Nigeria Humanist Movement leader Leo Igwe comments on the arrest of suspected ritualists in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria

Leo Igwe is a well-known human rights advocate, specialized in campaigning against witchcraft and cruel ritualistic practices. I mentioned him before on this site (see my June 24, 2018 post on Superstition in Mozambique) and also elsewhere, when he spoke out against ritual murders in Africa: in his home country Nigeria in 2004, in Swaziland (nowadays called Eswatini) in 2008, and in African countries in general in 2010 and 2012. Recently, the infatigable human rights campaigner was again in the spotlight when condemning ‘money ritual’ practices in Nigeria, calling the criminal acts ‘useless’ and trying to persuade ritual killers to give up their ‘useless’ 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.

Source: Nothing Like Money Rituals, Ritual Killers Are Killing In Vain – Nigerian Humanist Movement

Trial of the muti murderers of Gabisile Shabane, a young girl with albinism from Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) South Africa

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).

Screenshot for illustration purposes only (archives) – – No link included

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).

On January 28, 2018 Gabisile Shabane, a 13 year old teenager girl with albinism,  was brutally abducted by armed men and subsequently murdered for her body parts, in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank). File photo. Image: SAPS

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)

The case continues. 

Source: Blood of murdered girl with albinism used for ‘cleansing’, says state witness

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

The three men implicated in the killing of Gabisile Shabane and her nephew, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, in the dock of the high court sitting in Middelburg, Mpumalanga. 
Image: Naledi Shange/TimesLIVE

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.

Source: Albinism muti trial: Traditional healer’s second defence lawyer quits

Accused in case of murdered teen with albinism dies before trial

Published: March 1, 2021
By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa

Gabisile Shabane and her 15-month-old nephew were kidnapped and murdered in a muti-related killing in January 2018.  Image: SAPS

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.

Josiah Thubane who admitted to the killing of Shabane and baby Nkosikhona in the dock in Middleburg.  Image: File/Thulani Mbhele  

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.

Source: Accused in case of murdered teen with albinism dies before trial

And:

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.

Source: Double life sentence for teacher who killed teen with albinism for muti

And:

Teacher to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby

A Mpumalanga teacher has admitted to killing for muti. File photo.  
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

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.

Source: Teacher to be sentenced for muti murder of albino teen, baby

And:

Nine months after she was mutilated and killed‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane will finally be laid to rest

Gabisile Shabani and her 15-month-old nephew were taken from their home in Witbank at gunpoint. File Photo  Image: SAPS

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. 

Source: Nine months after she was mutilated and killed‚ 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane will finally be laid to rest

And:

‘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.

Source: ‘Let’s burn this court!’ Outrage as alleged killers of albino girl is postponed again

And:

‘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.

Source: ‘They know where her mom lives’ – Trio linked to murder of albino girl denied bail

And:

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.

Source: Three more suspects arrested for abduction, murder of Witbank children

And:

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.

Source: Policeman reveals horror he found at sangoma’s premises

And: 

Suspect appears in connection with kidnapped and murdered Witbank children

Published: February 21, 2018
By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa

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. 
Image: EMalahleni Residents/Community – Municipality via Facebook

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.

How many will take part in a peaceful march when the suspects who murdered Gabisile Shabani and Nkosikhona Ngwenya…Posted by EMalahleni Residents/Community – Municipality on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Source: Suspect appears in connection with kidnapped and murdered Witbank children

Note of the webmaster: Also see my post dated August 23, 2019, South African teacher admits to killing teen with albinism for ritual purposes

And: 

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.

This is a developing story.

Source: Bodies found believed to be those of abducted Witbank children

And:

Identikit released of alleged Witbank child-snatcher

Published: February 1, 2018
By:  Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa

Gabisile Shabani and her 15-month-old nephew were taken from their home in Witbank at gunpoint. Image: SAPS

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.

An identikit of a man suspected to be involved in the kidnapping of two children in Witbank
An identikit of a man suspected to be involved in the kidnapping of two children in Witbank 
Image: Supplied 

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. 

Source: Identikit released of alleged Witbank child-snatcher

And:

Man seen loitering outside house before young girl snatched from her bed

Published: February 1, 2018
By: Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE, South Africa

A 13-year-old girl who was snatched from her bed in Hlalanikahle‚ Witbank‚ two days ago may have been the victim of a calculated‚ well planned abduction.

Anna Shabani said she had noticed a man watching her daughter Gabisile‚ 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 as well as her one-year-old nephew.

In the early hours of Sunday morning‚ 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 lay sleeping on her bed while her sister slept in another room with Anna’s grandchild.

Unlike her twin sister Khanyisile‚ Gabisile was born with albinism.

“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.”

Image: SA Community Crime Watch 

The 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 of 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. Two days later and they still have no leads.

Anna said she had no idea why her daughter and grandson were taken.

Simon said it had crossed their minds that Gabisile was taken because of her albinism.

Colonel Mtsholi Bembe said they were investigating housebreaking and kidnapping cases. “We have just finished compiling the identikit and we will be releasing it soon‚” Mtsholi said.

Scheepers said when she asked the family to describe the suspects‚ they said they were not South African.

Nompulelo said the abductors were speaking in English and had told her to “freeze” and give them the baby.

The family was patiently awaiting any news.

“Everyone [in the community] is shocked by this. You hear of children going missing but this is something else‚” said Anna.

Source: Man seen loitering outside house before young girl snatched from her bed

And:

Witbank cousins snatched in armed attack

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.

Source: Witbank cousins snatched in armed attack

Ritual murders and mysterious deaths in Liberia – cont’d

Yesterday’s post on the alleged recent surge in ritual murders in Liberia and the spike in mysterious deaths is continued today with a cry from a Liberian journalist and pro-child advocate, Fahnie S. Kollie. The author cries for an intervention, be it from local, Liberian authorities, or the international community, to stop the seemingly endless killing of innocent civilians, men, women, children, for ritualistic purposes.  

Read her story and plea for help. And – to use Fahnie Kollie’s words:  Let’s act together. Either now or never!

Another Liberian who has raised his voice against the silence of President Weah over the wave of ritualistic killings across Monrovia and other parts of the country is Dr. Daniel Cassell. 

Dr. Daniel Cassell is the Vision Bearer of the newly certificated People’s Liberation Party (PLP), and also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/President of the Dr. Cassell’s Humanitarian Foundation, and Kwenyan Security Firm, operating in Liberia.

I wish to congratulate Fahnie Kollie and Daniel Cassell here for their statements and public intervention. Whereas I commend them, notably for their plea for respect of human rights and their cry for an end to these senseless murders, it is nonetheless important to note that some allegations of ritualistic activities have not been proven even though – it cannot be said enough – every ritualistic murder is one too much.
Liberia, unfortunately, has a long history and notorious record when it comes to ritual killings, mysterious deaths, witchcraft and superstition. Previous posts bear ample testimony to this observation.

Warning: some readers may find the graphic details of the description cited disturbing (webmaster FVDK).

Liberia: A Horror Movie – How Did We Get Here?

Fahnie S. Kollie, Liberian journalist and pro-life advocate

Published: September 29, 2021
By: Fahnie S. Kollie – The Perspective, Atlanta/Georgia 

Liberia has been known to be a peaceful and calm country since the end of the civil war in August 2003. In fact, it is often referred to as a Sweet Land of Liberty. But is this maxim or aphorism still true today? 

Mysterious deaths and ritualistic killings were visible during President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration. But why has it drastically increased during this administration? Why now and what’s going on? After the ascendency of ex-Soccer Legend George M. Weah in 2018, Liberians were promised and reassured of a better and safer Liberia; A Liberia where women and children would feel protected and secured; One where the press would be free and citizens would not be haunted because of their individual stance on issues or political affiliation.

A Liberia where the rule of law would be respected and justice would be equally discharged/dispensed to all regardless of status, religion, ethnicity, and background. One that puts the security, safety, and wellbeing of the citizens above all other national priorities. 

We weren’t promised a Liberia of terror, horror, and fear as it is being seen today. President Weah’s inaugural speech 4 years ago gave many Liberians renewed hope and assurance of a new Liberia, but are we experiencing that new Liberia? Just few months into Mr. Weah’s Presidency, things began to go the opposite. A big corruption scandal broke out; the infamous alleged missing 16 billion LRD. 

After the release of a damning report surrounding this saga which established that over 2 billion LRD was unaccounted for, two Liberian professionals who were declared persons of interest in the investigation mysteriously died. Mr. Matthew J. Innis who was the Deputy Director for Micro-Finance in the Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) died in an alleged hit-and-run in March 2019. 

According to FrontPage Africa, another employee identified as Mr. Kollie Ballah, a general support staff at the CBL, who was believed to be the one that drove one of the trucks with the LD 16 billion from the Freeport, also died in an accident. What seemed like a week’s thing would soon turn into a never ending nightmare for Liberians. 

This was the start of another terrifying episode of mysterious deaths, continued disappearances, and ritualistic killings under the leadership of the newly-elected President, George M. Weah. A year later on October 2, 2020, Mrs. Gifty Lama, Acting Manager of Tax Services at the LRA and Mr. Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit at LRA were found dead in a vehicle on Broad Street in Monrovia. Two days later, another auditor of the LRA, Mr. George Fahnboto reportedly died in a vehicle accident along the 72nd Boulevard according to FPA. Still dealing with the mysterious deaths of these three auditors, on October 10, the Head of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa, was also found dead in his compound along the 72nd boulevard. 

The death of the four (4) auditors with in a period of two weeks sparked huge fear among Liberians who found themselves in the auditing field and every other sector. People could no longer feel safe to be in the streets at night. An autopsy was conducted and the results were released in November. This created mixed reaction among Liberians including family members of the deceased. At first, the mysterious deaths were just circulating among Liberian professionals especially those in government, but soon, this fearful tragedy extended to every Liberian in the country. A wave of mysterious disappearances and ritualistic killings took center stage in the country. 

Shockingly, three boys who were hired by the Proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral Parlor went missing on October 17. Robert M. Blamo, Jr., Bobby S. Gbeanquoi, and Siafa G. Boimah reportedly drowned in a river in Bong County while returning home in canoe which allegedly capsized. Mr. Moses Ahossoushe was accused by some family members of the missing boys of being involved in ritualistic killings but he denied the claim. This incident led to series of protests organized by family members and other concerned Liberians. Up till now, this matter has not been fully resolved. 

After a devastating 2020, Liberians expected a boost of security in 2021 to ensure that these mysterious incidences are minimized. Unfortunately, the situation got worse. On March 2, 2021, FPA reported that the body of a woman who was gruesomely murdered was discovered in the 72nd community in Paynesville. According to the police spokesman, Moses Carter, the police was investigating the mysterious death of a 46-year-old woman identified as Florence Massaquoi. Prior to this, the lifeless body of a man believed to be in his 30s was also discovered in the Outland community near the Benson hospital.

Investigation into these cases were still ongoing when another case involving a 22-year-old boy identified as Mordecial Nyemah was reported. He was found in a rubber bush in Plebo Sodoken District with body parts extracted. These numerous cases of mysterious killings have rapidly increased over the past few months and it is alarming.

Just this month of September 2021, there have been several cases of kidnapping and killing of women and men with parts extracted from their bodies. An employee of the LRA reportedly went missing and is yet to be found. On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the lifeless body of a woman was discovered on a beach on 17th street, Sinkor. The latest incident to occur was involving a woman believed to be in her early 40s. She was discovered dead and half-naked with bruises all over her body in Caldwell on Monday, September 27, 2021. All of these mysterious happenings coupled with the testimonies from some women, who were survivors of kidnapping/abduction for ritual purposes and the startling revelation made by former manager of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), have instilled fear in every citizen especially women. Madam Ellen Corkrum accused the Solicitor General of Liberia, Syrenius Cephus and others of being involved in the killing of young virgins for ritualistic purposes, but he denied the allegation.

With everything that is going on which I consider a “Horror Movie”, the fundamental question is “how did we get here”? How did Liberia get to this point? Liberians are no longer safe in their own country. Women and girls can no longer walk around freely without worrying about someone putting a white handkerchief to their nose or drugging their drink. We no longer feel safe riding a vehicle, a motorcycle, or a tricycle. 

Borrowing the lyrics from the famous “Liar man” song sang by President Weah, “why are we being tracked down in our own country?” what did Liberians do to deserve this kind of terror and harassment? As though the massive corruption, bad economy, poor educational and healthcare system, appalling living conditions of the people, and the high level of sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated against women are not enough, Liberians are made to suffer painful and gruesome killings due to heartlessness and greed by evil people, some of whom have been entrusted with state power. 

Instead of providing security for the people as duty-bearers, they are using the very power to kill people and go with impunity. The situation confronting Liberians is more like the common saying “adding insult to injury or ma die, pa crazy”. It can be recalled that Pres. Weah, speaking during the signing of the book of condolence for the former IAA boss informed Liberians to be their own security thus urging government officials and ordinary citizens to buy and install CCTV camera in their various homes for security protection. 

But my question to the president is, did IAA boss not have CCTV camera at his house? He did but did it provide him security protection? No, it didn’t. Did Pres. Weah do a background check before making such statement? I don’t think so. How many Liberians can afford to install CCTV camera in their homes and even if some can afford, does Liberia have stable and accessible electricity to run the CCTV cameras? No. 

Didn’t the president consider residents of Brewerville, Bensonville, Fendall, Careyburg, Johnsonville and Liberians in rural areas who don’t have electricity at all? I don’t think he did. How do you expect an old lady or an oldman in Butuo, Salayea, Belle Yala, Pleebo and other villages to operate CCTV cameras? 

The situation in the country is horrible and unacceptable. Liberians don’t deserve this kind of terror and wickedness. In the 21 century, when other third world countries are keen on improving their country, coming up with new ideas and inventions, our country is still dealing with the issue of ritualistic killing. Are we serious? This madness must stop. President Weah and the entire joint security force need to take siege of this matter and put it under control once and for all. 

Mr. President, you promised to uphold and defend the Constitution of this Republic and that Constitution guarantees every Liberian the right to life and security; therefore, you must ensure that you uphold and defend those rights. I don’t think this is the kind of Liberia you want. If that’s the case, than you must act now against ritualistic killing. The disappearances and killings must stop. Everyone has the right to Life, Liberty and Security of Person. The universal declaration of human rights guarantees that. So, no one has the right to deprive others of living. Mr. President, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Chief Justice, Hon. Daniel Ziakan, Hon. Prince C. Johnson, Col. Patrick Sudue, Cllr. Musa Dean and every other person in the government, we are calling on you to act now and ensure our sisters, mothers, brothers, fathers, and children are protected. 

To our partners, the US Embassy, EU, ECOWAS, OAU, Civil society Organizations, and others, we are also calling on you to intervene in this matter. We must go beyond issuing statements and press releases. Let’s act together. Either now or never!

About The Author: Fahnie S. Kollie is a pro-child and pro-girl advocate. She is a senior student at the University of Liberia studying mass communication and an Honor Scholar of Lux-In-Tenebris Scholars Program. Fahnie is also a graduating senior of the Peter Quaqua School Of Journalism and a practicing journalist.  Fahnie can be reached via: fskthescholar@gmail.com or 0775069741/0555589644

Source: Liberia: A Horror Movie – How Did We Get Here?

More on the recent surge in ritualistic killings and the inaction of government:

Dr. Cassell frowns at Weah’s silence on ritualistic killings

Dr. Daniel E. Cassell is the Vision Bearer of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP).
He is also the President of the Dr. Cassell’s Humanitarian Foundation and CEO of the Kwenyan Security Firm, operating in Liberia.

Published: September 30, 2021
By: Staff Editor – Daily Observer, Liberia 

The Vision Bearer of the newly certificated People’s Liberation Party (PLP), Dr. Daniel E. Cassell, has expressed disappointment over the conspicuous silence of President George Manneh Weah over the growing wave of ritualistic killings across Monrovia and other parts of the country.

Liberians and other foreign residents in the country continue to wake up to news of the gruesome murder of citizens, especially women, in a communities around Montserrado County.

Parts are extracted from the remains of the victims by the unknown perpetrators, allegedly for ritualistic purposes. The body of a woman, only identified as Oretha, was discovered covered with banana leaves on a dusty road in Caldwell early this week. A day later, another corpse was found in a bush in the Soul Clinic community. Last week, the body of Mr. John Hilary Tubman, son of the late President William V.S. Tubman, was found in a pool of blood, badly beaten to death in his bedroom at his home in Fiamah, a suburb of Monrovia.

The current situation has instilled fear in Liberians and foreign residents, compelling them to return home from their various working and selling places earlier than before.  Citizens are now observing a self-imposed curfew in the country to avoid encountering predators.

In a press statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday, September 29, Dr. Cassell condemned the callous wave of ritualistic killings across the country by those he called “evil-minded individuals.”

He emphasized that besides the escalating media reports on the shameless murdering of fellow citizens for ritualistic purposes, he has also witnessed videos of individuals recounting horrifying stories of how they narrowly escaped death at the hands of these “predatory, ritualistic carnivores.”

“I have also heard a lady identified as Ellen Cockrum made striking revelations of ritualistic killings on various radio stations — linking top brass of the George Weah administration to ritualistic practices,” Dr. Cassell said.

Dr. Cassell maintained that despite the current situation in the country, nothing significant has been heard from the Liberian Chief Executive and other government officials to allay the fears that have gripped citizens and others.

“In the face of these impending tragic developments, I have not heard President Weah or his government officials say or do anything significant about this wave of carnage, to curb the crippling fear being instilled in the public.”

“It is disgusting and disgraceful that a government would stumble on its constitutional obligation to protect its citizens and supinely watch evil-minded men slaughter them in cold blood,” Dr. Cassell added.

Dr. Cassell further called on the government to take the appropriate steps in arresting the situation.

He said state security forces should “Aggressively hunt down these barbaric killers and bring them to justice.”

“I extend condolences to the bereaved families of all who have been murdered by these carnivores. If this scene of horror hasn’t claimed the attention of President George Weah and his government, I hope this statement draws their attention and causes them to expeditiously end the slaughtering of our people for ritualistic purposes”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cassell has cautioned Liberians to be mindful while in the streets and commuting across Monrovia and other parts of the country. He, however, prayed for God’s grace and protection upon Liberia and its citizens in the wake of numerous challenges and the growing wave of secret and ritualistic killings that have engulfed the post-conflict nation in recent times.

Source: Dr. Cassell Frowns at Weah’s Silence On Ritualistic Killings

Namibia: another unexplained death, possible ritual killing

Namibia is not often in the news when speaking about ritual murders, attacks on people with albinisme, witchcraft or related ritualistic activities. Yet also in Namibia occult and ritualistic activities and ceremonies take place, performed by Namibians who believe in the power of superstition. I reported on ritualistic murders in this country as far back as 2005 and 2008. In 2012, members of the national police force discovered items suspected to have been used in a witchcraft ritual near the Nonidas plots some 10 kilometres east of Swakopmund.

When on June 29, 2021 the lifeless body of a 22-year old student, Mukuve Frederick Kanyanga, who had been missing for several days, was found floating in the Okavango river near the Kapako village, in the extreme north-eastern corner of the country, many villagers immediately thought of foul play. “Similar incidents are common in the area where his lifeless body was found,” Kavango East regional councillor Damian Maghambayi commented. And when the victim’s sister, Justa Kalyangu, was interviewed she said: “We need investigators from other regions to come help our police here. Over 18 people have died or have gone missing in this area over the years and no investigations are done.”

Though the cause of Kanyanga’s death has not yet been established officially and hence talking about suspicions and a possible ritual killing constitute non-confirmed speculations, the rumors spreading after his death and the anxiety shown by his relatives and the villagers clearly show that ritual murders are far from an abstract phenomenon in Namibia (webmaster FVDK). 

Missing student’s body found in Okavango

The late 22-year old student Mukuve Frederick Kanyanga

Published: June 29, 2021
By: The Namibian – Enoke Kaumba and Ester Mbathera       

THE mysterious death of 22-year-old University of Namibia student Mukuve Frederick Kanyanga has sent shockwaves through communities in the Mukwe constituency of the Kavango East region.

Kanyanga’s body was discovered floating in the Okavango River near the Kapako village on Thursday last week. 

Kavango East regional councillor Damian Maghambayi on Friday issued a statement expressing shock and disbelief about the incident.

“The mysterious death of Mukuve brought shockwaves among communities of Mukwe. Similar incidents are common in the area where his lifeless body was found,” he remarked.

Rumours have suggested that the incident was linked to ritual killing. Maghambayi cautioned communities and the family to remain calm and allow the police to conduct their investigations.

Kanyanga’s sister Justa Kalyangu last spoke to him on Sunday last week, when he arrived at Divindu from Rundu. He was supposed to have accompanied a friend to a funeral at a village near Divundu. 

“When we spoke he said he is coming to the funeral. I thought it was the funeral of our relative but he came for a different funeral. He was not at the memorial service or the funeral. I called him the next day and he did not pick up his phone,” said Kalyangu. 

During the following days, she kept calling Kanyanga’s phone, which was ringing but not being picked up. Kalyangu told The Namibian that on Monday 21 June, she approached the Mukwe police to report a missing person. The same day she also put out a missing person’s post on social media. 

“They only asked that we give them a picture and all his details. Thereafter nothing happened. I asked some family members to help me search for him on Tuesday 22 June. 

“On Thursday morning I went to the police to ask that they issue us a search warrant so that we can search the houses. That is when I received a call that the person we are looking for has been found in the river,” added Kalyangu. 

She added to Maghambayi suspicions that people are dying and going missing mysteriously in the area. 

“We need investigators from other regions to come help our police here. Over 18 people have died or have gone missing in this area over the years and no investigations are done,” she said. 

Kavango East governor Bonifasius Wakudumo also expressed condolences to the family and the residents of the region.

The governor has encouraged the youth in the region to be very mindful when choosing friends.

“We must be cautious of the friends that you have, because you never know what is inside a person. 

“When you move in a group of people the family must know who you are with because if anything happens they will not hesitate to contact the colleagues you said you were with,” said the governor. 

Kavango East acting regional commander, deputy commissioner Vilho Kalwenya said the police have interrogated the group of friends the deceased was with before his disappearance.

“We cannot reach a conclusion of arresting anyone because there isn’t any evidence that suggests an arrest,” he said.

Kalwenya added the police are doing their best in their investigations. 

He cautioned the community members to stop spreading unsubstantiated rumours about ritual killings.

“The post mortem will tell us the cause of the death. Those who are spreading unsubstatiated rumours on the issue should prove to us because the autopsy is not concluded, people are already making conclusions,” he said.

Source: Missing student’s body found in Okavango

Southern Africa: shocking details of ‘muti’ murders

Warning: the following article contains graphic details, the reader may find the article shocking.

The following article from Eric Naki, the Political Eitor of The Citizen, a South African online news magazine, contains several frank observations which are worth specifically mentioning here.

First, Naki, citing an expert on ritual murders, Dr Alunamutwe Rannditsheni, from Limpopo province, tells us that ritual murders are a worldwide phenomenon, occurring not only in Africa or Sub-Saharan Africa. I am very happy with this expert-observation even though it results in mixed feelings because of its sad contents. I have also mentioned it in my introduction to this website on ritual killing, witchcraft and superstition in African countries (‘Why publish this site‘).

Secondly, reportedly, kidnappings, human trafficking, and ritual murders, often referred to as ‘muti murders’, are well-known crimes in nearly all 16 member-states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).  This is shocking. The combined population living in the 16 SADC-countries totals about 300 million people.

Lastly, the well-informed author confirms the ghastly details of the way muti murders are committed. Organs or other body parts are extracted live from the poor and helpless victims, not seldom children. The reality is sometimes too hard to describe and too revolting to imagine.

Ritual murders, human trafficking, kidnappings, and associated fear and torture are a plague in many African countries and must stop immediately. To the governments which have a sacred obligation to protect their citizens I would say: ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ (webmaster FVDK).

Muti murders: ‘Genitals only work if cut from live victims’

Published: May 20, 2021
By: The Citizen, South Africa – Eric Naki

Victims were lured with promises of jobs, but when they arrived at the destination, they would be abducted and taken away to have their body parts cut off.

An expert on ritual murders, Dr Alunamutwe Rannditsheni, from Limpopo, said ritual killings were a worldwide phenomenon and not only an African problem.

Almost all of the SADC countries experienced ritual killing-related kidnappings and human trafficking.

A 2008 investigation by the Human Rights League in Mozambique found such murders were rife in the country. It found people were trafficked between countries with the purpose to remove parts to be trafficked separately.

The league, which interviewed survivors, eye-witnesses, families of victims and civil society in Mozambique and South Africa, found body parts were forcibly removed from children and adults, causing death or severe disability.

“Throughout the report, informants share personal experiences, which confirm that body parts are taken across the border between South Africa and Mozambique.”

A custom’s official in Sofala province, Mozambique, said: “They say the treatments with genital organs only work if they are taken from a person alive.”

In some instances in Mozambique, victims were beheaded before the parts were removed.

“The murderer cut her throat like she was a goat. He cut her head just like that and removed her genital organs, leaving all the rest,” the report quoted a police officer at Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique as saying.

In another case, a female stall holder at Ressano Garcia on the border with South Africa was fingered for ritual murders.

“The police searched and found that she was carrying genital organs of adult men … I don’t know how many exactly, it was several. But they were from adult men, I saw them myself,” an officer said.

Cases of muti killings were also reported in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Tanzania. People living with albinism were the main targets in Tanzania.

Community leader and businessman Phumudzo Mukhwati alleged the ritual murder gangs had spread to provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng.

Victims were lured with promises of jobs, but when they arrived at the destination, they would be abducted and taken away to have their body parts cut off in Limpopo or a neighbouring country.

Source: Muti murders: ‘Genitals only work if cut from live victims’

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) comprises 16 Member States: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Ritual Killing: Let The Carnage Stop

Source: The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related article:

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

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

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

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

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

What happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related article: suspects grabbed

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

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

Published: August 1, 2020
By: Modern Ghana – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Suspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another article:

Kafaba: Bole District Court Remands Woman ‘Killer’

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

The accused person was provisionally charged with murder. 

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

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

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

More Suspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More articles:

Kafaba Killing: Woman ‘Killer’ To Face Court Today

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five suspects charged with conspiracy to commit murder

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

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

Kafaba chief granted bail

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

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

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

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

Another:

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

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Suspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To conclude:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They have been arrested to face prosecution.

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

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last but not least, two related articles:

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

Published: August 1, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deceased has since been buried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kafaba Killing Reportage Has Boosted My Popularity – TV3 Journalist

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

Published: August 3, 2020
By: Modern Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find below Christopher’s full interview:

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

‘Sorcery’ still a motive for torture, killing in 21st century

It seems appropriate to start this introduction to the following article with a warning because of its graphic contents. Sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) is sometimes too gruesome to tell or to read. I’ve read a lot of articles on ritual murders in recent years and ‘ve seen many pictures, yet my stomach was turning when I read the following report on sorcery accusation-related violence. It describes horrible acts of mobs or sometimes individuals which take place not only in Africa or Sub-Saharan Africa, but in countries and regions all over the world. Common characteristics are that people are ill-informed, not or poorly educated, and have limited opportunities and no perspectives for improvement of one’s lives, in combination with a weak rule of law and often a lack of political will, as one well-informed interviewee rightly stated (see below).

The article mentions a few countries in Africa, notably Central African Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, but it does no require much imagination to add other African countries. The belief in witchcraft is widespread on the continent. This is not to say that everybody in Africa believes in witchcraft but the number of superstitious people and people who believe in witchcraft (juju, muti, money rituals) cannot be counted, that’s for sure.

It hurts me deeply to read about sorcery accusation-related violence. The majority of the victims are women and children, notably girls, but sometimes also boys and men are accused of witchcraft and sorcery. On March 20 this year, I posted an article on a gruesome incident which happened in Liberia where a school expelled a K-1 pupil for alleged witchcraft. In July 2020, a 90-year old woman accused of sorcery was lynched by a mob in Ghana. The gruesome torture and killing caused a nationwide outcry. More details in tomorrow’s posting.  
(webmaster FVDK)

In July 2020, a 90-year-old woman was lynched after a traditional priest accused her of being a witch. The deceased, Akua Denteh was slapped, kicked and caned at Kafaba near Salaga in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region, Ghana.
The picture is a screenshot from the video showing two women assaulting the old lady, a horrific and repulsive scene which is too disgusting to show or to watch (FVDK).  

‘Sorcery’ still a motive for torture, killing in 21st century

Published: April 28, 2021
By: CGTN – Sim Sim Wissgott

Two women were attacked and tortured in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby on Sunday, accused of witchcraft. They were interrogated and burned with hot irons to get them to admit to killing a woman who had died earlier in the week, local media reports said.

One managed to escape and alert the police. But this was not an isolated incident in the Pacific island nation.

Local media reported in February that six women had been accused of sorcery. Police managed to free two women in July after they were held and tortured for four days, accused of killing a villager a week earlier by removing his heart.

Attacks like these are so widespread that Papua New Guinea (PNG) actually has a term and acronym for them: sorcery accusation-related violence, or SARV.

While authorities and politicians regularly condemn these as “barbaric acts” and “uncivilized” behavior, SARV continues.

This type of violence is not limited to PNG either. Accusations of sorcery remain a very real threat in many communities around the world and claim dozens – if not hundreds – of lives every year.

‘Ash and powder’

A 53-year-old widow was bludgeoned to death in India’s northeastern Assam state on Saturday in an apparent “witch-hunting” killing.

Other sorcery-related killings in recent months have included a 70-year-old man in eastern Jharkhand state who reportedly practiced exorcism and sold herbal medicines; a family of five, accused of black magic after several people in their village fell ill and died; and a middle-aged man who was beheaded “on suspicion of sorcery” in neighboring Odisha state in December.

Another elderly man in Odisha was killed last month after villagers accused him of witchcraft.

“The deceased used to throw ash and some powder in front of the houses of villagers which raised doubts that he was practicing some witchcraft. In a fit of rage, some youths of the village killed him with stone and hammer and fled the spot after dumping his body in the bushes near the canal,” a police officer told local media.

Reports have emerged in recent months from South Africa, Nigeria, and Nepal of people being beaten, tortured or killed on suspicion of witchcraft. Countries like Tanzania and Ghana have also been fighting SARV for years.

There are no definite figures on how many people fall victim to SARV every year around the world. In many cases, the crimes go unreported as victims fear retribution.

The problem is significant enough that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights held an experts’ conference in 2017 to discuss ways “to end harmful practices related to witchcraft.”

There were 372 anti-sorcery attacks reported between 2013 and 2016 in PNG, according to UK charity Oxfam. In India’s Assam state, a dozen are killed every year, according to local media.

Mob mentality

Although men can be targeted, victims of witchcraft-related violence tend overwhelmingly to be women and girls.

As a result, the issue is often paired with women’s rights and gender equality. Victims are generally among the most vulnerable members of the community. Mob mentality, lack of education and poor policing are also contributing factors.

“Sorcery-related violence stems from poor education, lack of awareness, limited opportunities coupled with deteriorating capacity for law and order and a lack of political will,” PNG’s Oro Province Governor Gari Juffa told The Guardian last year.

There have been reports of people accused of being witches after a member of their community fainted, suffered an epileptic fit, or died without warning.

A woman and her daughter were accused of sorcery in PNG earlier this month and were tortured by relatives after the woman’s husband died of COVID-19 .

Attacks are often brutal, with victims hacked to death, maimed, gang-raped, slashed with knives, burned with hot irons or hit with rocks, leaving them horribly scarred – physically and mentally – for life.

Relatives can also be targeted by association: in the case of the family of five killed in Jharkhand state in February, a middle-aged couple was suspected of witchcraft, but their son, daughter-in-law and five-year-old grandson were also murdered.

Children of alleged witches are especially seen as a threat, human rights campaigners say.

The perpetrators rarely act alone but attack their victims in groups: in the latest case on Sunday in PNG, the two women were attacked and tortured by up to 20 men.

Police often say the attackers’ identities are known to them but communities and survivors may be reluctant to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement, meaning many perpetrators get away with their crime. 

Taking action

Some progress has been seen. The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act was passed in India in 2015, making it a crime to accuse anyone of sorcery. 

The Catholic Church’s Pontifical Mission Societies declared last year August 10 as World Day against Witch Hunts.

PNG repealed its 1971 Sorcery Act in 2013, which sanctioned sorcery-related violence. At the same time, it drafted a Sorcery National Action Plan to raise awareness about the issue and find ways to combat it.

The country even has a hotline now for anyone who may be the target of sorcery accusations. 

The latest cases however have prompted concerns that sorcery-related violence may be once again spreading. While such cases are usually found in the more remote regions of PNG, last weekend’s attack occurred in the capital.

While action plans and strategies have been drafted, funding and effective implementation are still wanting, local officials say.

Source: ‘Sorcery’ still a motive for torture, killing in 21st century

Africa Map

Uganda: human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

The death penalty as a deterrent – or as a revenge. Will this legal sanction provide a solution to the curse of ritual murders and the end of superstition in Uganda? 

Whereas all actions of the government to end ritual killing in the country must be applauded, I personally believe more in education as a tool to end these heinous crimes than in the capital punishment – which is considered a violation of the basic, human rights of the perpetrator(s) and for this reason rejected by the international community

Having said this, the following article contains a chilling mention of the state of affairs in Uganda with respect to the occurrence of ritual murders (‘human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon‘). 
(webmaster FVDK)

Human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

Businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi (right) appears at the Supreme Court early last year during hearing of his appeal against his conviction for murdering 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye in 2012. Persons found guilty of committing acts of mutilating and or causing death of another person for purposes of performing a ritual, and those found in possession of human body parts, will suffer death upon conviction. PHOTO /JULIET KIGONGO.

Published: May 6, 2021
By: Daily Monitor, Uganda – Esther Oluka, Arthur Arnold Wadero 

Whoever will be found guilty of sacrificing a person for ritual purposes faces a maximum punishment of death following the passing of a law on human sacrifice.

The Human Sacrifice Bill (2020), once assented to by the President, will also see those who finance acts of human sacrifice facing death.
Clause 1 of the Bill defines human sacrifice as killing, mutilation, removal of organs or body parts of a person for sale or for purpose of witchcraft, rituals or any harmful human practices. 

While presenting the Private Member’s Bill yesterday, which was overwhelmingly supported, Ayivu MP Benard Atiku argued that the current law does not provide for the offence of human sacrifice and that the human sacrifice related cases are prosecuted as murder or related offences under the Penal Code Act.

Human sacrifice is a widespread phenomenon involving people who seek quick means of amassing wealth or power. 
A renowned case is that of 2008 involving Joseph Kasirye, a boy (then aged 12 years) whose torso was found in a swamp, headless and with no genitals.

Businessman Kato Kajubi was found guilty of murder and was handed life imprisonment on conviction.
A section of MPs welcomed the passing of the Bill. 

“In fact, it is long overdue. Human sacrifice is not only inhumane but it is evil,” Mbale Woman MP Connie Galiwango said. 
Ms Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP) and Gulu Woman MP, said she did not understand why people were sacrificing children. 

“You go to a witchdoctor expecting to give you riches, yet that witchdoctor stays in a grass-thatched hut?” Ms Ocan wondered.
Kasese Municipality MP Robert Centenary commended the passing of the Bill after reasoning that adults are victims too. 

Previously, the perpetrators of human sacrifice have targeted people with specific features, including albinos, those without body piercings, big umbilical cords, a gap in their front teeth, among other features. 

Authorities, including police and religious leaders, have repeatedly highlighted that there is no connection between human sacrifice and riches. 
Meanwhile, Mr Emmanuel Jor Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP, had earlier recommended a harsher punishment for human sacrifice culprits. 

“I suggest that the people involved in the practice should be tried by the military and if found guilty, be put on firing squad because we really want to deter people from this practice.” 

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga stated that Parliament had now provided an opportunity for justice to all the victims of human sacrifice. 

“On a number of occasions, when children delegations come to visit me at Parliament, they ask me: ‘where is justice for Kasirye’. I think today (yesterday), we can answer that question and say that Parliament has now provided an avenue for justice for Kasirye and other victims like him,” Ms Kadaga said. 
Children often the most victims of human sacrifice.  

More on the Bill
●  Clause 5 says whoever encourages or advises any person to use human body parts in any ritual or their use in any treatment or other forms of healing would be liable to life imprisonment.
●  Under Clause 6, whoever is found in possession of human body parts and instruments of human sacrifice is liable to life imprisonment.
●  Clause 9 provides for psychosocial support to survivors of human sacrifice. 
●  Clause 10 provides for compensation, rehabilitation or restitution to be made by court in certain cases.

Source: Human sacrifice culprits face death penalty

Malawi: Police ask witchdoctors for help against attacks on albinos

It is unprecedented what recently happened in northern Malawi, in the Chitipa district, which is the country’s most northern district, near the Malawian-Zambian border. The police have asked witchdoctors and traditional herbalists to help in the protection of people with albinism (PWA).

Malawi has a relatively large number of people with albinism, an estimated 10,000. Attacks on them are frequent, people with albinism fear for their lives every second of the day. Reportedly, more than 200 attacks, kidnappings, mutilations and murders of persons with albinism have occurred since 2014. However, it must be feared that the real number is higher since not all incidents have been reported. 

Witchdoctors are allowed to practice in Malawi though – of course – officially the Malawian law does not recognize witchcraft. Superstition, however, is widespread in the country, hence also the use of the services of witchdoctors, an unknown number of them being somehow associated – to say the least – to the attacks on persons with albinism.  

The cry for assistance from the Malawian police directed to witchdoctors and  traditional herbalists is therefore remarkable. Is it comparable to asking mafia leaders help fighting murderers, kidnappers and other bandits? I don’t know whether this comparison is justified or whether it holds. In any case, the police asking witchdoctors to help against attacks on persons with albinism is a sign of incapacity, read: disqualification. If the police is unable to uphold the rule of law, Malawians have a serious problem and it is high time to have a serious debate on the organization and funding of the police force.

Recently, Amnesty International concluded that the trial of suspects of ritual murders is slow in Malawi. The question seems warranted: Is there a lack of political will? After all, it is common knowledge that in the past political forces and people have been implicated in the attacks on persons with albinism for ritual purposes. I have reported on these links on more than one occasion (e.g. see a recent posting dated April 30, 2021, and my postings of February 26, May 12, and August 28, 2019).
If this lack of political will is indeed the case, turning to witchdoctors for help is close to hypocrisy and useless, ineffective, and the problem will not be solved, the human rights of persons with albinism will continue to be under threat. 
(webmaster FVDFK)

Malawi: Police Ask ‘Witch-Doctors’ for Help Against Attacks On ‘Albinos’

Persons with albinism attending a meeting at State House

Published: May 4, 2021
By: Nyasa Times – Gladys Chingaipe 

“This would help to provide more protection to people with albinism.”

In an unprecedented manner, police in the northern tip of Malawi have gone on their bended knees and asked traditional herbalists and witchdoctors to help them in the fight against the incessant attacks on people with albinism.

Chitipa Police Station Officer, Dan Sowden in a desperate attempt to end the ongoing ritual killings and egregious human rights violations of the worst kind instigated specifically against people with albinism in the district and the country as a whole has asked traditional healers to work hand in hand with the police.

Snowden made the call last week during a meeting with herbalists and witchdoctors at Chitipa Boma where he expressed a growing concern and explained that there is a general outcry that herbalists and witchdoctors are suspected to be involved in attacks on people with albinism, hence the need to include them in efforts to end the vice.

He said: “We have established that it could be that those who are involved in the vice are not perhaps the real herbalists or genuine witchdoctors but may be some unscrupulous people with evil motives just posing and impersonating as herbalists and witchdoctors.”

“We know for a fact that both herbalists and witchdoctors exists to help people in a traditional way to solve traditional related problems and not to harm anyone and for that reason, we have therefore resolved that the herbalists and witchdoctors should be ambassadors and in the forefront to provide protection to people with albinism by reporting anyone who approaches them on issues to do with people with albinism.”

The police officer in-charge who is responsible for all security in the district called upon herbalists (and witchdoctors) in the district to be more organised and get licenses so that people could easily identify and report anyone falsely pretending to be a traditional healer.

President for Northern Region Traditional Healers, Edward Kayange said: “As herbalists, we are ready to work with the police in order to completely eradicate violence and discrimination against people with albinism.

“We will make sure that all traditional healers have certificates from one body to avoid confusion amongst ourselves. We will form committees which will be working hand in hand with the police and chiefs to report anyone involved in the malpractice,” he pointed out.

Chairperson for Chitipa District Association of People with Albinism, Mabvuto Lwinga said it was a step in the right direction for herbalists and witchdoctors alike to be working with the police.

“This is a good development. I am very optimistic that this would help to provide more protection to people with albinism,” said Lwinga.

The law in Malawi, however, does not recognise witchcraft although traditional healers and witchdoctors are allowed to practice their trade

‘Extra gear’

People with albinism are born with lighter than normal skin, hair and eye colour, making them sensitive to the sun and bright light and in some communities, especially among the African people they are attacked or even killed for their body parts which is erroneously believed to posses magical powers.

Since 2014 more than 200 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the Southern African landlocked nation.

According to United Nations (UN) human rights experts despite various moves to support people with albinism, the continued attacks demonstrate that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to end the ongoing atrocities.

UN’s Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero said: “We call on the Government of Malawi to urgently address the root causes of these attacks and to strengthen nationwide campaigns to raise awareness, conduct robust investigations and prosecutions in all cases, increase protection for victims, and finance and implement all necessary measures.”

Ero is on record having said that some witchcraft practices result in “serious human violations” such as torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities.

Maria Jose Torres, UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi says that the UN remains concerned about continued attacks against persons with albinism.

“We call on the government of Malawi to engage an extra gear in the fight against attacks on persons with albinism. We need to do more to ensure that this comes to a complete end.

Habiba Osman, Executive Secretary for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said in an interview with Nyasa Times that the ongoing attacks on persons with albinism is a chilling reminder that Malawi as a country needs to do more to protect people with albinism because they are not safe.

“These attacks on persons with albinism is largely fuelled by a culture of impunity. The government must tighten the noose on anyone suspected to have committed this heinous crime. Persons with albinism like anyone else are protected by the law,” said Osman.

Before being elected president, Malawi leader, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera rode on a wave that if elected, he would make sure that attacks on people with albinism will be put to an end.

“When I become president, anyone found killing, abducting or discriminating against any person with albinism will be dealt severely and face the long arm of the law.”

A recent Amnesty International (AI) report observes that the rate at which cases are concluded in Malawi is slow compared to other crime investigations.

There are approximately about 10,000 persons with albinism in Malawi.

Source: Malawi: Police Ask ‘Witch-Doctors’ for Help Against Attacks On ‘Albinos’