator psyches the ultimate killer. Each fails to see that confronted with effective investigation machinery the prospective ritual will inevitably not succeed. Equally gruesomely, each fails to see that the criminal path between hatching a heinous act of killing and frenzied killing act is not only false but leads towards a catastrophic breakdown of the family fabric.
The falsity of the ritual shows that one or two or more or many suspects are arrested. The ritual motivator, the instigator of the death of the innocent young souls remains. He or she continues hoodwinking many people into killing many young children.
All in the name of enhancing business or getting filthy money! Here too, there is more criminality in the sangoma or faith healer than criminal intention in the actual killer. The sangoma or ritual motivator does not simply aim to alleviate poverty through the loss of innocent blood of a family member, gruesome murder, psyched actions, and so forth. Efforts to control and encourage killing, no matter how important or necessary, are only one aspect of “intentional killing”. The sanctity of human life, and human life itself, as we know from our Constitution and even various types of our faiths, depend on more than the alleviation of poverty and the satisfaction of material needs. The reason for which we were created is to enjoy life and the maker of it forever.
Hofisi is a transformative transitional justice practitioner, normative influencer and disruptive thinker.
Unfortunately, the below article contains a too familiar story. Attacks on persons with albinism, mutilation, murder, involvement of high-placed politicians, cover up practices. The President of the Associations of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Ian Simbota, again turned his attention to the country’s rulers and requested the government of President Lazarus Chakwera to speed up all abduction and murder cases which targeted people with albinism (PWA) for ritualistic purposes, often involving high-profile politicians.
It is shocking to read the following article. I won’t repeat here what follows. Once more, however, I want to draw attention to these heinous crimes which threaten people with albinisme on a daily basis. Ritual murders must end. Politicians and other culprits who are involved must be apprehended, put on trial and sentenced. Simultaneously, a national awareness campaign must start, emphasizing the sanctity of life, the need to protect innocent people, the promotion of human rights notably to right to live and the right to live without fear. The government must take its responsibility and act accordingly – or resign. (webmaster FVDK).
APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases
Published: April 29, 2021 By: Nyasa Times – Tiwonge Kumwenda
A recent surge in ritual murders of children has shocked Zimbabwe. Within a short period, three children were murdered for ritualistic purposes: Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa and the two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa. I have extensively covered the murder of Tapiwa. The following days I will provide more details about the murder of Delan and Melissa.
The child sacrifices have led to many reactions. One of these comments follows here. It contains a plea for tougher measures for the culprits, even the capital punishment. There is much to say about (and against) the death penalty but let us know focus here on the editorial comments. To be cont’d. (webmaster FVDK)
EDITORIAL COMMENT : Combined effort needed to thwart ritual murders
Published: April 27, 2021 By: The Herald, Zimbabwe
The murder of three children for what appears to be ritual purposes in just seven months is a worrying dark cloud over Zimbabwe and requires action at both community level and among a number of sections of society.
These are not the first such killings, perhaps just the best publicised for some time since the victims were all seven-years-old and the police moved swiftly and effectively to track down the suspects, with other family members among those arrested and remanded.
There is a superstitious belief among a minority that killing a child or another young person in a particular way, which can be equated to torture before the murder, and then processing certain body parts in a set-down manner will create, increase and maintain wealth.
This is nonsense, and with the competent homicide investigations now in progress it must be becoming obvious that initiating such a killing is totally unlikely to bring anything, but a very long jail sentence for the killers.
Although the death penalty is still on the books for aggravated murder by an adult man, and aggravating circumstances do not come more aggravating than pre-meditated murder of a child for financial gain, the fact remains that Zimbabwe does not implement death penalties any more, and instead life imprisonment is substituted.
There are already many positive developments that can help to end this practice of ritual killings. It is now clear that communities are willing to take action, rather than quiver in fear and keep quiet.
People are not afraid to stand up and be counted and are willing to pass on whatever information they have to the police.
In fact one of the major problems now in such investigations is that some are passing on confusing fifth-hand hearsay, which still needs to be properly investigated, rather than hard fact of what they saw. But homicide detectives are trained to separate the chaff from the hard fact, and better that too many try and help than too few.
A second problem is more serious, and has already been mentioned by legislators, including recently Senator Michael Nyambuwa who visited the Mutasa families.
We need investigations to be pursued to bring the person who gave the ritual advice and who might well have promised to process any body parts.
Even if they did not initiate the killings, and accept some sort of lie when organs are presented, they are still involved in a murder and can be tried as an accomplice.
N’angas still have a lot of respect and are feared by some, so it can be difficult to get a name, let alone evidence.
Obviously the actual killers believe in the powers of the n’anga they are using; even in the days when the killers were hanged they refused to give the name and walked silently to the gallows.
Here communities need to encourage people to come forward. There will be a lot of vague and wrong information, but police can then run down the leads. The point is that a person ready to apply their traditional learning to criminal purposes cannot be totally unknown in an area.
The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association can also become more involved, first by teaching very clearly that such killings do not create wealth, only misery, and then encouraging people to come forward.
In fact traditional healers in a particular area might well have a better idea of which one of their number has turned to the dark side than the average lay person, and should be encouraged to pass on this information.
Traditional leaders, who have already made their abhorrence of such crimes very clear, can also go further in prevention, as well as doing what they do now by calling on their communities to assist after a crime.
The ideal is to have a murder trial with both the killers and the n’anga who offered advice all in the dock, with sufficiently good evidence that all can be convicted and then go to jail together.
Detectives chosen for such investigations might need to be carefully selected; there is still a significant number of superstitious people, and even some Christian churches who worry about the creativity of evil, although this is a heretical belief in mainstream Christianity.
Such severely aggravating murders also stress the need for Zimbabwe to upgrade its sentencing laws for murder, now that we have effectively abandoned the death penalty as an active punishment.
The reforms need to give judges setting sentences more discretion, and as we have argued before we need a system of parole.
In his latest clemency order, the President, with Cabinet consent and what must have been detailed advice, in effect set 15 years behind bars as the absolute minimum for a life sentence. This is not unreasonable and is the effective minimum period of incarceration in many jurisdictions for an “ordinary” murder.
However, countries that have formally abolished the death penalty and substituted life imprisonment usually allow the sentencing judge to make a recommendation over the minimum term in each case.
In most cases this is whatever the standard is in that country before parole can be considered, frequently 15 years.
But where there are aggravating circumstances the judge can set a longer minimum term before release can even be considered and, in exceptionally aggravating circumstances, can even call for a “whole life” sentence, or “life imprisonment without any possibility of parole”, as some American states word it.
Because the killer is not executed this can always be adjusted later if perceptions change or new evidence emerges, but meanwhile the deterrent is in place.
A parole system also means that a released lifer is monitored for the rest of their lives, forbidden to do certain jobs, enter certain businesses and possess anything on a list of prohibited items, such as anything that could be used as a weapon.
And parents clearly need to be protective. This is always difficult, of deciding where do you draw the lines. But one general rule is safety in numbers and having older children helping to shepherd younger children.
We have all seen gaggles of schoolchildren who live near each other moving as a group and automatically having some older teenagers in that group.
Admittedly a lot of this breaks down, as in the latest two cases, when relatives are suspected to be involved, people who are normally trusted.
But every bit helps and at least there are witnesses if a child is whisked away by an uncle or aunt.
That is precisely how the police made their initial arrests in the latest two child killings, by following up reports from people who saw something that in retrospect needed to be told.
When the dead body of a man believed to be in his fifties was found with his head missing, everyone thought of a ritual crime. Although nobody knows exact how many ritual murders are being committed and the official number of victims of ritualistic acts being (relatively speaking) low, dead bodies with missing body parts immediately lead to the conclusion that a ritual murder has been committed.
Let’s hope the police investigations into the crime are fruitful and the exact circumstances of the man’s death are soon known. If indeed a heinous crime was committed, the perpetrator(s) must be apprehended soon and brought to justice. The rule of law must apply and superstition must be banned from society as quick as possible. Living without fear for his / her life is a human right (webmaster FVDK).
Palm wine tapper’s lifeless body found without the head
The lifeless body of a palm wine tapper believed to be in his 50’s has reportedly been discovered but his head could not be found.
The deceased identified as Agya Manu is believed to have been killed on a farm at Dunkwa Asoboa in the Upper Denkyira East District of the Central Region, according to a report by Starrfm.com.gh.
Kasapa FM’s Yaw Boagyan reported that he was alleged to have been killed and dumped in the bush with his head severed for alleged money rituals.
Agya Manu left home on Sunday 18 April around 5:30 am for his farm to tap some palm wine before returning to join the family for the Sunday service, but unusual of him, as at 4:PM in the evening he had still not returned.
His worried children were sent to trace his footsteps but they only returned with the bottle he had left home with at the exact end he was to fetch the palm wine.
Residents and family of the deceased became even more alarmed and organised a search for him but that did not yield any result.
Then, on Tuesday 20th April, a lady named Maame Otu found the body which was suspected to be that of Agya Manu lying at the entrance to her farm.
She hurried home to break the sad news to the community, members of which converged on the scene and confirmed through physical examination that the corpse was indeed that of Agya Manu.
Police in Dunkwa have taken custody of the body and samples of his blood have been taken to Dunkwa On-Offin government hospital for examination while an investigation is expected to commence into the incident.
After yesterday’s article on the spread of ritualistic killings in Liberia by the Daily Observer, this leading Liberian newspaper surprises us today again with another article focusing a phenomenon which seems so difficult to eliminate in this West African country. Another group of citizens is protesting against the mysterious deaths in the country, which they blame on certain people responsible for ritualistic and secret killings. Citizens against secret killings (CUASK) allege that while the Sirleaf administration era saw a number of mysterious, ritualistic deaths as well as secret killings, such deaths are even more alarming under the George Weah administration.
True of untrue? It’s a fact that nobody in Liberia is surprised by news of another ritual murder that has been committed. In the last paragraph of the Daily Observer newspaper article – presented below – two recent examples are being given.
-As families of the deceased fear for their lives for speaking in public on how they feel about the loss of their loved ones
A group of angry citizens, some of whom are mourning the mysterious deaths of their loved ones, marched on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 marched petitioned the United States government, through its Embassy near Monrovia to call on President George Weah administration to see reason and conduct further investigations in order to establish causes of the deaths and bring the perpetrators to book.
The group, under the banner “Citizens United Against Secret Killings (CUASK)” said they are saddened to know that the Liberian government has failed or is failing to properly investigate circumstances leading to the deaths of a number of people, including some high profile government officials including security personnel, financial experts, among others.
CUASK said it strongly believes that there are hidden motives behind the alleged killings of several of those who lost their lives and that the only way those motives can be aborted and prevented from causing further harm in the Liberian society is to incessantly push the government to act appropriately rather than what they have so far done.
“We are aware that the secret and ritualistic killings have been going on, even in the previous government but the exponential rate at which it is now going is alarming. We say so because we never tell who is next among us who have come to present this petition today,” said Jethro Emmanuel Kolleh, leader of CUASK.
Kolleh added: “We also believe that the autopsy reports given were done surreptitiously to cover the facts. The doubtful reports by these governments, we mean the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration and now the Weah led administration, have left us in fear about the growing rate of impunity.
“In fact, impunity has become a monster among us and if nothing is done about it now; there may be more disastrous happenings across the country, with the perpetrators having nothing to fear simply because they will be pre-informed that doing wrong, no matter how grievous, is nothing to worry about in the country.”
In their petition, CUASK listed several names of people, including children who died through alleged questionable means as raised by the concerned citizens.
“Our motto is “All Liberians Lives Matter,” and this is why we will not stop mentioning the names of all those great sons and daughters who died under mysterious circumstances,” Kolleh further noted.
He named Harry Greaves, former managing director of Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC), Michael Allison, a whistle blower and Shakie Kamara, a 15 year old boy in West Point as individuals who died during the administration former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under troubling circumstances.
Others who died during the Sirleaf administration and named in the CUASK petition as questionable deaths were Victoria Zayzay, a young lady who Police claimed, committed suicide overnight while in custody and little Angel Togba who lived with Hans Williams and his wife in Monrovia, prior to her (Angel Togba) death which was attributed to suicide.
“We strongly believe that the deaths of Greaves and Allison were political and arbitrary. They were killed but justice was never served,” he emphasized.
The Weah era
Citizens against secret killings (CUASK) said while the Sirleaf administration era saw a number of mysterious, ritualistic deaths as well as secret killings, such deaths are more alarming under the George Weah administration.
The advocacy group said it is disappointed in the George Weah led administration because, while in opposition, they (Coalition for Democratic Change — CDC) condemned former President Sirleaf and her administration for failing to protect the lives they took oaths to protect.
“We are aware that the U.S. government is fully informed on a daily basis about happenings in Liberia. We are aware and that has been made clearly known by the State Department’s human rights report as well as the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2021,” Jethro Kolleh said.
The group referenced the death of Zenu Miller, a journalist at OK FM 99.5 as one case that ended inconclusively, but due to his family’s wish to avoid the unnecessary rigmarole that could have proven nothing worthy, Miller was buried without justice.
Zenu Miller was beaten by Presidential security personnel (Executive Protection Service (EPS) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on January 25, 2020. He became sick and was admitted at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville, the place re stayed at until his passing on February 15 of the same year.
He posted on his Facebook account saying that he was experiencing severe pain in his chest following the EPS’ brutality meted against him but in the end, Miller’s family informed the public that he died of hypertension (high blood pressure).
In October of 2020 alone, three auditors and a tax expert suffered mysterious deaths that raised public outcries.
On October 2, 2020, Gifty Lamah and Albert Peters, workers at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), were found dead on Broad Street in a car said to have been owned by Albert Peters.
Another employee of LRA, Joseph Fahnboto, died two days later, October 4, 2020.
On October 10, 2020, news broke, announcing the passing Emmanuel B. Nyenswa, head of Liberia’s Internal Audit Agency (IAA).
Following the deaths of the auditors and staffs of LRA and IAA, Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh, employees of the Ministry of Health and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital respectively, were hired by government to conduct the autopsies on the remains of the victims.
However, the autopsies reports released by the two pathologists were received with discontent by the public.
In their report, as read by Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, Gifty Lamah and Albert Peters died in the vehicle due to carbon monoxide.
The reports had it that the IAA boss, Emmanuel Nyenswa died as a result of massive hemorrhage, multiple bone and soft tissue injuries which he sustained after falling from the height of his home.
According to the Justice Minister, the IAA boss’s death requires further investigation, stating that circumstances leading to the cause of his demise are unnatural.
For George Fahnboto, the autopsy report indicated that he died as a result of the accident he was allegedly involved in along the Samuel Kanyon Doe Boulevard while driving.
Following those deaths, Melvin Earley, a U.S.-trained Presidential guard who served former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and later President Weah, was said to have died by suicide using his own gun, while on the nationwide tour with Weah in Tapitta, Nimba County.
The family of Earley and many critics of the Weah led government disagreed with the government’s allegation that he committed suicide. His widow and all of his family members as well as their supporters called on the Weah led government to provide evidence that he (Earley) took his own life, but no report came, according to them, as the widow said there is no death certificate to show cause of her husband’s death.
Several other deaths, mysterious and questionable, occurred in the weeks and months that followed. To name two more, Florence Massaquoi, 46, was found dead on the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard, with some parts of her body extracted, while in Maryland County, Mordecial Nyemah, a graduating high school student, was killed for ritualistic purpose, causing a major protest and rioting from the angry citizens of the county.
The advocacy group, citizens united against secret killings (CUASK) said they will not rest their pursuit for justice until it is served in each of the cases.
One of Liberia’s leading newspapers, the Daily Observer, today pays attention to the gruesome murder of Mordecial Nyemah and subsequent events: the protests of women in Pleebo, the vandalization of the Harper Prison Compound by protesters, the attack on the property of Bhopal Chambers, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the curfew imposed to quell the unrest. Most remarkable however is the elaborated overview of ritualistic murders in the country (without going into details of specific cases), in the aftermath of a visit of the Peace Advocates of the Maryland/Gbenelue Chapter of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI). The delegation visited the family of the late Mordecial Nyema on Monday, April 19, 2021 in Pleebo City, Maryland County.
Both the DATI peace advocates and the Daily Observer newspaper editors are to be commended for their frankness and their plea for the rule of law and to end the medieval practices which are human sacrifices. The following article gives a rare insight in the occurrence and background of ritualistic murders and human sacrifices in Liberia. It is highly recommended reading!
Notwithstanding the foregoing, a footnote seems warranted. In the Daily Observer article it is explicitly mentioned that in Liberia ritual killings are mostly if not only occurring in Maryland and Montserrado counties. This, however, is not in line with what has been reported elsewhere. Honesty commands me to say that this has been based on my own research and experience in Liberia.
Nonetheless I agree with the main conclusion and plea of the article which is presented below. Respect for human life is an essential human right. The rule of law is basic to a 21st country. A civilized nation and people respect human life (webmaster FVDK).
RIP Mordecial Nyemah!
Dire Need to Respect the Sanctity of Human Life in Liberia:
Peace Advocates Visit Family of Mordecial Nyemah in Pleebo
Published: April 22, 2021 By: Daily Observer, Liberia
Peace Advocates of the Maryland/Gbenelue Chapter of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) visited the family of Mordecial Nyema on Monday, April 19th, 2021 in Pleebo City, Maryland County. The high-powered DATI delegation was led by its Maryland County Director Meshach Sieh Elliott. During the solemn ceremony, the youths of Dehkontee Artists Theatre’s Maryland Chapter expressed their deepest condolences to Ms. Mary Nyemah, the surrogate mother of slain youth and commercial motor cyclist Mordecial Neyma and his family, for their irreparable loss. Mordecial Nyemah was a twelfth-grade student of Pleebo High School.
DATI also presented a humble consolation package to Ms. Nyema and her family to help defray some of the funeral expenses for their son. During the ceremony, libation was poured to acknowledge the presence of the spirits of our forefathers so they would bless the gathering. Mr. Thomas Kuwait Nyemah expressed gratitude on behalf of the family. He stated that what DATI did to reach out to his family was heartwarming. He thanked Dr. Gbaba and the DATI team for a job well done. Ms. Mary Nemah, aunt of the deceased also thanked DATI for their general support.
What Really Happened in Maryland?
Recently, Mordecial Nyema was gruesomely murdered in Pleebo, Maryland County by twenty-eight-year-old suspect named Roland Appleton and three other individuals identified as Moses Malmah, Francis Clarke, and Daniel Wesseh—all youths. According to the April 9, 2021 edition of “The Bush Chicken” online magazine, Mordecial Nyemah was murdered along the Maryland-Grand Kru Highway in Gbolobo-Bessiken, Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District. As a result, concerned citizens, including mothers, youths, and students organized a peaceful protest and marched from Pleebo to Harper City to seek timely justice and redress from County authorities regarding the death of their slain son and colleague.
However, observers reported that the crowd turned angry when the Acting Superintendent informed peaceful protesters Mordecial Nyemah’s murder would be addressed during the August court term while the protesters had hoped their grievances would be addressed by carrying out a speedy investigation and trial. Consequently, angry protestors burned down and vandalized several private and public properties including but not limited to the home of Borfur Chambers, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia, the Harper Central Prison Compound, and vehicles, while expressing their frustrations for the continual ritualistic killings that occur in Maryland with impunity.
In response, the government of Liberia imposed a dusk to dawn curfew and arrested several individuals and youths, including students from Tubman University. They were incarcerated at the Zwedru Palace of Corrections. Those arrested have not been arraigned and/or no fixed court dates have been set for their trial. In addition, the Liberia National Police confirmed that the
The Sanctity of Human Life
Human life is very sacred. It cannot be manufactured in a scientific laboratory, neither does man have the power to create a human being, except Almighty God. Though man plays a role through sexual intercourse during the procreation process, yet, that process of itself is a divine plan which can only occur when a male sperm mates with a female egg. Therefore, to emphasize the essence of human life God included “Thou shall not kill” as part of his Ten Commandments he gave to the Children of Israel.
Furthermore, to make himself very clear regarding the issue about the sanctity of human life, God rescued Isaac’s when God tested Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his only child. When Abraham raised the dagger to sacrifice Isaac, God miraculously intervened and changed what would have been a human sacrifice to one with an unblemished lamb. God performed this miracle because he wanted to teach mankind that we do not need human sacrifice to please him and/or to get or retain big government jobs. Ever since then, it became customary and the acceptable norm of every civilized society to slaughter an animal if one desires to make a sacrifice, whether to appease the dead, or to seek greater fortune in life.
The slaughtering of human beings is a barbaric act. It dates to barbaric eras when there was no rule of law. During those dark eras, man naively believed that offering another human being as an ultimate sacrifice would bring them fame, wealth, and success in life. However, when man became civilized and began to conglomerate there was a need to put an end to ritualistic killing because there is no scientific proof that killing another man makes you to become successful in life. In most instances success in life derives from hard work, steadfastness, and a firm determination to make ends meet. Therefore, ritualist killing and/or snatching another man’s life away in the darkness of the night is wrong and should be discouraged at all levels of society.
Ritualistic Killing Is Not Kwa or Grebo Culture and Not Liberian Culture Either!
Ritualistic killing is not Kwa or Grebo culture or Liberian culture either. It is mainly prevalently carried out in two specific regions of Liberia—Maryland and Montserrado Counties. This does not mean that ritualistic killings do not occur in other parts of Liberia. Nevertheless, when it comes to the frequency with which ritualistic killings occur in Liberia, these two regions rank top on the list. Hence, in my view and observation ritualistic killing as a foreign cult or custom was imposed on the Liberian people through the introduction of foreign cults or secret ‘societies’ in Liberia. Below, I submit some reasons for my assertion and observation as a cultural researcher.
Throughout the narratives that were told by our Kwa ancestors I have not heard any mention made of people being brutally killed outside of tribal wars like the way ritualistic killings have taken place in Maryland and Montserrado Counties over the past century. Centuries back, the Krahns were referred to by their Grebo, Kru, Bassa brothers and sisters as “Pineyoun” (Rich People). As descendants of biological brothers, members of these Kwa ethnic groups travelled to one another’s countries (territories) frequently. The Krus, Grebos, Bassas came on pilgrimage to Mount Gedeh to see the Oracle at Putu and the Krahns or Pineyoun travelled by foot to go to Gbenelue (Cape Palmas) or Zinonqlee (Krus call it Siloklee) in Sinoe County, just to see the Atlantic Ocean or to purchase salt, tobacco and other foreign goods that were not produced in the hinterland of Liberia.
Due to their fraternal relationships, those days a Krahn man traveling to Maryland or Sinoe or Grand Kru or Bassa could stop for days or weeks in any family house along his journey trail without any questions asked. They would accommodate themselves when the hosts were on the farm and when the hosts arrived, they would warmly greet their guests and accommodate them until it was time for them to leave. Not once did I hear the old folks say anyone got ‘mysteriously missing’ or was ritualistically murdered while traveling through Grebo, Bassa, or Kru land. In addition, it is also safe to say that even in the Mel and Mande territories of Liberia (western, northern, central Liberia) people roamed about freely without any incidents of ritualistic killings in Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Bomi, Barpolu, Grand Cape Mount, except for Montserrado where such diabolical act is also rampant!
Therefore, individuals who are members of the “Gboyo Cult” in Maryland must stop tarnishing the reputation of the Grebo people. Ritualistic killings are not an inherent attribute of Grebo or Kwa culture. It is a custom derived from the imposition of a foreign cult that is mainly prevalent in Maryland and Montserrado Counties.
Conclusion of DATI Peace Advocates Visit with the Nyemah Family in Pleebo
During DATI Peace Advocates’ visit with Mordecial Nyemah’s family, Ms. Mary Neymah, aunt and surrogate mother of the deceased, bitterly wept for the loss of her son and nephew. She said Mordicial’s biological parents passed when he was a child and she reared him. She lamented that he would not be graduating from high school when his colleagues successfully complete their secondary education.
However, despite the pain she and her family are going through, the Nyemah family is appealing to the Liberian government to please release those that are imprisoned as a result of their involvement in the peaceful protest that turned violent. Ms. Nyeman was speaking on behalf of her family on whose behalf thousands of citizens (mothers, fathers, students) took to the streets to protest and to march many miles from Pleebo to Harper City to present their grievances to the authorities. She says the Nyemah family regrets that what was intended to be a peaceful march turned into vandalism. However, she is also appealing to His Excellency George Manning Weah, to please release Tubman University students who are incarcerated so they can return to school. Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. also condemns the violent act perpetrated by individuals to derail the good intent of the peaceful march by the women of Pleebo and pray that our farsighted leader will ensure justice is served and that those who paid teenagers to perpetrate such violent ritualistic act will have their day in court.
Published by Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. Public Relations Section
Kasoa, formerly known as Odupongkpehe, is a coastal town in the Awutu Senya East Municipal District of the Central Region in Ghana. Reportedly, Odupongkpehe/Kasoa is one of the fastest growing communities in West Africa. In 1970, Odupongkpehe/Kasoa was a rural community. Since then, its population has multiplied nearly hundred times.
The clash between tradition and modernization may – partly – explain what recently happened in this fast growing urban community. Two teenagers were apprehended and accused of murdering a ten-year old child for ritualistic purposes after being requested by a fetish priest in the Volta Region who told the two suspects to bring human parts for rituals. It is not known what has happened with the fetish priest.
The law must take its course. However, society must reflect upon this heinous crime committed by two adolescents who, very likely, did not grow up in the tradition of a rural or village community. How could this happen? What is the role and responsibility of the parents? Have the two suspects been to school, what have the teachers taught them?
Maybe too many questions for the moment, but urgent reflection and action is required to avoid a repetition of this gruesome ritualistic act (webmaster FVDK).
Kasoa: Two teenagers arrested over alleged ritual murder of 10-year-old
Published: April 4, 2021 By: Modern Ghana
Two persons, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old are in the custody of the Kasoa Divisional Police Command for allegedly killing a 10-year-old boy for money rituals at Lamptey Mills, a suburb of Kasoa.
According to sources the suspects lured the deceased, only known as Ishmael by his peers, into an uncompleted building and hit him with an object, killing him instantly.
There are claims that a fetish priest in the Volta Region told the two suspects to bring human parts for rituals, hence the action of the pair.
The mother of the boy, Hajia Maame told Citi News that she is shocked by the news of her son’s demise.
The suspects are currently assisting in investigations.
Meanwhile, the Kasoa Divisional Police Command has so far not commented officially on the incident or the arrests.
The focus of today’s posting is not on ritualistic murders or comparable and related crimes, such as kidnapping, torture a.s.o. However, the topic is related: in more than one African country, the public and also the authorities want the introduction and the carrying out of the death penalty for convicted perpetrators of ritual killings both as a deterrent to prevent future crimes and as a justified revenge of the community for the senseless loss of life of one of its members.
It is a controversial topic, as will be clear from the article below. Whereas many African countries have abolished the capital punishment, there seems to be a resurgence of the death penalty in various parts of Africa, notably in southern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe), but also in West Africa (Nigeria e.g.). Recently, Catholic officials across the continent have rejected the increasing calls for the introduction of the death penalty, saying “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”
The latter argument makes sense. There are more reasons to defend the abolishment of the death penalty. However, supporters hold the opposite view for reasons cited above.
Whatever the position is, in favor of or against the death penalty, the article reproduced below shows one more time the ugly practice of ritualistic murders in Southern Africa.
More on the killing of people with albinism in Malawi in a few days time (webmaster FVDK).
Catholic officials decry resurgence of death penalty in southern Africa
HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Catholic officials and human rights campaigners across Africa are reiterating their opposition to capital punishment after Botswana carried out two executions for murder convictions in February.
Botswana, located north of South Africa, confirmed the executions of 33-year-old Wedu Mosalagae and 29-year-old Kutlo Setima on Feb. 8. Both had been found guilty in separate cases of killing a woman.
Oluwatosin Popoola, a legal advisor for Amnesty International on death penalty issues, told NCR that the organization is “very concerned” about the executions, especially as they are the fifth and sixth since President Mokgweetsi Masisi came into office in 2019.
This as “a high number for Botswana within a 16-month period and an indication that the country is not relenting in its adherence” to the use of the death penalty, said Popoola.
“The recent executions are regressive and they slow down Africa’s push against the death penalty,” said Popoola. “There is no unique imperative for any country to use the death penalty.”
Although many African nations have abolished use of the death penalty in the past decade — including Guinea, Benin, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar — Botswana’s government claims it can be a good deterrent to prevent violent crimes.
In nearby Malawi, proponents say it prevents the murdering of people with albinism for ritual purposes. Amnesty international said earlier in February that more than 20 murders of people with albinism have been committed in Malawi since 2014.
In 2019, three Malawians were sentenced to death for the killing of a person with albinism. (See tomorrow’s posting – FVDK). But the country has not carried out any death sentence since 1994, joining other countries such as Zimbabwe that have been imposing death sentences but not carrying out executions.
Boniface Chibwana, coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Malawi’s bishop’s conference, told NCR he thinks African Catholic officials can be doing more to drum up support for the dropping of the death penalty across the continent.
“To deter crimes such as murder, the church needs to progressively and actively socialize the young using the human rights approach, so that many of its followers should grow in Christ while respecting the human rights culture to build societies where such rights as the protection of life are a norm,” he said.
In 2019, there was a 53% jump in death sentence convictions across sub-Saharan Africa compared to 212 convictions a year earlier. These death sentences resulted from murder convictions in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Popoola said Chad, which borders Libya, Niger and Sudan, was the latest country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
Fr. Dumisani Vilakati, director of the regional conference of Catholic bishops across southern Africa, told NCR that the church is often blamed for not being vocal enough against the death penalty. But he said the church “is part of the solution” for the promotion of the right to life, from conception to natural death.
“Here in Africa, we have to put the death penalty in the pro-life scheme that has been espoused by Pope Francis,” said Vilakati.
“We are a church that preaches conversion of human beings, and we believe that people can change for the better,” said the priest. “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”
Vilakati explained that there have been numerous wrongful convictions across the continent, and inmates are increasingly having to wait longer and longer for their trials to be conducted.
“What we need to do as a society is to educate people, and the church should play its role in espousing the sanctity of life [rather] than having society eliminating people through death penalty,” said Vilakati. “We should be pro-life and give people a second chance.”