The article presented below, written by the famous Nigerian human rights activist and humanist Dr. Leo Igwe, is a must-read. His manifesto is highly recommended to all readers. It is more than a reflection, it is more than a plea, it is more than a cry – for change or for understanding. As Dr. Igwe writes: “Africans must begin to think freely in order to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’ and generate ideas that can ignite the flame of an African enlightenment.” And Dr. Igwe is not alone, he is not the only one who firmly believes this approach is the only way for Africa and Africans to move forward – as can be concluded from the list of African endorsers and other endorsers from around the world, presented at the end of his article.
Enough words written to recommend a piece that you shouldn’t miss! Enjoy the reading, and … spread the word!
PS Unfortunately, a few links in the original article are broken and/or not working properly (webmaster FVDK).
A Manifesto for a Skeptical Africa
What are the prospects for a more secular Africa, more skeptical Africa, more scientific Africa, i.e., a more humanistic Africa?
For too long, African societies have been identified as superstitious, consisting of people who cannot question, reason or think critically. Dogma and blind faith in superstition, divinity and tradition are said to be the mainstay of popular thought and culture. African science is often equated with witchcraft and the occult; African philosophy with magical thinking, myth-making and mysticism, African religion with stone-age spiritual abracadabra, African medicine with folk therapies often involving pseudoscientific concoctions inspired by magical thinking. Science, critical thinking and technological intelligence are portrayed as Western — as opposed to universal — values, and as alien to Africa and to the African mindset. An African who thinks critically or seeks evidence and demands proofs for extraordinary claims is accused of taking a “white” or Western approach. An African questioning local superstitions and traditions is portrayed as having abandoned or betrayed the essence of African identity. Skepticism and rationalism are regarded as Western, un-African, philosophies. Although there is a risk of overgeneralizing, there are clear indicators that the continent is still socially, politically and culturally trapped by undue credulity.
Many irrational beliefs exist and hold sway across the region. These are beliefs informed by fear and ignorance, misrepresentations of nature and how nature works. These misconceptions are often instrumental in causing many absurd incidents, harmful traditional practices and atrocious acts. For instance, not too long ago, the police in Nigeria arrested a ‘robber’ goat which they said was a thief who suddenly turned to a goat. A Nigerian woman was reported to have given birth to a horse. In Zambia, a local school closed temporarily due to fears of witchcraft. In Uganda, there are claims of demonic attacks in schools across the country. Persecution and murder of alleged witches continue in many parts of the continent. Many Africans still believe that their suffering and misfortune are caused by witchcraft and magic. In Malawi, belief in witchcraft is widespread. Ritual killing and sacrifice of albinos and other persons with disabilities take place in many communities, and are motivated by paranormal belief. Across Africa people still believe in the potency and efficacy of juju and magic charms. Faith-based abuses are perpetrated with impunity. Jihadists, witch-hunters and other militants are killing, maiming and destroying lives and property. Other-worldly visions and dogmatic attitudes about the supernatural continue to corrupt and hamper attempts by Africans to improve their lives. Even with the continent’s ubiquitous religiosity, many African states are to be found at the bottom of the Human Development Index and on the top of the poverty, mortality and morbidity indices.
Recently Africa was polled as the most devout region in the world, and this includes deep devotion to the continent’s various harmful superstitions. Devoutness and underdevelopment, poverty, misery and superstition co-exist and co-relate. It should be said that the dominant religious faiths in the region are faiths alien to the continent. That means African Christians are more devout than Europeans whose missionaries brought Christianity to Africa. African Muslims are more devout than Muslims in the Middle East, whose jihadists and clerics introduced Islam to the region.
Meanwhile, whatever good these foreign belief systems may have brought to or done in Africa can only be unfavorably compared to the damage and darkness they have caused and are still causing in the region. Some paranormal or supernatural claims of the two main religions of Christianity and Islam are part of the factors holding Africans hostage. Most Africans cannot think freely or express their doubts openly because these religions have placed a huge price on freethinking and critical inquiry. Because these belief systems rely on paranormal claims themselves, Africans feel they cannot speak out against superstition as a whole, or they will be ostracized or even killed by religious zealots. Belief in demonic possession, faith healing, and the “restorative” power of holy water can have deadly consequences for believers and whole communities. Africans must reject superstitious indoctrination and dogmatization in public institutions. Africans need to adopt this cultural motto: Dare to think. Dare to doubt. Dare to question everything in spite of what the superstitious around you teach and preach.
Africans must begin to think freely in order to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’ and generate ideas that can ignite the flame of an African enlightenment.
The two dominant religions have fantastic rewards for those who cannot think, the intellectually conforming, unquestioning and obedient, even those who kill or are killed furthering their dogmas. They need to be told that the skeptical goods — the liberating promises of skeptical rationality — are by far more befitting and more beneficent to Africans than imaginary rewards either in the here and now or in the hereafter. Today the African continent has become the new battleground for the forces of a dark age. And we have to dislodge and defeat these forces if Africa is to emerge, grow, develop and flourish. To some people, the African predicament appears hopeless. The continent seems to be condemned, doomed and damned. Africa appears to be in a fix, showing no signs of change, transformation and progress. An African enlightenment sounds like a pipe dream.
But I do not think this is the case — an African Age of Reason can be on the horizon! The fact is that there are many Africans who reason well and think critically. There are Africans who are skeptics and rationalists1. But active African skeptics are too few and far apart to form the critical mass the continent needs to experience a Skeptical Spring. Nonetheless, the momentum is building slowly and steadily. And one can say that an African skeptical awakening is in sight. As it is said: the darkest part of the night precedes the dawn. So there is no need to despair for humanity in Africa. There is every reason to be optimistic and hopeful. After all, Europe went through a very dark period in its history, in fact, a darker and more horrible phase than that which Africa is currently undergoing. Still the European continent survived to experience Enlightenment and modern civilization. Who ever thought that the Arab Spring would happen in our lifetime? So, African enlightenment can happen sooner than we expected. But it will not happen as a miracle. African enlightenment will not fall like manna from heaven. It requires — and will continue to require — hard work, efforts, sacrifice, courage and struggle by Africans and other friends who are committed to the values of enlightenment. In Europe, skeptics spoke out against harmful superstition, and unfounded dogma and caused the dawn of a new awakening. African skeptics need to speak out against the forces of dogma, irrationalism and superstition ravaging the continent. Skeptics need to organize and mobilize — online and offline — to further the cause of reason, science and critical thinking. They need to speak out in the media and to politicians about the harm resulting from undue credulity and challenge and confront the charlatans directly to put up or shut up. Skeptics can no longer afford to keep quiet or remain indifferent in the face of a looming dark age. They need to campaign for a reform of the educational system and encourage the teaching of critical thinking in schools.
Many charlatans operate out there in their communities. They ‘mine’ popular fears and anxieties, exploiting desperate, misinformed folks. We need to expose them and free our people from their bondage. African skeptics cannot remain passive and inactive and expect skeptical rationality to thrive and flourish or expect the forces of dogma and superstition to simply disappear. The situation requires active engagement by committed skeptics. That was how the much-talked-about skeptical tradition in the Western world was established and is sustained.
That is how we are going to build and leave a skeptical legacy for Africa.
This is a call to duty to all African skeptics in Africa and in the diaspora. History has thrust on us this critical responsibility which we must fulfill. Let us therefore marshal our will to doubt, to advance skepticism in the interest of Africa. Let us marshall other intellectual resources and cause this new dawn — this skeptical awakening to happen early in this 21st century.
African skeptics arise.
1 Skeptical and rationalist groups are gaining ground in Africa. Here are a few worth supporting:
African Endorsers George Thindwa, Executive Director, Association for Secular Humanism, Malawi Mandla Ntshakala, Activist, Swaziland Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer, University of Cape Town, South Africa Ebou Sohna, Gambia Secular Assembly, Gambia Graham Knight, Humanist Association of Ghana, Accra Ghana Olajide Akeredolu MD, Lagos, Nigeria Jes Petersen, Director, Springboard Humanism, Botswana Wilfred Makayi, Humanist Activist, Zambia James Ibor, Attorney, Basic Rights Counsel, Calabar, Nigeria Robert Bwambale, Founder & Executive Director, Kasese United Humanist Association, Uganda Kato Mukasa, HALEA, Kampala, Uganda
Other Endorsers from Around The World
James Randi, Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation, USA Michael Shermer, Executive Director, Skeptics Society, USA Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, USA D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation, USA Paul Kurtz, Founder, Institute for Science and Human Values, USA Toni Van Pelt, Policy Director, Institute for Science and Human Values Hemant Mehta, Blogger, Friendly Atheist Susan Sackett, Writer and Vice President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, USA Sonja Eggerickx President, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Belgium Josh Kutchinsky, founder and co-moderator Hummay, International Humanists Support egroup Ophelia Benson, Author and Blogger, USA Guy P. Harrison, Writer, USA Ike Francis, Human Rights Activist, USA Lorann Sims-Nsimba, Africa Awake Freethought Alliance, USA Matt Cherry, International Representative, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) Bob Churchill – International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), UK Norm Allen, International Outreach Director, Institute for Science and Human Values, USA Dr Bill Cooke, Director of International Programs for the Center for Inquiry, USA Canberra Skeptics Inc, Australia Australian Skeptics (Victorian Branch) John Perkins, The Secular Party of Australia
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and two teenagers who are allegedly his cousins were arrested by police and soldiers and accused of involvement in the disappearance of Mantimakhulu’s sster-in-law. Relatives accused Mantimakhulu of ritually murdering his sister-in-law, using her body parts for ‘muti’ purposes. It’s election time in Swaziland, hence people fear ‘muti murders’ by ambitious politicians who sometimes hire other people to do the dirty work.
After all, recently, “(…) his Majesty the King (…)warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.”
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers were heavily beaten and tortured. The soldiers tried to extract a confession. It all happened last month. It’s a frightening story about the abuse of power by law enforcement officiers. It turned out later, that Mantimakhulu’s sister-in-law was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives.
It is not known what happened to those who were responsible for torturing Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers. The rule of law in the kingdom of King Mswati III leaves a lot to be desired…. (FVDK)
Swaziland / Eswatini: Soldiers torture man accused of ritual murder
Published: August 5, 2023 By: Joseph Zulu – Times of Swaziland
MAFUCULA – When his sister-in-law vanished, Msombuluko Mantimakhulu had no idea that her disappearance would leave him with injuries all over his body.
Mantimakhulu, who works in South Africa (SA), had returned to his home area around Mafucula, but it is alleged that his sister-in-law then disappeared. It was gathered that her in-laws did not know where she had gone, but feared that she had been murdered. He said some of the relatives were of the view that because it was general elections time, maybe she had been kidnapped and then killed for ritual purposes. They allegedly accused him of killing his sister-in-law for body parts. Mantimakhulu said some of the family members were of the view that he was involved in her disappearance. He said he did not have a reason to kill his sister-in-law, because they were close and that he sometimes even gave her some money.
According to Mantimakhulu, trouble started when the matter was first reported to the local community police that a woman was missing. He said when the community police were called, they picked up two teenagers who are said to be Mantimakhulu’s cousins. Mantimakhulu alleged the community police members assaulted the two teenagers, so as to force a confession from them. He alleged they beat the children then also handcuffed them to keep them from running away. “It is not right to handcuff children,” he said. The children are alleged to have been tortured for over an hour, demanding that they reveal who killed the woman.
When Mantimakhulu was asked why the teenagers were accused of killing the woman, he said he did not understand why but that he was the target. He said they wanted to force the children to confess that he was the one who had killed his sister-in-law. He said as if the assault was not enough, the men allegedly took the children to a nearby pond where they were assaulted. Mantimakhulu said the community police members then allegedly dipped the children’s into the pond and threatened that they would drown them.
Mantimakhulu alleged that the children’s heads were held under the water and threatened that they would be drowned if they did not reveal who killed the woman who was missing. He purported that after realising that they were not getting any answers from the children being assaulted, the police from Tshaneni Police Post were called in. He said police officers also arrived to investigate the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom at the time, it was alleged she had been murdered.
He alleged that after he was suspected of having killed his sister- in-law, the matter was then reported to the police. Mantimakhulu said police officers from Tshaneni were called, and that they went to interview him over the allegedly missing woman. However, unlike the community police members, the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) officers are said to have refused to arrest Mantimakhulu and then left, leaving him at the homestead in Mafucula, around a place known as Duma.
Mantimakhulu then said after some of the family members noticed that the police officers had left without arresting him, they then decided to call some soldiers who are said to be based around Maphiveni near Simunye. It is alleged that about four soldiers then pounced on Mantimakhulu on July 27, 2023, at around noon. Mantimakhulu said when the soldiers arrived, he told them that the police officers had already spoken to him and that they left him behind because they did not believe that he had murdered his sister-in-law.
However, the soldiers are said to have responded that they were not like police officers. He said the soldiers told him that police officers do not want to work. Mantimakhulu said before they began assaulting him, they told him that by the time they left, they would make sure that he revealed how he allegedly killed his sister-in-law. “I told them I am not a killer, but they did not want to hear my side of the story,” said Mantimakhulu. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers then began to assault him and that they hit him all over his body. He alleged that he was kicked, and then forced to confess that he had killed his sister-in-law. “I refused to agree to something I did not do,” he said. He mentioned that he was punched, kicked with boots and blunt objects, but he could not tell what they were using to assault him.
He said he was then taken to a nearby lake, where he was allegedly submerged into the water so that he did not come up, out of the water. “I felt like I was drowning,” he said. He said one soldier who pressed against his body with foot while another would press against his head while being held under the water. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers continued assaulting him for several hours. He said no matter how many times he cried for them to stop, they continued assaulting him until they stopped when they realised that he had not killed anyone.
He also revealed that before they began to assault him, they warned some of the nearby residents against taking videos of the alleged assault. antimakhulu said they used vulgar language, as they assaulted him, demanding that he should reveal what he did to his sister-in-law. It turned out later, that the woman was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives. Mantimakhulu said his sister-in-law had left without telling anyone because there were some disputes at their home. He was also asked why some of the family members suspected that he had killed her. He said he did not know the reason but that it could be that they found some fencing material belonging to her in his house. He said maybe with this information, they could have concluded that he had killed her and taken some of her fencing material.
“I have no reason to kill the woman,” he said. Sipho Mngomezulu, an uncle to Mantimakhulu said he was shocked at the manner in which his nephew was treated. He alleged the soldiers beat him as if they were killing him. Mngomezulu also alleged that the matter was reported to the police but that they had not taken any action to arrest the soldiers. Meanwhile, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, speaking through Inspector Mazwi Ndzimandze said the assault had not been reported to the police at Tshaneni. Also, Ndzimandze said there was also no case of a woman reported to have gone missing, but was later found alive.
Mantimakhulu, when told that the police said they were not aware of his assault, said this was not true. He said instead they allegedly told him they would not be able to arrest the soldiers. Mantimakhulu said the police told him that soldiers always protected each other and they would not handover their colleagues to be arrested by the police. Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo, the Public Relations Officer for the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) was called regarding the alleged assault by the soldiers who are based at the Maphiveni unction, leading to Tshanenini, Simunye or Lomahahsa. She had not responded to the questions sent to her at the time of compiling the report.
Khumalo was also asked if there was any means members of the public in such circumstances could report if they were not treated fairly. Noteworthy, Mantimakhulu insisted that both matters had been reported to the police and that officers from Tshaneni Police Station even interviewed him about his sister-in-law when it had been alleged that she was nowhere to be found, that she may have been killed.
Meanwhile, his Majesty the King, in his speech during the Correctional Day and Pass-out Parade warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.
King Mswati III has warned the nation against ritual murders committed by those who hope to be elected into parliament. He added that the disappearance of the elderly, children and people with albinism must stop. King Mswati III said this during the 15th Correctional Services Day.
Swaziland / eSwatini: King Mswati III warns against ritual murders
Published: August 6, 2023 By: Sifiso Nhlabatsi – Eswatini Observer
His Majesty King Mswati III has warned the nation against ritual murders committed by those who hope to be elected into parliament.
He said now that elections were underway, the disappearance of the elderly children and people with albinism must stop, as there were people who kill others with the hope that they would have luck in winning political positions.
His Majesty said this during the 15th Correctional Services Day, which also marked the passing-out parade of 372 trainees.
He warned that those committing such atrocities would face the full wrath of the law and end up being guests of the correctional services.
“People cannot get into parliament by killing others,” His Majesty stated. He urged the public to make sure that they work with law enforcement agencies to curb this practice. He added that there was a need to address this cancer because it affected the core fabric of society. “We must live in harmony with each other.
“The violence against women and children is a cause for concern. We implore the correctional services to fully rehabilitate such offenders to reduce the chances of them relapsing into the same behaviour of crime and this goes well with today’s theme,” His Majesty stated.
When addressing the issue of inmates and elections, His Majesty said given that offenders were an integral part of society, they will return to their respective communities after completing their sentences.
He said it was in this vein that offenders were also allowed to register for the national elections, so that they can exercise their democratic right to vote for their preferred candidates to represent them in parliament.
The King said rehabilitation of offenders was a societal responsibility where the nation and the Correctional Services were expected to work hand in hand with society in ensuring that recidivism was eradicated completely.
“This process will ensure the safety of the public from criminal elements and also give an opportunity to offenders to build their characters and correct their criminal behaviour to regain the trust of their communities,” the King stated.
Stay true to oath, do not be misled – King orders
The new recruits who passed-out yesterday have been strongly warned by His Majesty King Mswati III to maintain integrity and core values as they go about their duties and refrain from behaviour that will put the Correctional services badge into disrepute.
His Majesty said the theme for the day was ‘ensuring a corrections dispensation responsive to inherent emerging socio-security challenges’.
He said to live up to this theme, it was important that the Correctional Services personnel were well equipped to respond to the day-to-day challenges.
“There is more that you must learn from officers on the ground and ahead of you, who have acquired experience over the years,” His Majesty stated.
He said the nation noted and commended these officers for their selfless contribution and patriotic service whenever they were called upon to provide services as part of the security cluster in the country. He said government was also impressed with the commitment and dedication they always displayed when assigned to national duties.
“Correctional officers, your contribution in maintaining peace and stability in the country is appreciated,” he said.
He said the oath of service, discipline and loyalty should be the officers’ driving force. He said they needed to make good choices about life and avoid any misleading voices full of deceit. The officers were warned that they should be guided by the oath of service throughout their career, whether on-duty or them 24/7.
He said professionalism and integrity were the virtues of a good officer, which must be maintained at all times to improve the image of the department and the public perception about the officers’ work. “I commend the Correctional Services for extending various services and support to the nation.
We have heard that Emaswati are receiving professional health services from your health facilities,” His Majesty stated. He said this gesture was highly appreciated because it was in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which called for healthcare services to be in close proximity to the people.
He said such help was essential because a healthy nation is highly productive. “Furthermore, many Emaswati have benefited immensely from the various trades that you offer to the members of the public,” he said.
Referring to my posting yesterday, focusing on King Mswati’s (prudent) condemnation of the increase in ritualistic murders in his kingdom where elections will be held later this year, I am now adding similar remarks made by Deputy National Commissioner of Police, Shadrack Simelane, during a Crime Prevention campaign held in Hlatikulu town last Wednesday.
It is interesting to note that the Deputy National Commissioner condemned the ritual murders usually associated with the elections due to ill-conceived beliefs and practices (among other issues). (FVDK).
Nation urged te respect human life – Deputy National Commissioner of Police Shadrack Simelane
Published: August 6, 2023 By: Swaziland Observer
Emaswati seem to have lost the sanctity and respect of human life as more lives continue to be lost through acts of violence.
These were sentiments of Deputy National Commissioner – Shadrack Simelane, during a Crime Prevention campaign held in Hlatikulu town last Wednesday. Simelane who was representing the national commissioner of police, said crimes like murder were on the rise and it is a cause for concern.
He noted that Hlatikulu was a small area and statistics of violent crimes such as murder were alarming. Statistics indicate that between January 2022 and June 2023 at least 17 cases of murder have been recorded while 18 attempted murder incidents were investigated.
Simelane said, “It should be our collective resolve to strive for tolerance and confidence in the power of dialogue whenever a dispute arises.” He cautioned against the tendency of taking the law into one’s hands as it was not a solution but, only served as a path towards self-destruction and irreparable harm. He condemned the issue of ritual murders usually associated with the elections due to ill-conceived beliefs and practices.
Disorder The deputy national commissioner stated that crime, road carnage and social disorder problems are a threat in the country as they continue causing fear in the community. It does not only affect the quality of life among the nation, but also threatens the success and sustainability of socio-economic environment in the country.
He further stated that the police service has noted with concern an upward trend in certain crimes around Hlatikulu and surrounding areas which are posing a challenge and causing sleepless nights to the organisation.
Simelane noted that gender-based violence crimes continue to be a thorny issue as it reported with high frequency, both in urban and rural communities. He urged members of cthe public to report such criminal activity as it has severe implications on the survivors.
Between January last year and June 2023, in Hlatikulu and surrounding areas at least 82 rape cases were reported to the police. He said in such cases community and family participation is critical as the police cannot make headway without their support. He discouraged the notion of ‘tibi tendlu’ as this was a breeding ground for GBV cases.
The deputy national commissioner also expressed concern on the number of accidents that have occurred along the Yithi Abantu Highway. He stated that the number of lives lost in road accidents was worrying.
Road safety stakeholders were encouraged to join hands in finding ways that will help in the reduction and elimination of these accidents. Statistics indicate that from January 2022 to June 2023, 15 fatalities have occurred along the kaMdabula and Mehlwabovu stretch, while there were 30 serious accidents reported within the same period.
Statistics indicate that a high number of victims in these accidents are pedestrians. He said it was important that all road users be extra cautions along the problematic areas of this road. He urged all road users to show respect to one another and give each other equal opportunities on the road to avoid accidents.
“Road users are reminded to always respect rules of the road and they need to apply safety measures all times to avoid being victims of accidents” said Simelane.
The deputy national commissioner further encouraged community members to establish neighbourhood watch schemes to bring crime under control within the community. He advised all residents to practices honest-citizen habits, which involve desisting from buying/dealing in stolen property but, rather report those selling items suspected to be stolen. He said the police service continued to introduce strategies and interventions that would contribute towards the elimination of crime in the country.
“As the police service we continue to strengthen our mechanisms in a bid to clamp down on crime. This is done through, among other, interventions intensive public sensitisation through our community safety officers, who do public capacitation in communities, schools, faith-based forums including establishing and training community police.”
Simelane commended traditional leaders for the important role that they play in the fight against crime, stating that the police service was always appreciative of the relationship it has with the community. He also expressed the organization’s appreciation to all stakeholders and sponsors who supported the Hlatikulu Crime Prevention event.
It is not the first time that election campaigns are accompanied by a rising number of ritual murders – or ‘muti murders’, as they are called in Southern Africa. Already in a previous posting, on June 19, 2018 I drew attention to the link between elections and ritual killings in this country.
Swaziland (eSwatini) has a long history of ritual murders. In the recent past, in 2003, King Mswati III urged Swaziland’s politicians not to engage in ritual killings to boost their chances in the general elections later that year. Five years later then Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini warned aspiring members of parliament against committing ritual murders to win the vote. In my 2018 posting I revealed that nothing had changed for the better. For briefness sake I further refer to my 2018 posting.
When will it end? What’s the use of repeated warnings? Isn’t it a crazy situation, we’re in the third millennium, and superstition is still rife in a country where democratic elections are being organized.
However, the democratic nature of elections in eSwatini / Swaziland is not what one would expect. Past elections in the kingdom where king Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, have been characterized by a lack of transparency whereas according to Wikipedia the full results of both the 2018 and 2013 elections have never been published. (FVDK)
Swaziland: King Mswati III frowns at rising number of ritual murders
Published: July 16, 2023 By: NKOSINGIPHILE MYENI , Swaziland Observer
His Majesty King Mswati III is disheartened by the rising number of cruel deaths occurring around the country.
Most of the deaths were those that seemed to be ritually associated as were described as the worst kind of evil.
This was shared yesterday through the King’s representative, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane, in one of the biggest prayer services in the country.
The national prayer for the national elections brought together church leaders from the three church mother bodies, being the Council of Swaziland Churches, Conference of Churches and the League of Churches.
There were also other Cabinet ministers, church members of different denominations as well as members of the public.
Rendering his speech, the prince shared a story in the Bible in Genesis 6 verse 6 whereby God showed His regret by creating a person and further said that He was grieving in his heart by the evil that people do.
The King said in just a short space of time spine-chilling deaths have been reported whereby he further depicted the cruelty with which the victims died.
He first referred to an incident which occurred early in the month at Nkoneni in the Shiselweni region whereby the body of a 26-year-old woman was found with multiple stab wounds, her eyes gouged out and her throat slit.
“Let me just point out to two or three of these in the country. Such cruelty Maswati! If you wonder why God is regretful about a person, again just recently, a boy went out from his home to buy goats but he was stabbed and killed.
“His throat was cut while he was alive and could feel it. They placed a tyre on him, doused him with petrol and set him alight,” he said while narrating that it was not only the events that were seen on television that showed cruelty.
He added, “The God of love saw the evil in people on earth. He saw that their hearts and thoughts were evil and regretted why he created them.
Tense This may seem like a past tense but God forever regrets why he created a person, why? because of their sins.”
The King went further and referred to another incident. He said in Malkerns just this week, another man was found dead with stab wounds as well as a slit throat.
He did not spare femicide whereby he said such cases were widely reported in the media. According to the United Nations (UN) Women, femicide is a hate crime which is broadly defined as the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.
“In our nation we read in the newspapers that men kill women with cruelty. They kill their wives, girlfriends and have also started killing their own children. “Therefore, we are here to pray for elections so that they go smoothly,” he said.
Referring to other countries during elections, the King said violence was also rife whereby he said it was common to hear that political parties fight one another to the extent that people are shot and assassinated while others have their houses burnt.
In a recently released document of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks, it is being reported that “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.
In the document, 19 Sub-Sahara African countries are mentioned as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, ritual attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.
The 19 SSA countries are scattered across the continent and it is believed – in view of the scarcity of data – that the cases which have come to light only constitute the tip of the iceberg.
It goes without saying that there is no place in the 21st century for these practices and crimes.
Warning: Some readers may find the following story disturbing (webmaster FVDK).
Cult-related attacks against children still occur in at least 19 SSA countries
Published: June 2, 2022 By: LUSA – Macau Business dot com
Angola is the only Portuguese-speaking African country mentioned in a report released on Wednesday by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) on the practice of ritual attacks against children.
In the document, “Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks”, presented Tuesday in a video conference from Addis Ababa, “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.
ACPF executive director Joan Nyanyuki argues in the introduction that “across the African continent, much has been done to improve laws and policies aimed at ending violence against children.”
“Some progress has been made in establishing the systems and structures needed to implement and enforce these policies and laws. These efforts, however, have not sufficiently addressed an important dimension of violence against children: accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks,” it adds.
In the document, 19 countries are referenced as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.
“The report documents, to the extent possible in light of the scarcity of data, how widespread accusations of witchcraft are across the continent (although they vary in extent over time and from place to place). Best estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of children face accusations every year in Africa and subsequently suffer serious violations.”
Examples given by the document point to reported cases of ritual infanticide in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Niger, while Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Essuatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have reported ritual attacks on children with disabilities.
Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania have reported attacks on children with albinism and in South Africa, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania cases of violence against children accused of being witches are reported.
“To protect children from the harm of witchcraft accusations, it is not necessary to deny that ‘witchcraft’ exists. Instead, it is important to prioritise child protection while preventing child abuse by addressing the belief that such abuse can somehow protect communities from perceived danger,” the document argues.
The research that resulted in the report found that with the exception of work done by some non-governmental organisations, “few organisations and states in Africa make systematic efforts to prevent such abuse”.
“Few prohibit accusations. Services for children who have suffered harm and violence related to accusations are few and far between. This area needs urgent attention,” argues the report.
Joan Nyanyuki argues “a comprehensive and coordinated effort by state and non-state actors is needed to uncover the nature, magnitude and impact of violence related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. This approach will ensure that child protection systems, laws and policies are enhanced to adequately address these forms of violence against children.”
Saving Africa’s Witch Children (dated June 22, 2009) reporting on how thousands of small children in Nigeria are branded witches. The web page also contains a large number of news reports and articles (2005-2009) including websites of organizations fighting against these cruel and illegal practices.
I wish to commend Leo Igwe for his tireless efforts to end these cruel, criminal and senseless practices. The world and Africa in general need more Leo Igwe’s to condemn and end ritualistic murders on the continent (webmaster FVDK).
Nothing like ‘money rituals’, ritual killers are killing in vain – Nigerian human rights advocate Leo Igwe
The leader of the Nigerian human rights group reacts to the recently reported arrest of suspected ritualists in the Boluwaji area of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Published: September 24, 2021 By: SaharaReporters, New York
The Nigerian Humanist Movement has urged Nigerians to stop believing they can get rich or become wealthy through the killing of fellow citizens for money rituals.
NHM, a group that advocates the principles of humanism, urged Nigerians to understand that the notion of ritual money and wealth is completely baseless and invalid.
The rights group was reacting to the recently reported arrest of suspected ritualists in the Boluwaji area of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Reports emerged during the week that members of the Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun had arrested suspected ritualists, who were in possession of the body parts of a 73-year-old man.
The suspects, during interrogations, had told operatives of the security outfit that a Muslim cleric, whom they identified as Alfa Salam Salam, asked them to get some human body parts for rituals.
But in an interview with SaharaReporters on Thursday, NHM, through its National Director, Leo Igwe, said irrational conceptions of how to make money or become wealthy and successful often lead to killing of innocent people in vain.
“I don’t think there is any way the claim ritual money is validated, at least in a way that can be confirmed by a third party.
“For example, if you want to make money using human body parts. Do you want to make it in naira, or dollars or pounds or euros? Actually, if it is true that you really want to make money through rituals, why are Nigerians not making money in these foreign currencies that I mentioned that have more value than naira if we are to go by that. That’s number one.
“Number two. We know very well that the Central Bank or an affiliated bank agency is responsible for printing currencies and they come with specific numbers. In other words, if we have to account for the money these people say they are making through rituals, where are they getting the numbers that tally with what is in circulation?
“Let assume you go and bring it from the vault of First Bank, what happens to that branch where the money disappears from? What happens to the Branch Manager? Are they not going to account for it? If that’s the case, you know how many branch managers of banks would be crying out every day that money has disappeared?
“We have not heard from any of these commercial banks that they are looking for money. Now, even if it disappears, how are we not going to probe the way that it was stolen?”
Igwe further argued there is a possibility of people stealing public money and hanging it around a money ritual that does not exist.
“My point is that let’s put all these superstitions aside and accept that some people actually steal to make money and tie it around money rituals. People can actually make money by conniving with bank officials in a way we don’t know and start flaunting it that they did money rituals. It doesn’t make sense!
“So what am I trying to say? It doesn’t make sense at all. It is important for us to begin to openly challenge this claim. The reason is that our young people are dying. Honestly, I’m in pain. I’m not joking. When I see how young men are killing their fathers, mothers, and relatives in the name of rituals for money, I cry because it is an illusion.
“It is baseless and does not exist anywhere. Instead of providing them with evidence-based ways of making money, they will tell them to go and bring the heads of their family members,” he added.
The reader is being warned that the following articles contain graphic details of the kidnapping and murder of a young girl with albinism, Gabisile Shabane, who was killed for her body parts. The gruesome crime took place in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) in South Africa in January 2018. The kidnapping of the young innocent girl of only 13 years old and her gruesome fate not only shocked the residents of Witbank, as illustrated by the tweet below, but shocked the entire nation and was widely covered in the press, as illustrated by the news articles below describing the related events in the past three years (2018-2021).
I reported earlier on the murder of Gabisile Shabane, who was abducted together with her 15-months old cousin: on April 30, 2018 (South Africa: ‘Fake sangoma murderers’ target albino body parts for rituals) and August 23, 2019 (South African teacher admits to killing teen with albinism for ritual purposes). Again, I wish to commend the South African authorities for their swift action to apprehend and prosecute the suspects and also I wish to congratulate the press in South Africa for its extensive coverage of this important trial. Only by raising the awareness of the general public that these crimes have no place in the 21st century and a stiff warning to traditional healers, sangomas and others that their criminal acts will no longer remain unpunished can we end these barbaric crimes against humanity and the violation of peoples’ most sacred human rights: the right to live. (webmaster FVDK).
South Africa: Blood of murdered girl with albinism used for ‘cleansing’, says state witness
Published: October 11, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A state witness has given shocking testimony in the trial of three men implicated in the murder of Gabisile Shabane, a young girl with albinism from Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) who was abducted and murdered in January 2018, allegedly for her body parts.
The three accused are Thokozani Msibi — a traditional healer originally from Eswatini who lived and practised in Emalahleni and the alleged mastermind behind the plot — Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize.
A fourth accused, Mfanasibili Gamedze, died behind bars while waiting to be extradited to SA from Eswatini, while a fifth accused, Josiah Thubane, pleaded guilty to his part in the murder in 2019. He is already serving his sentence.
The state witness, who is not being named and is under witness protection, was present when Shabane was murdered, dismembered and buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan, near Pretoria.
TimesLIVE is referring to him as Mr X.
Delivering his testimony to the high court sitting in Middelburg, Mr X said he was there when Shabane was forced to drink a beer laced with brake fluid and also some dagga before her killing. Mr X said he had taken part in rituals which were performed using Shabane’s body parts and blood.
Mr X had begun delivering his testimony last week. Continuing on Monday, he told the court his version of the events that unfolded at a farm in Cullinan when Shabane was killed and buried.
“Mr Msibi closed the hole [shallow grave where Shabane was buried] while Mr Gamedze was busy with the plastic which contained the parts. It was then that Msibi said now is the time for us to do a cleansing ritual on ourselves,” Mr X told the court.
“I was told that it was time for me to cleanse, so my mom could get well and all our things could go OK. We then all took off our clothes. We cleansed with the contents of the bucket.”
The bucket had contained a mixture of muthi, water and Shabane’s blood. Msibi took some muthi and sprinkled it onto the grave, speaking some words as he did this.
Mr X told the court that after dressing, as they were walking back to a house on the farm, Msibi stopped them and said, “Men, can everything that has happened here stay between us — no matter what the situation is, it should be kept between us.”
“He was referring to the killing of Gabisile and the removal of her body parts. He pleaded with me and also made reference to Mkhize [who allegedly had driven them from Witbank after Gabisile’s abduction], saying that even though we did not partake [in the killing], we should keep this secret to ourselves,” said Mr X.
“I promised him that I would never disclose anything. He said if we ever spoke about this, we would get to see the full might of his muthi.”
On the way back to the house, they covered their tracks and used soil to cover some blood spatter from Shabane that had been shed along the way.
Mr X said he had dug three holes and covered them again, which he hoped would act as a decoy to ensure that Shabane’s body would never be found.
The men went back to the house, where Mr X cooked a meal for them to eat. Mr X said it was during this time that he had told Msibi that he needed to go back to Witbank because he was working from 2pm. He was employed at a petrol station.
“He said I should stop complaining and that there was no need for me to go back to my work because from then on, I was rich,” Mr X told the court.
Mkhize, who had earlier left the men at the farm, returned with plates of takeaway food, gave it to Mr X, Mkhize and Gamedze. They then packed their belongings, including a bucket that had contained the plastic bag with the body parts and a maroon traditional cloth, into the car.
They headed back to Witbank, where the men resided, but along the way an argument ensued.
“An argument ensued after Msibi said to Mkhize that my ugly face shouldn’t fool him into believing I was brave, because I had been so afraid and would not even come close when they were dismembering the body.
“I asked Mkhize whether he would have gone to that scene. He replied that I should ask Msibi what he did in Cape Town,” said Mr X, suggesting that he was capable of it.
“Mkhize made comments and asked what am I good at in life because I can’t even drive. This resulted in silence in the car. We proceeded with our journey back to Witbank. On our drive, Msibi opened the window and began speaking out that he is summoning all the sick to come to his place of practice.”
Mr X said once they reached Witbank, he headed to his brother’s house, leaving Gamedze and Msibi behind. Mkhize left the men at Msibi’s house and also went home.
Mr X was asked to elaborate on how he knew the second accused in the matter, Mhlanga. He told the court that he had met Mhlanga with Mkhize one morning after he had knocked off from work.
“I went to Msibi’s house and found accused two there with other guys. They were travelling in a sky-blue Hyundai ix35. Msibi had called me to come and join them, saying they were having a traditional steam and had been steaming throughout the night. I went to take off my uniform and returned to the place where they were.
“I found them sitting in the indumba [traditional hut where healing and consultation is done]. They were speaking into emptied pumpkins while they steamed. They were talking [about] their dreams and wishes into these hollowed out pumpkins. That is all I know about him.
“Msibi once made mention of him in the past, referring to him as Knowledge, saying he is organising for him to get an albino in the Mhlanga area,” said Mr X.
Continuing his testimony, Mr X explained how days later, the police had descended on the premises where Msibi had practised. On this particular day, Msibi and another man had come to the garage and Mr X had asked for a lift from them back home. He said upon entering the vehicle, he was met by a putrid smell. When he opened the window, Msibi would close it.
“When we were about to arrive close to Msibi’s house, I asked if I could get out. We could see a lot of police there. Police were searching his yard and indumba. He went there and joined them and I watched from the street. They didn’t search his car and left soon thereafter,” Mr X said.
Mr X said a few days later, he went to Msibi’s place to ask about what the police had wanted.
“On the smell in the car — Msibi said it was because they had been to Cullinan to fetch the body of the child [that day]. It was because they had been told by a traditional healer from KwaZulu-Natal that the rituals they had done would not work … The healer had said he wanted the skull of the child [to make their ritual work] and they went there to fetch the body and the rest of the skull.”
He told the court that on the day of the police search, they had neglected to search the car which had contained the girl’s body. Msibi said this was proof of the power of his muthi, he said.
Mr X was arrested and soon thereafter turned state witness, giving a voluntary statement where he confessed to his part in the killing.
Shabane was taken at gunpoint along with her 15-month-old nephew, Nkosikhona, from their home in Hlalanikahle in January 2018.
Nkosikhona had been mistaken for another child with albinism living in the same home. When the abductors discovered their mistake, they tossed his body over a bridge along the N4. His decomposing body was found in a swamp. (Also see below, February 21, 2018 – webmaster FVDK)
More background reports on the ritual murder of Gabisile Shabane
Warning: Some readers may find the following articles disturbing because of their graphic contents (webmaster FVDK)
Albinism muti trial: Traditional healer’s second defence lawyer quits
Published: March 3, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Whatever came out during consultations between a Legal Aid lawyer and the man alleged to have plotted and carried out the butchering of Gabisile Shabane was enough to make the lawyer make a U-turn on representing him in the case.
Shabane, a 13-year-old girl from Emalahleni (Witbank) with albinism, was kidnapped at gunpoint together with her 15-month-old nephew, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, from her family home in January 2018.
Her body was mutilated and some of her organs, including her genitals, ovaries, arms and head, were removed. Her killing was believed to have been muti-related.
Ngwenya was dumped in a swamp next to the N4 highway.
On Wednesday, following a two-hour consultation with traditional healer Thokozani Msibi, lawyer Werner Smit told the high court sitting in Middelburg that his mandate with Msibi had been terminated. He would not disclose the reasons for this.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni expressed his frustration.
Mpolweni told the court this was not the first time Msibi had changed a Legal Aid lawyer.
He said he was not sure whether this was a tactic being used by Msibi to delay the proceedings, adding that Legal Aid may not have another lawyer to offer him.
Judge Heinrich Brauckmann granted Smit’s application for withdrawal.
Msibi maintained he had not fired Smit.
“The first attorney I had, I did not terminate his mandate. At the last proceedings, he said he would attend to me after he had assisted someone else but he never came back to me,” said Msibi.
“With Mr Smit, I never terminated his mandate. We were just disagreeing on facts. I tell him this and he tells me something else. He is the one who I said he should tell the court he is not going to proceed with assisting me,” Msibi told the court.
Brauckmann said he hoped Msibi was not taking chances with the court.
“I am not going to take games. We are here to find the truth but if you are going to play games, this court is not going to take it,” he warned Msibi.
Outside court, a string of witnesses, including Gabisile’s mother and her sister, who is the mother of Nkosikhona, and a group of people from far as Swaziland had been waiting and hoping the matter would proceed.
Part of the prosecution team’s frustration stemmed from the fact that the witnesses from Swaziland had initially been scheduled to take the stand this week and return to their home country by Friday. The case, however, was postponed to Friday when it would be known whether Msibi would be granted another lawyer.
Mpolweni told the court Legal Aid had said the first two lawyers granted to him were his right but a third would simply be a privilege.
On Monday, the trial had also been delayed, but this was because the vehicle transporting Msibi to the court from Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria had broken down 40km from the court.
Msibi is an integral part in solving Shabane’s murder. Some of her body parts were allegedly found at his home days after she went missing.
He is set to be trialled alongside two other men, Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize.
Another accused, Mfanasibili Gamedze, who like Msibi was originally from Swaziland, has since died. Gamedze was being held in police custody in Swaziland and died while awaiting extradition back to SA. The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately disclosed but are expected to be addressed during the trial.
This matter has already seen two men jailed.
The first was Sabelo Khubeka. At the height of the search for Shabane and her nephew, after their disappearance in 2018, Khubeka had lied about having knowledge of the whereabouts of the children. He tried to extort money from their family when he demanded a ransom. He was traced to Vosloorus, arrested and upon questioning found to have no clue about the missing children. He was jailed for five years.
The second is Josiah Thubane, a qualified teacher-turned-struggling businessman. Thubane, who claimed to be haunted by his deeds, confessed to his part in killing Shabane, admitting it was a muti killing. He had allegedly been told that getting the body parts of a person with albinism could assist in boosting his struggling business.
He pleaded guilty on all charges, including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse. He was handed two life terms for the killings.
Thubane said Ngwenya was an unintentional casualty in the matter. The 15-month-old was mistaken for another child in Shabane’s home who also had albinism. Once they had noticed their error in taking Ngwenya, he was dumped over a bridge on the N4 where he drowned in a river.
Shabane and Ngwenya’s bodies were found on February 20 2018.
Ngwenya’s body had already decomposed in the water. The post-mortem report said “no anatomical cause of death found”.
With Shabane, her post-mortem report concluded “cannot [be] determined” because of her missing organs.
Accused in case of murdered teen with albinism dies before trial
Published: March 1, 2021 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
One of the people implicated in the murder of Emalahleni (Witbank) teenager Gabisile Shabane and her cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya has died before going on trial.
“There was a fourth accused who we were hoping and praying we could extradite from Swaziland. But his counsel has since indicated that he passed on. He is the fourth accused in the matter,” said prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni.
The circumstances surrounding Gamedze’s death were not immediately disclosed but are expected to be addressed during the trial.
Only two of the remaining three accused stood in the dock on Monday.
Mpolweni told the court the vehicle which had been transporting Thokozani Msibi to court from Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria had broken down about 40km from court.
Proceedings were postponed in his absence, with a new trial start date set for Wednesday.
Msibi, a traditional healer, was believed to be the mastermind behind the killing of Shabane. Some of her body parts were found at his home. Like Gamedze, he was originally from Swaziland but has since resided and practised in Emalahleni.
The other accused are Knowledge Wezi Mhlanga and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize, both from Emalahleni.
This matter has already seen two men jailed. The first was Sabelo Khubeka. At the height of the search for Shabane and her nephew, after their disappearance in 2018, Khubeka had lied about having knowledge of the whereabouts of the children. He tried to extort money from their family as he demanded a ransom.
At the time, Brig Leonard Hlathi said a team investigating the matter turned their focus to tracking down Khubeka who was traced to Vosloorus in Gauteng. He was arrested and upon questioning found to have no clue about the missing children. He was jailed for five years.
The second is Josiah Thubane, a qualified teacher-turned-struggling businessman. Thubane, who claimed to be haunted by his deeds, confessed to his part in killing Shabane, admitting it was a muti killing.
He pleaded guilty on all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse. He was handed two life terms for the killings.
He clarified that Ngwenya was an unintentional casualty in the matter. The 15-month-old was mistaken for another child in Shabane’s home who also had albinism.
Once they had noticed their error in taking Ngwenya, he was dumped over a bridge on the N4 where he drowned in a river.
The state’s case is that Thubane had been introduced to the so-called powerful muti-man Msibi by Mhlanga, along with his business partner.
Thubane and his business partner were accompanied by Mhlanga to go for a consultation with Msibi. At the time, Gamedze was also present.
In his confession, Thubane told the court he was advised by Msibi to bring him a person with albinism to boost his struggling rental property business.
Msibi had known of Gabisile and another child living in the same home who had albinism and apparently informed them of this.
Thubane, Mhlanga, Msibi and Gamedze later met to hash out and execute the kidnapping plan. They broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle in January 2018, pointed firearms at the family and fled with the children.
Gabisile’s body was later found in a shallow grave in Cullinan, Pretoria. Several of her body parts, including her genitals, heart, liver and left arm had been dismembered.
Delivering her judgment back in 2019, judge Segopotje Mphahlele said the crimes were clearly planned.
“He admitted that when they finally found the children, he … knew his dream of having a flourishing business was about to be realised,” she said of Thubane.
Mphahlele said the children had suffered a gruesome death at the hands of unscrupulous men who were blinded by greed and the love of money.
“People living with albinism face discrimination and stigma. They face a more severe form of violence. The attacks have several root causes, including ignorance, long-standing stigma and the most disgusting is the harmful practices emanating from manifestations in some beliefs in witchcraft,” ruled Mphahlele.
On counts of housebreaking and kidnapping, Thubane was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each. On the double murder charges, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for each and to three years for possession of a firearm.
The now deceased Gamedze had also played in integral part in Shabane’s killing. She had been kept at his home after her kidnapping and it is believed that it was he, Msibi and another person, Thulani Thobela, who butchered the girl.
Thobela turned state witness after his arrest.
The state says that after Shabane was dismembered and buried, Msibi had performed rituals on Mhlanga, Mkhize — their driver, Thubane and his business partner Fantjie Khumalo.
Mkhize was alleged to have been brought on board after Shabane’s kidnapping.
Days later, Msibi, Gamedze and another national from Eswatini returned to the plot where Shabane’s body was buried in a shallow grave. This time, they removed her head and arms and reburied her in the same grave.
After an extensive search, Shabane and Ngwenya’s bodies were found on February 20 2018. Ngwenya’s body had already decomposed in the water. The postmortem report said: “no anatomical cause of death found”.
With Shabane, her postmortem report concluded “cannot [be] determined” because of her missing organs.
Double life sentence for teacher who killed teen with albinism for muti
Published: August 23, 2019 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A man with a degree in teaching who admitted to abducting and killing a teen living with albinism, believing the deed would boost his business, was handed two life sentences by a Mpumalanga court on Friday.
Themba Thubane appeared in the Middelburg High Court after pleading guilty to seven charges.
Thubane and accomplices broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga, in 2018.
The group kidnapped Gabisile Shabane, 13, and her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya. Both children were then killed and Gabisile’s body was later found with body parts missing. Her killing was muti-related.
Judge Segopotje Mphahlele said, in handing down judgment, that the crimes were clearly planned.
“The accused and … the others took a decision to travel to Witbank to the house where they could find a person living with albinism. [An accomplice] provided them with the layout of the house. They further knew that the people who were living in that house were the most vulnerable. It was an old lady, her daughter and some children,” she said.
Mphahlele revealed that an axe was used to break the windows to gain entry into the house. The judge said Thubane, in his plea, claimed he had forgotten some details of the robbery, but recalled some.
“He admitted that when they finally found the children, he … knew his dream of having a flourishing business was about to be realised,” she said.
Mphahlele said the children had suffered a gruesome death at the hands of unscrupulous men who were blinded by greed and the love of money.
“The people living with albinism face discrimination and stigma. They face a more severe form of violence.”
“The attacks have several root causes, including ignorance, longstanding stigma and the most disgusting is the harmful practices emanating from manifestations in some beliefs in witchcraft,” ruled Mphahlele.
On counts of house breaking and kidnapping, Thubane was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on each. On the double murder charges, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for each and three years for possession of a firearm.
Mphahlele said the behaviour of the accused showed a lack of remorse.
“The behaviour of the accused at all material times is indicative of the lack of repentance. Genuine remorse must be distinguished from self pity…” added Mphahlele.
Clapping and joyful cheers could be heard moments after the judgment was handed down.
Three co-accused have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020.
Teacher to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby
Published: August 20, 2019 By: Nonkululeko Njilo – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A teacher in Mpumalanga who admitted killing a teen who had albinism for muti, as well as her baby cousin, will soon learn how long he will spend behind bars.
Sentencing proceedings against Themba Thubane were expected to commence on Friday in the Middelburg high court.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that Thubane had pleaded guilty to seven charges.
Provincial NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the man admitted to killing Gabisile Shabane, 13, for muti purposes, along with her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
The two children were abducted from a home in Vosman near Emalahleni on 28 January 2018.
The toddler did not have albinism and was killed by drowning after being thrown into a river.
Police said in a statement the court heard through Thubane’s guilty plea that Gabisile was killed before being decapitated and chopped up for her body parts. Her remains were buried in a shallow grave at Cullinan in Gauteng.
Thubane’s co-accused, Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga, have pleaded not guilty and are expected to return to court on May 25, 2020. The case is set down until June 12. The trio remain in custody.
More than a year since their tragic ordeal, the family expressed relief at the commencement of sentencing proceedings.
In an interview with eNCA, family spokesperson Chantel Ngwenya said the delays had caused unbearable pain to the family.
“We’re really happy the trial has commenced because we have been waiting for a long time. The waiting was killing us as a family. We are happy even though the others did not admit to committing the crime. It’s painful to us, it shows that they are not remorseful for the pain they’ve caused us.”
On Thubane’s guilty plea, Ngwenya said: “We hope that we will be able to find closure from the one that admitted to committing the crime. To us it shows he is remorseful, he has a conscience inside him, he regrets it.”
The family hopes the sentence will take into account the immense pain caused to them by the killings.
Nine months after she was mutilated and killed‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane will finally be laid to rest
Published: October 11, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Almost nine months after being abducted from her home and killed for her body parts‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane who had albinism‚ will finally be laid to rest.
The Mpumalanga Community Security Department has announced that she and her one-year-old nephew Nkosikhona Ngwenya will be buried in Witbank next week.
Their burial had been delayed for months on end as DNA tests had yet to verify that the mutilated body parts found in different areas all belonged to Gabisile. The tests have since been concluded.
Gabisile’s headless body had been found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan‚ east of Pretoria. It was understood that some of her other parts were found in premises belonging to one of the accused in the matter‚ while Nkosikhona had been thrown into a swamp.
It is believed that the attackers had stormed into their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned Nkosikhona for another albino child who was in the house.
“Four suspects were arrested in February and were charged with kidnapping and murder‚” said department spokesman Joseph Mabuza.
Amongst those arrested is a traditional healer. During their bail application‚ the court had heard horrific details of how Gabisile was forced to drink brake fluid and beer and also smoke dagga shortly before her mutilation.
The suspects on Wednesday returned to the Witbank Magistrate’s Court‚ where their case was postponed to August 2019 for trial. They remain behind bars.
Meanwhile‚ Mpumalanga’s MEC of Community Security Pat Ngomane was on Thursday expected to unveil the Shabane home‚ which has been renovated to tighten security.
“During his visit to the family earlier this year‚ MEC Ngomane‚ the eMalahleni Local Municipality and some stakeholders such as Highveld Steel pledged to assist the family by enhancing the security features of their house in order to prevent further break-ins‚” said Mabuza.
“Through donations‚ the MEC and the stakeholders managed to refurbish the house. The roof of the house has been redone‚ the house plastered and painted and the floor tiled. A security wall and a gate have also been completed‚” he added.
‘Let’s burn this court!’ Outrage as alleged killers of albino girl is postponed again
Published: August 14, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Residents of Witbank expressed outrage on Tuesday after hearing the case against four men accused of abducting and killing an albino girl and her nephew was postponed yet again.
“Let’s burn this court!” the 150-strong crowed chanted as they gathered outside the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
The four accused appeared via satellite from the Witbank Correctional Services Centre‚ where they have been kept since their arrest.
Tensions flared outside the court behind the rolls of police tape used to keep the crowds away from the building.
“The family has stayed with a cloud of death over them for seven months and‚ according to our customs‚ this is not done‚” Taylor Pookgoadi‚ the district secretary of the SA Communist Party in Nkangala told the crowd of supporters.
While he‚ the family and scores of other supporters had arrived at the court hoping for the matter to commence‚ it became apparent that the matter was not quite ready for trial.
“It doesn’t seem like there will be much progress when we come back on October 10‚” Pookgoadi told the crowd. “We want the case to simply be moved to a bigger court.”
The case had been postponed after it was found that a fifth suspect was yet to be extradited from Swaziland‚ where he also faces other charges.
Also‚ the DNA results‚ which would determine if the body parts found in different locations were that of 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane‚ who had been mutilated‚ were yet to be obtained.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ was abducted with her.
It is believed that the attackers who had stormed their home in January and had mistaken the light-skinned toddler for another albino child who was in the house. His remains were found dumped in a swamp near the N4 highway.
Trudy Xhala-Mavimbela‚ from the office of the mayor‚ said the family had found themselves in a tricky situation because not all of Gabisile’s body parts had been found.
“We can’t bury them until the suspects [hand over] the rest of the body parts‚” Xhala- Mavimbela said.
“This matter has been dragging on since January. Government needs to speed things up so that the family can find peace. This has been traumatic for the family‚” she added‚ addressing the crowds.
On Tuesday‚ two of the alleged killers bowed their heads‚ avoiding contact with the camera that showed their faces to the court. The third beamed his bright smile as he saw the crowds of people seated in the court gallery‚ while the fourth accused simply stared straight forward.
Gabisile’s sister‚ the mother of Nkosikhona‚ stared at the screen‚ glaring at the men accused of taking her son and her sister’s life.
After proceedings‚ she‚ her mother and other relatives who had packed the court stood outside‚ where they briefly spoke to the media.
They expressed concern at the delay in the case.
“We are not happy with how things are progressing‚” said Sibongile Shabane.
They expressed their displeasure at how abruptly court proceedings had ended as one of the accused had raised his hand‚ requesting to speak to his lawyer.
The lawyer stepped out of the courtroom to give his client‚ who was at the prison‚ a call.
The matter was temporarily adjourned but minutes later the lawyer returned and left the court‚ leaving the court orderlies to explain that‚ as previously stated‚ the matter had simply been postponed to October.
Meanwhile‚ a source close to the family spoke to the trauma that the family faced as they frequently went to the mortuary to check on the corpses of the children‚ adding that the body parts were wilting away in the ice.
The worst part‚ however‚ was that even as court proceedings were scheduled to continue in October‚ there was no guarantee that the DNA tests would be ready and the bodies would be released for the burial‚ he said.
‘They know where her mom lives’ – Trio linked to murder of albino girl denied bail
Published: April 17, 2018 By: Tankiso Makhetha – TimesLIVE, South Africa
The three men accused of the kidnapping and murder of a 13-year-old girl with albinism have been denied bail in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
Thokozani Msibi‚ Brilliant Mkhize‚ Themba Thubane and Knowledge Mhlanga allegedly broke into the Shabane household in Hlalanikahle‚ Mpumalanga‚ on January 28‚ where they kidnapped and later murdered Gabisile Shabane and her 15-month-old cousin‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
Msibi was arrested in February and denied bail in the same court on March 6.
A fifth suspect‚ Thulani Thobela turned state witness following his arrest.
In an affidavit he drafted‚ Thobela alleged that Gabisile was kidnapped and murdered with the purpose of harvesting her body parts by Msibi‚ Thubane and Mhlanga.
Magistrate Darleen Venter said by granting bail to the trio‚ it could jeopardise investigations as Shabane’s missing body parts are yet to be discovered.
“Insofar as the intimidating witnesses‚ the court knows that the mother of the deceased‚ who is also an eyewitness in the matter‚ has been attending court proceedings and has been seen by the applicants. They know where she lives and that could endanger her life‚” Venter said.
“If indeed the applicants know where the remaining body parts are‚ they may go back and destroy them‚ rendering the state’s case weak and interfering with investigations.”
She said the applicants failed to show the court that the state’s case was weak in light of the evidence brought against them.
Venter postponed the matter until June 1 for further investigations.
It was heard in court that Thubane and Mhlanga‚ who allegedly run an illegal private college‚ sought the help of Msibi – traditional healer – in making their business flourish.
Shabane’s remains were found in a shallow grave in Cullinan‚ east of Pretoria‚ while Ngwenya was found on the side of the N4 Highway where he was dumped after being killed.
Three more suspects arrested for abduction, murder of Witbank children
Published: March 1, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Police have arrested three more people in connection with the kidnapping and murder of two children in Witbank‚ Mpumalanga.
The 13-year-old girl Gabisile Shabani was an albino and was believed to have been murdered for her body parts. Her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ was allegedly mistaken for another child from the same household who also has albinism.
The arrests happened on Wednesday‚ bringing the total number of suspects to four‚ said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi. He said the trio‚ Thulani Thobela‚ aged 26‚ Donie Cavin Boshielo‚ aged 22‚ and Mthobisi Brilliant Mkhize‚ aged 26‚ had already appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court.
“Police have previously reported that certain men broke into a house on 28 January 2018‚ and kidnapped the above-mentioned children. A manhunt for the suspects and a search to locate the children were instituted‚ which led to the arrest of the first suspect‚ Thokozani Msibi‚ aged 32‚ who has already appeared at the same court‚” said Hlathi.
“Through further probe‚ police also managed to locate the lifeless bodies of the two children at Cullinan and along the N4 Highway respectively.”
Gabisile’s mutilated body had been buried in a shallow grave while Nkosikhona had been thrown into a swamp. The trio will be joining Msibi in the dock on March 6. They face charges of murder and two counts of kidnapping.
Policeman reveals horror he found at sangoma’s premises
Published: February 28, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A police officer has described the trauma that he and other officers experienced when they discovered remains believed to be those of Gabisile Shabani‚ a 13-year-old albino girl who was murdered‚ allegedly as part of a muti ritual.
The premises in Emalahleni in Mpumalanga belonged to a traditional healer‚ who was arrested last week.
“The dog was first put in there‚ but it came out with nothing‚” said the officer‚ who asked not to be named.
“The dog seemed weak and disorientated as it came out of the room. The dog handler asked [the traditional healer] what he had done to his dog and he said there was strong muti in there‚” the officer said.
Inside the room‚ police officers found muti‚ buckets and bags with various substances‚ and what appeared to be body parts.
“He was telling us what was in each thing. He was speaking like a normal person‚ like you and I. It was really disturbing‚” said the officer.
Gabisile’s beheaded body was found in a shallow grave in Cullinan near Pretoria last week. This was three weeks after she and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were taken at gunpoint in the middle of the night by three men who broke into their home in Hlalanikahle.
It was alleged that the gunmen had mistaken Nkosikhona for another toddler in the house‚ who also has albinism.
The badly decomposed body of the little toddler was recovered on the same day Gabisile’s body was found. He had been thrown into a swamp along the N4.
The officer said he was disturbed to learn from pathologists conducting the post-mortem how Gabisile’s body had been mutilated.
Meanwhile‚ two other people have also been arrested in connection with the incident‚ said the officer. They were arrested in Swaziland and are yet to be brought back to South Africa.
The 32-year-old traditional healer remains in police custody. He appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday as a group of residents gathered outside the court to protest against his release.
The father of four will return to court on March 6‚ when his formal bail application is expected to continue.
Suspect appears in connection with kidnapped and murdered Witbank children
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
The suspect arrested in connection with the kidnapping of two children who were taken from their home in Hlalanikahle and later found dead appeared in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
“He was remanded in custody pending a bail application which is scheduled for February 26 2018‚” said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
“Thokozani Msibi was not asked to plead. The investigation regarding further suspects is underway‚” he added. Msibi was arrested on Tuesday night and charged with kidnapping.
Additional charges of murder could soon be added‚ Hlathi said.
On Wednesday morning‚ police discovered the bodies of two children in separate locations‚ believed to be those of the missing children‚ Gabisile Shabani and Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
They were reported missing on January 28 after three armed gunmen broke into their home and forcibly removed them.
At the time‚ Shabani’s mother told TimesLIVE that she believed the people who took her daughter and grandson were not South African nationals because of their accent when they spoke English.
Another relative said they believed Gabisile had been taken because she was an albino. They also told TimesLIVE they believed the toddler‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ had been mistaken for another toddler who was in the house at the time who also suffered from albinism.
Hlathi said one of the children’s corpses was found in Cullinan while the other was found in a swamp on the N4 en route to Pretoria.
“The bodies were in a bad state‚” Hlathi said.
“A postmortem needs to be conducted to determine the cause of death and DNA tests to also confirm it is them‚” he said.
Hlathi would not immediately confirm whether any of the two bodies had been mutilated.
Msibi lives in the same neighbourhood as the children.
As news of his arrest and the discovery of the children’s bodies spread‚ community members gathered at his house‚ wanting to torch it.
“We spoke to the community members and told them that destroying the house will amount to destroying evidence‚” said Hlathi.
Meanwhile the community began to mobilise in support of the family‚ arranging a protest ao the courthouse for Msibi’s next appearance.
Bodies found believed to be those of abducted Witbank children
Published: February 21, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Two bodies believed to be those of a little girl and her one-year-old nephew who were snatched from their home in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ last month were found on Wednesday.
Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said one of the corpses was found in Cullinan while the other was found in a swamp on the N4 en route to Pretoria.
“The bodies were in a bad state‚” Hlathi said.
“A postmortem needs to be conducted to determine the cause of death and DNA tests to also confirm it is them‚” he said.
Gabisile Shabani‚ 13‚ and her 15-month-old nephew‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ were kidnapped last month by armed gunmen who broke into their house in the middle of the night.
Relatives said they believed Gabisile had been taken because she was an albino. They also told TimesLIVE they believed Nkosikhona had been mistaken for another toddler who was in the house at the time who also lived with albinism.
Hlathi said one suspect had since been arrested.
“He will be appearing in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court today‚” Hlathi said.
Identikit released of alleged Witbank child-snatcher
Published: February 1, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
Police have released an identikit of one of the men suspected to be behind the kidnapping of two children in Witbank at the weekend.
The man was believed to have been part of a three-man gang that forcefully entered a house in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ and made off with Gabisile Shabani and her 15-month-old nephew at gunpoint.
TimesLIVE had on Wednesday spoken to the family who said they believed that all three attackers were foreign nationals.
By Thursday‚ the police investigations were yet to lead any results.
Community members‚ mostly comprising of school children embarked on a march calling for the release of the two child
“Gabisile is living with albinism and it is suspected that the three men who broke into their home in Hlalanikahle‚ also targeted Nkosikhona (the toddler) whom they misttok for another baby in the family who also lives with albinism‚” she said in a statement.
“Cases of kidnapping of people living with albinism are rife in Tanzania‚ and lately in KwaZulu-Natal – and there has been a surge of cases of kidnapping in general here in Emalahleni. But we suspect that the kidnapping of these two children is related to superstitious belief. I hope that police will apprehend those behind the kidnapping‚” Ntshalintshali said.
“The false belief that their body parts have extraordinary powers must be eradicated‚ albinism is a genetically inherited condition‚” she added.
Anna said she had noticed a man watching her daughter as she walked back from school for several days in a row.
She had never seen the man in the area before this‚ neither had she bothered to ask why he was loitering close to her home‚ Anna’s nephew‚ Simon‚ told TimesLIVE.
“I was told that this person would stand facing the door of the house‚” Simon said.
Now the family is wondering whether the same man could have been involved in the kidnapping of the little girl and her one-year-old nephew.
In the early hours of Sunday morning‚ the 50-year-old Anna woke up to the sound of glass shattering. She went to check and found that the one window which did not have burglar bars had been broken and‚ before she knew it‚ there were three men inside her house.
“I tried to scream and ask for help but they came in and pointed a gun at me. I ran back into my room and tried to close the door but they shoved it and overpowered me‚” Anna said.
One of the attackers pointed a gun at her and covered her mouth while the other headed to the bed and grabbed Gabisile‚ who is a twin.
Gabisile had been sleeping on her bed while her twin sister‚ Khanyisile‚ slept in another room with another of Anna’s grandchildren.
“I’m not sure whether she was still asleep at the time [she was taken] because the light was still off‚” Anna told TimesLIVE. “But she didn’t scream or cry.”
SA Community Crime Watch’s Maureen Scheepers said her group had been circulating pictures of the missing girl and working with police in their investigation.
Scheepers said the little girl had been wearing only her underwear when the assailants fled with her.
As the attackers rushed out if the house‚ Gabisile’s 18-year-old sister Nompumelelo‚ who had been sleeping in a separate bedroom with her 15-month-old son‚ Nkosikhona Ngwenya‚ emerged from her room.
“I told her that these men have taken Gabisile. She said they took my child too‚” said Anna.
The family called out to neighbours for help and a manhunt ensued.
Colonel Mtsholi Bembe said they were investigating housebreaking and kidnapping cases.
Published: January 31, 2018 By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa
A pair of cousins from Hlalanikahle in Witbank were kidnapped during an armed attack at their home at the weekend‚ police said on Wednesday.
The two are still missing. According to police‚ a 13-year-old girl and her 15-month-old cousin were taken by a three-man gang in the middle of the night on Sunday.
“According to information at police disposal‚ the trio broke a window and gained entry into the dining room of the house‚ where a 50-year-old woman is staying with her children and grandchildren‚” police said in a statement.
“Upon hearing the noise of the breaking window‚ the woman and her 18-year-old daughter came out of their rooms to investigate what was happening. They were threatened at gunpoint to be silent. The men then took two children from different rooms and vanished into the darkness.”
After the gunmen left‚ the two women headed out of their house‚ trying to raise the alarm with their neighbours.
Community members searched the area while the police were called.
“Nothing else was taken from the house except the two children whose whereabouts still remain unknown‚” said police.
A case of housebreaking and kidnapping has been opened.
Browsing on internet I found this 2011 article written by Fanuel Hadzizi from Zimbabwe. The article could have been written in the year 2000, or much earlier, and even nowadays, in the year 2020 !
I find it encouraging reading this article on a topic which it too often swept under the carpet although its main message is a sad one. The author pleads to break the silence on ritual killings in Africa and points to several cases of ritual killings in Southern Africa to warrant his plea. He concludes “It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights.”
What else can I say? Highly recommended – read ‘AFRICA: BREAKING THE SILENCE IN RITUAL KILLINGS’ by Fanuel Hadzizi, Gender Links Justice Program Officer of PeaceWomen. Peacewomen is the Women, Peace and Security Program of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.
Warning: The following article contains graphic details of ritual murders (FVDK)
Ritual killings and human sacrifice happen in many, if not all countries in Africa. Cases have been reported in such countries as Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, there have been cases whereby people’s heads were found in Asian owned shops whilst in Swaziland, some politicians commissioned ritual killings so that they could win elections. The grossness of the ritual murders is quite scary to imagine as victims’ bodies are mutilated and certain body parts go missing. Needless to mention that in South Africa for instance, body parts can be sold for as little as R3000.
On 24 September, South Africa celebrated Heritage Day under the banner “celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa.” According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the theme allowed the nation to “celebrate the lasting legacy of the national liberation struggle.”
Most importantly, Heritage Day provides an opportunity for South Africans to celebrate their cultural heritage and diversity of beliefs and traditions. As a concerned resident, I also feel that this is an opportunity for us to break the silence around the negative cultural practice of ritual killings that is prevalent in society and yet violates the basic universal human right to life.
During the course of Women’s Month in August, South Africa became the ninth Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to ratify the Protocol on Gender and Development. This brought to two thirds the number of countries that have done so, and means that the Protocol is now in force.
As we also celebrate the coming into force of this crucial instrument, let us ponder what is meant by the provision that all states adopt laws and policies to protect the girl and boy child from “harmful cultural attitudes and practices in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.”
I recall vividly growing up in one township in Zimbabwe. This was just when public transport in the form of the Toyota Hiace taxi had just been introduced in the country. At that tender age, we were scared to death by the stories doing the rounds in the township of the disappearance of children. We were told how kids were being lured by strangers who promised them some sweets.
The next thing, their bodies would be found in the bushes with some body parts missing. Rumours were that business people were taking the children’s heads for instance to Durban in South Africa and were trading them off for the taxis. Weren’t we all scared!
Ritual killings or muti killings are committed for the purpose of taking human body parts which are used to prepare charms and other traditional medicines. These charms are believed to have supernatural powers which are greatly enhanced if the organs are removed whilst the victim is still alive.
In Southern Africa there is a belief that female body parts possess supernatural powers that bring good fortune or make criminals invisible to police and other authorities. Research has shown that in other countries, especially in East Africa, the breast and a woman’s private parts enhance business success, a man’s private parts are believed to increase virility whilst a tongue can smooth one’s path to a lover’s heart.
In fact, ritual killing is perceived as an act of spiritual fortification.
In an article titled New Magic for New Times: Muti Murder in Democratic South Africa, Louise Vincent (2008) says that “the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes is based in the belief that it is possible to appropriate the life force of one person through its literal consumption by another.” The victim is thus carefully chosen.
The Sowetan reported in July this year that the brother of Gladys Mogaramedi (61) killed her for her body parts. Police discovered the badly mutilated body without the private parts. I felt a very cold chill down my spine as I read through the story with shock and disbelief. Even after reading it twice I still found myself at a loss for words, trying to comprehend how a person could execute such a diabolic act moreover to a sibling without any conscience.
The South African case highlighted above is but the tip of the iceberg to some of the cultural problems that our society is still grappling with in relation to gender based violence. More often than not, these crimes evade the spotlight because they are largely unreported or recorded merely as murder. Ritualists target vulnerable members of society such as the poor, women, children, people with disabilities and albinos whose families often do not have the resources to demand justice.
It is time governments turn up the heat on culprits and put an end to this violation of human rights. Heavy sentences should be given to those who commission as well as carry out the ritual killings. It is heartening to note that in a July 2010 ruling, the High Court of Mwanza region sentenced 50 year old Kazimiri Mashauri to death. The Tanzanian court convicted him for hacking to death a 5 year old girl for muti-related purposes.
Fanuel Hadzizi is the Gender Links Justice Program Officer of Peace Women,
A few days ago my attention was drawn by an Op-Ed article in an online Namibian newspaper, New Era Live. The article was entitled: “Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind“. It is a cry for attention, a cry for vigilance, a cry for leadership and for stiffer sanctions for those who are responsible for these heinous crimes, including traditional healers and – too often – relatives of the innocent victims, in many cases young children.
The anonymous author (a staff reporter) starts his or her plea stating “I want to share with you the excruciating pain that stabs my heart every time I read or hear about the senseless loss of life due to ritual or muti killings.”
I was shocked reading this. Is the present situation that bad? How frequent are ritual murrders (‘muti murders’) in Southern Africa?
I monitor relevant events in African countries with particular interest, as this site also demonstrates. Whereas I feel a kind of pride or joy when confronted with readers and/or reporters rejecting the repulsive practices of ritual or muti murders, it also hurts to see a confirmation of the plague that terrorizes too many people in too many African countries.
“One shudders to think about the many muti killings of people, young and old, that are happening almost on a daily basis in Southern Africa in particular, (…)”, the anonymous author continues.
Also revealing is the following statement:
“A study carried out in South Africa by scholars Randitsheni, Masoga and Madzusi (2017) revealed that “[some] pastors, businessmen, traditional leaders and leaders are involved in ritual murders”. The three scholars give more details of their research findings in their paper titled “Some perspectives on the impacts of ritual murders in the Vhembe district of South Africa: An interpretive phenomenological approach” which was published in the Journal of Social Sciences (Volume 48, Number 3). This is not to give an impression that ritual murders occur in South Africa only. Other scholars who have conducted researches in this area have revealed similar results in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Eswatini, Uganda, and Namibia, just to mention a few countries. “
I am flabbergasted. At the same time I am proud of the author and everyone who thinks alike. It strikes me that this cry for justice, for the eradication of this scourge in our contemporary societies, comes from Namibia. Apparently, much more occurs beneath the surface in this Southern African country than one would think at first glance. The ‘New Era’ newspaper which published this op-ed is a leading source of community and national news in Namibia. Its owners and editors are to be commended for their courageous decision to publish this view. May many more newspaper owners, editors and journalists join the war against ritualistic murders in Africa.
Together it will be possible to eradicate this medieval belief in superstition. Nothing is impossible. “You never fail until you stop trying.” (webmaster FVDK)
“Ritual killings: Cry my beloved humankind”
Published: October 22, 2020 By: New Era Live, Namibia
If you are reading this article, wherever you are, prepare to shed tears. Prepare to travel with me on this emotional journey, as I interrogate the evil that men do, that of ritual killings, which have left people questioning the essence of life, since some people can take it away from you or someone at once, just like that. I want to share with you the excruciating pain that stabs my heart every time I read or hear about the senseless loss of life due to ritual or muti killings.
The world has turned topsy-turvy, completely upside down, and everyone’s life is at risk, either directly or indirectly. People fear for their lives and the lives of their children and loved ones. Everyone’s life is in danger as there are some immoral people who have taken the law into their hands, and can decide how many more days you are left with alive on this earth. It is horrendous.
The stonehearted murderers can be anyone ranging from, paradoxically, people closest to you, to complete strangers. The love of riches and fame, the eagerness to get rich quickly without working for it, and the love of power and fame have led people to involve themselves in atrocious, inhuman activities. One shudders to think about the many muti killings of people, young and old, that are happening almost on a daily basis in Southern Africa in particular, and elsewhere in the world. Research reveals that ritual killings are so rampant in Africa that some researchers have described ritual murder as a pandemic. The grisly killings of innocent victims, especially children and women, have shocked communities, societies and the whole world.
Many unsuspecting victims have been lured by people they know and killed for ritual purposes. We have read and heard about small children and teenagers who have been brutally murdered by their close relatives. As you read this article, or as you sit there at home or in a classroom – wherever you are – always bear in mind that you may be a candidate for ritual murder. Many victims have lost their lives through the involvement of their close relatives or loved ones. In these cases, it becomes tricky for the law enforcement agents to prevent such murders as relatives and loved ones are supposed to take care of the children, and not to kill them.
The belief that a human being’s body parts or limps bring luck, riches and power to people has fuelled the crime of ritual killing. Corpses have been discovered without heads, private parts and internal organs, suggesting that these are the most sought-after parts to be used in muti or medicinal concoctions. As the evil men harvest human body parts for their benefits, societies are traumatised, yet it is in these societies that we find the perpetrators of this heinous crime. It is in these societies that most of the killings are secretly planned and executed. The irony is that some respectable members of these communities promote these ritual murders for various reasons. Some of them are leopards clothed in sheep’s skins.
A study carried out in South Africa by scholars Randitsheni, Masoga and Madzusi (2017) revealed that “[some] pastors, businessmen, traditional leaders and leaders are involved in ritual murders”. The three scholars give more details of their research findings in their paper titled “Some perspectives on the impacts of ritual murders in the Vhembe district of South Africa: An interpretive phenomenological approach” which was published in the Journal of Social Sciences (Volume 48, Number 3). This is not to give an impression that ritual murders occur in South Africa only. Other scholars who have conducted researches in this area have revealed similar results in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Eswatini, Uganda, and Namibia, just to mention a few countries. As I write, the Zimbabwean community is failing to come to terms with how a man could have allegedly taken part in the planning and ritual killing of his brother’s seven-year-old son. The account of the cold blooded murder of the fateful boy by the co-accused man, in this case, is available on Youtube for those who have the guts to listen to such a chilling narrative of a despicable act.
The ubiquity of ritual murders in Africa proves that the crime is a scourge in our contemporary societies. The crime is a cancer that is spreading in our societies at an alarming rate. The belief in supernatural powers and superstition are the driving forces of ritual murders and sacrificial killings in our societies. Traditional healers tell you, for example, that in order for you to be successful in life, you must kill your son or daughter, or someone you love dearly like your wife. Foolishly, some people believe this and they murder their loved ones for nothing. It is also true that the moral fabric of our societies is decaying at a fast rate. The African concept of Ubuntu seems to be melting away fast, leaving a culture of violence in our societies. One result of the loss of Ubuntu is that the sanctity of human life is no longer respected; this is why some people can be hired to kill for money.
Concerned researchers on ritual murders have gone to the extent of studying ancient civilisations. They have revealed that the bible is replete with sacrificial killings or offerings of human beings. In some religions, sacrificial killings happen today. In order to curb ritual murders, families should be vigilant and protect their children. Community leaders and politicians must denounce these killings at gatherings. Stiffer sentences must be imposed on criminals convicted of ritual murders. Let us teach the love of one another as humans in our homes. Ubuntu teachings should find a place in our homes. Let us be exemplary to our children since psychologists have proved that children learn what they live. Say no to ritual killings and save lives.