Atrocities, witchcraft, superstition and ritualistic cannibalism during Liberia’s First Civil War (1989-1997)

A former ULIMO commander stands trial in France accused of war crimes, human rights violations, murder and cannibalism.

The rebel fighters pictured here are not related to the story below

For shortness sake reference is made to Civitas Maxima’s monitoring of the arrest and trial of Kunti Kamara, a former ULIMO commander who was arrested in France in 2018. Kunti Kamara is accused of war crimes and human rights violations including torture, rape, murder and cannibalism committed during Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997) in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia. His trial started in Paris/France on October 10.

Ritualistic activities including ritual murder and acts of cannibalism are well-known in Liberia. This site has reported frequently on ritual murder cases, the discovery of mutilated bodies, and unexplained disappearances which allegedly are linked to ritualistic activities. Election periods and the back-to-back civil wars (1989-1997; 1999-2003) are notorious peaks in the occurrence of ritual murders.

As far back as the 1970s, President William Tolbert (1971-1980) condemned ritualistic murders (‘An eye for an eye‘) and refused to grant clemency to seven convicted ritual murderers in what was perhaps Liberia’s most notorious ritual murder case (‘the Harper Seven‘). In 2005, the Head of the LNTG, Gyude Bryant, warned presidential candidates not to commit ritual murders to boost their chances. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2006-2018) on more than one occasion spoke out against ritualistic murders. In 2017 people in Bong County protested against the ‘election year ritual killings’. More recently, during the Weah Administration (2018 – present), Liberia is again confronted with a wave of mysterious deaths, unexplained disappearances and ritual murders which has led politicians, religious leaders, civilians, to condemn these practices, urging President Weah to act.

Kunti Kamara is not the first or only rebel commander who’s being accused of ritual murder and cannibalism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission mentions in its 2009 Final Report that hundreds of Liberians were murdered for ritual purposes during the two civil wars. In his book The Mask of Anarchy (1999), the late Stephen Ellis accuses the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) who started Liberia’s first civil war, Charles Taylor, of drinking human blood during a juju ritual. Also Gibril Massaquoi, a RUF commander in neighboring Sierra Leone and a key-witness in the SCSL trial of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, was accused of murder for ritual purposes, but acquitted in April (2022).
(webmaster FVDK).

“I would never eat human heart” –
Kunti Kamara denies accusation before a French War Crimes court

Published: October 18, 2022
By: Prue Clarke, Front Page Africa – Monrovia, Liberia

PARIS, France – The former Ulimo commander Kunti Kamara, on trial here for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s civil wars, had his first chance to make a substantive response to the allegations made against him in the first five days of this trial.

Under questioning from the judges, civilian lawyers and prosecution lawyers Kamara denied all the accusations that victims have made against him of torture, rape, murder of civilians and “barbarism” in the town of Foya in Lofa County, Liberia between 1993 and 1994.

Kamara told the nine-person jury and four alternates that the accusations of cannibalism – that he roasted and ate the heart of a civilian who had allegedly reported his crimes to international observers – made him sick.

“Since I was arrested nothing bothered me in the trial like what they’re talking about now. Eating human beings,” Kamara said. “Even if I spend 100 years in jail I will not admit to eating a human being’s heart. Each time I hear it I want to vomit.”

“Since I was born until today I never eat pork,” said Kamara a Muslim. “Why should I eat human being heart? I have nothing to say. I am innocent. I don’t know them today. I don’t know them tomorrow.”

Kamara denied that he had ever knew anyone who had said they ate human heart including in rituals of the Poro, a traditional African society.

“Since I was small that is a rumor in the ear,” he said of Poro human sacrifice and consumption of human flesh. “But I never met anyone who said they ate heart.”

Kamara insisted that the Ulimo committed no atrocities against civilians in the four-month period he was with them in Foya though he conceded Ulimo may have committed atrocities elsewhere during the war.

He said Ulimo in Foya was under the ultimate command of Ulimo Commander Dekau. Kamara said his mandate was only as battalion commander in charge of platoons “on the frontlines”. He denied any leadership role in the town over civilians.

Kamara acknowledged Ulimo fighters that victims have identified in this trial “Ugly Boy”, “Fine Boy” and Alieu Kosiah, convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in 2021, were all with him in Foya but Kamara claimed he hardly ever saw them.

Kamara blamed the accusations that have brought him to trial here were part of a “plot” orchestrated by “a clique” led by Fayah Williams, the late deputy director at Global Justice and Research Project, the Liberian justice activists.

TRC Commissioner Massa Washington is interviewed by New Narratives’ Anthony Stephens after her testimony at the Paris trial

Late in the evening Massa Washington, the former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, gave a powerful testimony that could prove decisive in the trial.

It was designed to answer questions that jurors may have had about whether they should be passing judgement on a Liberian for crimes committed 30 years ago in a country a long way away. That was a question French journalists were asking eachother on the sidelines of the trial.

“These trials are important because they give them people of Liberia justice,” an emotional Washington told the jury. “They give us hope that one day we’ll be able to get justice with our own judges, our own prosecutors, on our own soil. In the meantime we are grateful that some of the people who committed these gross violations of human rights who are in this country, in the US, in every country in the world where they find them they can try to bring them to justice. In the absence of our government addressing accountability these trials are the Liberian people have.”

Washington thanked the jury.

“It sends a message that we belong to the universal human race,” Washington said. “It says that the world has not forgotten Liberia. It says that we all share that common human dignity. We have the same needs. We feel the same pain. We thank you for the opportunity to tell some of these stories. I hope this has provided an important clarification for why this trial is important.”

Washington told some of the horrors she had personally witnessed as a journalist in Monrovia during the first civil war. The jury was riveted by her testimony which made clear that the testimony they were hearing from witnesses here was just a fraction of the myriad atrocities that had been committed during the war. She told of rapes of girls as young as five and of elderly women. She said her work with women made it clear to her than many of the elderly women had not come forward to the TRC hearings because of the stigma.

She told the story of an 82-year-old woman who told her she was made a war wife.

“’I was raped all the time by boys who could have been my grandchildren,’” Massa quoted the woman as saying. “Her story is just one story that represents thousands of stories. The rebels were so bad that when people were on checkpoints trying to get away from the fighting the rebels were raping the wives in front of the husbands. They even forced sons to have sex with mothers in front of the family to destroy the men. They took the young girls away.”

Earlier in the day the fifth victim to testify against Kamara detailed the alleged torture, killing and cannibalism of a schoolteacher in Foya that all victims have claimed was directed by the defendant.

He also talked more broadly of the suffering of people in Lofa during Ulimo’s occupation of the town. His telling of the experience of the women he had planned to marry was a harrowing example of the broader suffering of the people.

“M. was my girlfriend and Ugly Boy took her as a sex slave,” the victim told the Paris court talking of the now deceased perpetrator that many victims have alleged was Kamara’s lieutenant who followed his orders to commit many of the crimes. The court has ordered press to withhold victims’ names for their security.

“This was another blow to me,” the victim told the court. ”I really planned to marry her. The first time I saw her after the war, it was painful, but it had happened. She was not at fault. I saw her but the stigma was too heavy. I could no longer take her as a wife. By tradition anyone who takes a wife after that is easily rejected from society. In addition, because of her time as a sex slave, she conceived. I am feeling it for her now because her situation is too deplorable.”

The trial continues Tuesday with more testimonies from victims about the murder of a woman in Lofa.

This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project. 

Source: Liberia: “I would never eat human heart” Kamara Tells War Crimes Court as TRC Commissioner Washington Makes a Powerful Case for the Legitimacy of the French Trial

And:

Liberia: “You are Kundi. You killed my sister”
A third victim identifies Kamara as perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

The three judges in the trial of Kunti Kamara in Paris, France (Credit: Leslie Lumeh/New Narratives)

Published: October 19, 2022
By: Anthony Stephens and Prue Clarke with New Narratives, Front Page Africa – Monrovia,

PARIS, France – On Tuesday a third victim identified Kunti Kamara, on trial for torture, cannibalism and crimes against humanity in the Paris Court, as “Co Kundi” the rebel commander who allegedly committed atrocities in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia.

The man was one of four plaintiffs who have brought the case against Kamara here in Paris, France where Kamara was living when he was arrested in 2019 after French investigators built a case against him.

“You are Kundi,” the man said turning to look at Kamara directly, barely containing his obvious emotion and rage. The plaintiff pointed at Kamara who was sitting behind his lawyers in a protective glass case. “I know you very well. You the one that killed my sister.”

The now elderly man told the court Kamara arrived at his house in Foya in late 1993 after the man’s sister’s baby had died. He alleged Kamara gave the family $L100 for their pain.

Soon after that Kamara allegedly ordered the victim’s sick and half naked sister – the mother of the child – dragged from the house. He accused her of witchcraft. The victim said Kamara and his troops had taken over the house for themselves and already had his wife, son and mother in custody at the time. Kamara did not know the man, who was standing with a crowd, was a member of the family.

The victim was overcome with tears as told the court that he had watched as Kamara put three bullets in his sister’s head.

Within months the man’s mother was also dead from illness. The victim blamed Kunti for the grief the murder of his sister had caused her.

“She cried every day,” he said. “So she became sick from not seeing my sister.”

The lawyer for the civil parties asked the victim if he had anything to say to Kamara but he took the opportunity to issue a warning to the judges instead.

“I’m very happy to see all the officers to take care of Kundi,” he said pointing to the court officers who accompany the defendant at all times. “This government should not leave Kundi to come back to Liberia.”

Kamara rejected all the allegations as he has done consistently throughout this trial.

“I’m just shocked,” an agitated Kamara told the president of the court Thierry Fusina. “I don’t know him. These people, it’s my first time to see them in my life. I don’t know them! They are lying on me. I’m not a criminal.”

Earlier in the day another witness to the alleged murder of the sick woman accused of witchcraft gave evidence that appeared to contradict testimony that he gave to an earlier investigating judge in the case.

Source: Liberia: “You Are Kundi. You Killed My Sister” – A Third Victim Identifies Kamara as Perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

Madagascar: angry mob attacks police station to kill four alleged kidnappers of albino child – Police opens fire

Reports on ritual killings in Madagascar are rare – which should not be understood as being the same as the absence of ritualistic murders – but the position of people with albinism (PWA) on this large Indian Ocean island is fragile, as I reported earlier this year (see my April 3 and June 16 postings).

A recent attack on a child with albinism in Ikongo, about 50 miles southeast of the capital Antananarivo, angered a mob which subsequently tried to invade a police station where four suspects of the kidnapping were being held in custody. The consequences can be read below.

The rule of law is a good thing, mob justice cannot be tolerated, but questions can be asked about the conditions and reasons which prompted police officers to use their deadly weapons.

Apart from this question, we would like to know the outcome of the interrogations of the four suspects and – above all – which measures the government of President Andry Rajoelina is taking to improve and protect the position of people with albinism on this large island.

Madagascar is an island situated east of the African continent, in the Indian Ocean, separated from mainland Africa by the Mozambique Channel.

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and the world’s second largest island-country (after Indonesia). It has a population of nearly 30 million people (2022). (webmaster FVDK)

Cops shoot dead 14 people and wound 28 in Madagascar as they open fire on crowd trying to break into police station to kill four men accused of kidnapping albino child

A crowd of around 500 angry villagers armed with machetes and knives descended on the local police station in Ikongo

Published: August 29, 2022
By: Daily Mail – Jack Newman for MAILONLINE

  • A crowd of 500 angry villagers descended on the Ikongo police station
  • They were demanding officers hand over the four alleged kidnappers
  • When they refused to back down, police opened fire, killing 14 people 

Police in Madagascar have shot dead at least 14 people and wounded 28 others after opening fire on a crowd of protesters angered at the kidnapping of an albino child.

A crowd of around 500 angry villagers armed with machetes and knives descended on the local police station in Ikongo calling for the release of the four suspects arrested yesterday, so they could be dealt with by the mob.The demonstrators then ‘tried to force their way in’ to the station, a police officer told AFP. 

‘There were negotiations, the villagers insisted,’ the officer said over the phone, adding police fired smoke grenades and shots in the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

‘They continued to force their way through… We had no choice but to defend ourselves,’ the police officer said.

Local doctor Tango Oscar Toky said ‘nine people died on the spot’ and another five died later in hospital.

Nine of those injured were in a critical condition, he said.

‘The gendarmes… fired on the crowd,’ local lawmaker Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa in the southeastern town of Ikongo told AFP.

Some sub-Saharan African countries have suffered a wave of assaults against people with albinism, whose body parts are sought for witchcraft practices in the mistaken belief that they bring luck and wealth.

Because of the superstition, their body parts can be sold for thousands of dollars and they are often targeted in ritual killings. 

Some believe that having sex with an albino woman can also cure AIDS. 

The kidnapping took place last week, according to Razafintsiandraofa, an MP for the Ikongo district about 50 miles southeast of the capital Antananarivo.

No further details were immediately available.

Madagascar, a large Indian Ocean island country, is ranked among the poorest in the world.

Source: Cops shoot dead 14 people and wound 28 in Madagascar as they open fire on crowd trying to break into police station to kill four men accused of kidnapping albino child

Malawi priest sentenced to 30 years for murder of man with albinism

Today’s posting and included article are a follow-up to a previous posting earlier this year, reporting the conviction of a Catholic priest and 11 others who had been on trial accused of murdering a man with albinism, MacDonald Masambuka, in 2018 (see my posting of May 4, 2022). Malawi is one of the unsafest places in Sub-Sahara Africa for people with albinism. Amnesty International has reported that at least 170 crimes targeted people living with albinism in Malawi since 2014. An estimated 20 of them were murders.

Though we welcome the rule of law leading to the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of the murderers of 22-year old MacDonald Masambuka, there is still a long way to go before all perpetrators of heinous crimes targeting people with albinism in Malawi face the full weight of justice.
(webmaster FVDK)

Malawi priest sentenced to 30 years for murder of man with albinism

The killing of people with albinism is linked to rituals associated with witchcraft

Published: June 30, 2022
By: Fredrick Nzwili – Catholic News service

Senegalese albinos attend an International Albinism Awareness Day event on June 13, 2017, in Dakar.
(Photo: AFP)

The Church will let justice take its course after the High Court in Malawi sentenced a priest to 30 years in prison for the murder of a man with albinism, said Archbishop George Desmond Tambala, president of the Malawian bishops’ conference.

Five other suspects were handed life sentences. One of them was the victim’s brother.

“We were shocked and we stand by the victims of that very terrible crime,” Archbishop Tambala told Catholic News Service June 29. “We have offered all the cooperation to see justice is done. We are shocked and we are at pains.”

“We as a church always preach about justice,” he added. “We have always stood by the people who are victims. We will let justice take its course. We stand by the rule of the law.”

The court handed down the sentence June 27. A judge sitting in the city of Blantyre said Father Thomas Muhosha had planned to sell the body parts of MacDonald Masambuka, 22, violently killed in 2018. Masambuka was lured into a death trap after his killers lied that they had found him a wife.

The victim went missing from his village in southern Malawi in February 2018. Nearly a month later, his burned, limbless body was found buried in a garden at the home of one of his killers.

“There is an issue with our African culture, and I think the whole church in sub-Saharan Africa needs to confront some beliefs, which I think are very dangerous”

Recently, Malawi has experienced violent attacks on people with albinism. Last year, Amnesty International reported the occurrence of at least 170 crimes targeting people living with albinism in Malawi since 2014; 20 of them were murders.

“It’s very unusual and not part of us. The whole issue of killing albinos is very strange in Malawi. We do not know how we ended up in this kind of issue,” said Archbishop Tambala.

The attacks are driven by superstitious beliefs that body parts and bones from albinos bring wealth or good luck to those who possess them. Such cases also have been reported in Tanzania.

Although many hoped the sentencing in Malawi would deter any other future attacks and killings, Archbishop Tambala thinks otherwise.

“I think we need to go beyond that,” he said. “There is an issue with our African culture, and I think the whole church in sub-Saharan Africa needs to confront some beliefs, which I think are very dangerous.”

Source: Malawi priest sentenced to 30 years for murder of man with albinism

Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission advocates strong mechanisms to fight harmful practices against children – AU Day of the Child marked in Ghana

Last Thursday, June 16, was the Day of the African Child, created by the organization of African Unity in 1991, and triggered by sad events in South Africa. The Day of the African Child is celebrated on the African continent and around the world.

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest country in terms of population and number of childen, where an estimated 75 million children live, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) paid attention to the event. Nigeria is no exception on the African continent where harmful practices threaten and affect the lives of millions of innocent and defenseless children. Among these practices we note child marriage, child trafficking, rape, female genital mutilation, infanticide and other forms of violence against children, some of whom are accused of being witches, some of whom are being targeted for ritualistic purposes, notably children with albinism.

Also in Ghana, the Volta Region office of the Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), in collaboration with Plan International, Ghana, celebrated this year’s African Union Day of the African Child.

Mr Seth Kwasi Agbi, the District Chief Executive for South Tongu, in a keynote address, condemned all harmful acts such as child trafficking, child labour, and ritualistic murders which also victimize children.
(webmaster FVDK)

NHRC advocates strong mechanisms to fight harmful practices against children

Published: June 17, 2022
By: Michael Olugbode, This Day – Nigeria

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has reiterated the need to devise and strengthen national accountability mechanisms that will deter harmful practices against children, so as to enable them to attain all-around development in life.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu, stated this in his welcome remarks at the commemoration of the 2022 Day of the African Child (DAC).

He noted that the celebration was an opportunity to take stock of what has been done with regards to the adoption of policies and practices targeted at eliminating harmful practices affecting children in Nigeria.

Ojukwu, who was represented at the event by the Director of Monitoring Department, Mr. Benedict Agu, said the 2022 theme of the celebration: ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’,  is appropriate as it seeks to address the peculiar human rights challenges affecting children.

He noted that these challenges, are negative harmful practices such as early/forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child trafficking among others.

He stated that against this background, the commission’s role in advancing the campaign to end harmful practices affecting children is hinged on its mandate to promote, protect and enforce the rights of all persons in Nigeria.

According to him, “Notably, the commission was a critical partner in the advocacy for the passage of the Child’s Rights Act 2003, and has been involved in continued advocacy for its adoption into Child Rights Laws of about 26 states of the federation.

“It is also a member of the State Child Rights Implementation Committee of several states in Nigeria and has continued to advocate for the mainstreaming of children’s rights in relevant policies of the government.”

Ojukwu stated that the commission has further prioritised Child Rights in its work through the creation of the Department of Women and Children, and the thematic team on the Rights of the Child, which have enabled it to take action against pervasive child rights abuses such as child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), infanticide, child trafficking among others.

In her key message, a member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Ms. Aver She said the commemoration of DAC is an opportunity to sensitise duty bearers on the importance of engaging children in their own issues and promoting participation as well as inclusion in line with the principles of child participation.

Gavar, who is also the director of Human Rights Education and Promotion in the commission, said the focus of the DAC 2022 is also to respond to the high prevalence of harmful practices affecting children in different parts of Africa, including rape, FGM, child marriage, infanticide among others.

She urged the government to strengthen its child protection system through increased budgetary lines across sectors dealing with child rights implementation and through the establishment of one-step centres for integrated response to child survivors of rape, child marriage, FGM and all forms of violence against children.

In her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, disclosed that the ministry has made progress in spearheading a range of policy documents to address harmful cultural practices, like the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act (CRA) 2003, National Guidelines on Establishment of Child Care Institutions, and National Strategy on Elimination of Child Marriage.

Source: NHRC Advocates Strong Mechanisms to Fight Harmful Practices against Children

AU Day of the African child marked in South Tongu, Volta Region, Ghana.

Mr Israel Akrobortu, the Volta Regional Director of the Department of Children,

Published: June 17, 2022
By: News Ghana, Ghana News Agency – GNA

The Volta Region office of the Department of Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), in collaboration with Plan International, Ghana, have celebrated this year’s African Union Day of the African Child with a call to end harmful practices affecting children. 

In an address, Mr Israel Akrobortu, the Volta Regional Director of the Department of Children, said some traditional customs and practices conflicted with children’s rights and were harmful to their development. 

“Child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation are two of the most discriminatory harmful cultural practices that have been committed regularly over long periods that some communities and societies have come to accept,” he said. 

Mr Akrobotu called on duty bearers to take urgent steps to stop such negative practices, which were affecting children, especially female genital cutting, to protect the vulnerable, especially girls from all unnecessary and dangerous practices.

Mr Seth Kwasi Agbi, the District Chief Executive for South Tongu, in a keynote address, said it was important to focus on the vital efforts of communities and child rights activists working on policies and practices to eliminate “these harmful practices affecting children on the continent.” 

He explained that the acts, such as child trafficking, child labour, ritual murder, and defilement, if not curbed and eventually eliminated, would be detrimental to the growth and development of the continent. 

Mr Alfred Dzikunoo, Programmes Coordinator, and a representative from Plan International, Ghana, said Plan Ghana had made many contributions to end the canker against the Ghanaian Child. 

The interventions include empowering girls with life skills, knowledge and networks to become empowered agents of change in their own lives, engagement of duty-bearers such as GHS, DOVVSU, and DSW to improve education on child marriage FGM, and child labour.

Torgbi Atsugah Sogah Il, a Divisional chief from Fieve Traditional Area, implored participating students to be good ambassadors and serve as role models for other children in their communities as well as cultivate the habit of championing the right to education. 

The 2022 celebration was on the theme: “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practices since 2013.” 

Comboni Senior High Technical School garnered 18 points against 15 by Sogakope Senior High School (SOGASCO) to win the debate on the topic: “Has the policies on harmful socio-cultural practices affecting children since 2013 curbed the menace,?” 

The “Day of the African Child” dates back to 1991 when the African Union (AU) initiated a remembrance of the children who lost their lives in a peaceful protest in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976. 

The event attracted school children, officials from the South Tongu District Education Directorate, teachers, local government staff, and traditional rulers within the South Tongu District.

Source: AU Day of the African child marked in South Tongu

Districts in the Volta Region, Ghana.


Shocking report on rural infanticide, violence against children accused of witchcraft, and ritual attacks against children with albinism in 19 SSA countries

In a recently released document of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks, it is being reported that “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.

In the document, 19 Sub-Sahara African countries are mentioned as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, ritual attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.

The 19 SSA countries are scattered across the continent and it is believed – in view of the scarcity of data – that the cases which have come to light only constitute the tip of the iceberg.

It goes without saying that there is no place in the 21st century for these practices and crimes.

Warning: Some readers may find the following story disturbing
(webmaster FVDK).

Cult-related attacks against children still occur in at least 19 SSA countries

Published: June 2, 2022
By: LUSA – Macau Business dot com

Angola is the only Portuguese-speaking African country mentioned in a report released on Wednesday by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) on the practice of ritual attacks against children.

In the document, “Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks”, presented Tuesday in a video conference from Addis Ababa, “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.

ACPF executive director Joan Nyanyuki argues in the introduction that “across the African continent, much has been done to improve laws and policies aimed at ending violence against children.”

“Some progress has been made in establishing the systems and structures needed to implement and enforce these policies and laws. These efforts, however, have not sufficiently addressed an important dimension of violence against children: accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks,” it adds.

In the document, 19 countries are referenced as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.

“The report documents, to the extent possible in light of the scarcity of data, how widespread accusations of witchcraft are across the continent (although they vary in extent over time and from place to place). Best estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of children face accusations every year in Africa and subsequently suffer serious violations.”

Examples given by the document point to reported cases of ritual infanticide in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Niger, while Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Essuatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have reported ritual attacks on children with disabilities.

Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania have reported attacks on children with albinism and in South Africa, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania cases of violence against children accused of being witches are reported.

“To protect children from the harm of witchcraft accusations, it is not necessary to deny that ‘witchcraft’ exists. Instead, it is important to prioritise child protection while preventing child abuse by addressing the belief that such abuse can somehow protect communities from perceived danger,” the document argues.

The research that resulted in the report found that with the exception of work done by some non-governmental organisations, “few organisations and states in Africa make systematic efforts to prevent such abuse”.

“Few prohibit accusations. Services for children who have suffered harm and violence related to accusations are few and far between. This area needs urgent attention,” argues the report.

Joan Nyanyuki argues “a comprehensive and coordinated effort by state and non-state actors is needed to uncover the nature, magnitude and impact of violence related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. This approach will ensure that child protection systems, laws and policies are enhanced to adequately address these forms of violence against children.”

Source: Angola: Cult-related attacks against children still occur in country – report

Also see the following linksWarning: some readers may find the following stories and photos disturbing

How Nigeria’s fear of child ‘witchcraft’ ruins young lives
ALJAZEERA – Marc Ellison, November 14, 2018

‘They accused me of killing and eating my grandmother’: Agony of Congo’s 50,000 ‘child witches’ who are brutally exorcised to ‘beat the devil out of them’
Daily Mail UK / MailOnLine, Nick Fagge, October 19, 2015

Child-witches of Kinshasa
The Eye Of Photography – L’ŒIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE January 2, 2012

‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children’ – June 22, 2009

Saving Africa’s Witch Children (dated June 22, 2009) reporting on how thousands of small children in Nigeria are branded witches. The web page also contains a large number of news reports and articles (2005-2009) including websites of organizations fighting against these cruel and illegal practices.

Africa Map

Malawi: killed for their bones – on the trail of the trade in human body parts

There is hardly any doubt that in Malawi the position of people with albinism is the most fragile and dangerous as compared to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have repeatedly mentioned this here, see e.g. my posting earlier this year, on January 22.

In 2017, ALJAZEERA reported that In Malawi, more than 115 people had been attacked in the past two years and that at least 20 of them did not survive the attack. Below follows an extensive report of ALJAZEERA on the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators (as far as known).

ALJAZEERA is to be commended for raising awareness on the human rights violations people with albinism experience and the efforts being made to protect them.

ALJAZEERA is to be commended for this excellent work of investigative journalism and the attention thus paid to this curse. People with albinism face discrimination in at least 23 African countries. For many, this discrimination amounts to insecurity, violence & murder.

Also in the current year, ALJAZEERA paid attention to the plight of people with albinism, on June 13, International Albinism Awareness Day, with a series of tweets. Click here to access the tweets.

Warning: some readers may find the following stories disturbing (webmaster FVDK).

Published: June 13, 2022
By: ALJAZEERA

Killed for their bones – On the trail of the trade in human body parts

In Malawi, people with albinism are being killed and their bodies harvested; children and adults hacked to death with machetes and kitchen knives. More than 115 people have been attacked in the past two years, at least 20, fatally. Those who have survived have been left with deep physical and psychological scars, and remain fearful that those who hunt them will return.

But why is this happening? Ask and most people will talk about an elusive market for these body parts, people who are prepared to pay large sums of money for them and witch doctors who use them in potions to cure everything from disease to bad luck. But few seem to know where this trade actually takes place or to be able to point to an instance of money changing hands.

So, does this market of human body parts really exist, or is it a myth that is driving murder? We went in search of the market and found a toxic mix of witchcraft, poverty and desperation.

Here are the stories of the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators.

The condition that makes me black without black, white but not white. That is how it was, and I will tell you all about it. – Petina Gappah, The Book of Memory

1 – The Victims

David’s story

Village of Nambilikira, Dedza district, eastern Malawi

It was a Sunday in April 2016. A warm, dry day. Seventeen-year-old David Fletcher was being moody and withdrawn. He wanted to watch a football match at the local school instead of helping his family gather maize in the fields. His parents eventually relented and let him go.

When he didn’t return later that day, they searched the village, but couldn’t find David.

The next day, they walked to the nearest police station to report him missing. Then they waited.

A week later, the local police chief came to their home to deliver the news: David’s dismembered body had been found, 80km away, in neighbouring Mozambique. It was badly decomposed, he told them. It couldn’t be brought to the village for burial, but he could bring the arms and legs, if they wished. And if the family could afford the journey, they could visit it where it was found.

“He was dead. What benefit was there to see his dead body?” Fletcher Machinjiri, David’s 65-year-old father, asks, dismissively. “It was too expensive for us.”

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Fletcher is sitting outside his house. His 53-year-old wife, Namvaleni Lokechi, sits beside him. Her face is expressionless. Their 32-year-old daughter Mudelanji and 21-year-old son Manchinjiri sit on the hard earth a few metres away. They listen as though it is the first time they have heard the story.

“He was killed like a goat at a market,” Lokechi says, staring into the distance. “His arms and legs had been chopped off. They broke off some of his bones. His skin was hanging. And they buried him in a shallow grave.”

He was killed like a goat at a market. His arms and legs had been chopped off.– Namvaleni Lokechi, the mother of David Fletcher, a murdered 17-year-old

She makes chopping motions with her hands as she speaks.

“We cry every day,” Fletcher says. “To us, he was a ray of hope. We believed in his future. We thought he would lift our hand because he was good at school.” 

“We still battle to eat without him.”

‘A war against people with albinism’

Born in 1999, David was the fourth of five siblings – and the only one to have been born with albinism.

“I wasn’t surprised when he was born,” David’s mother says softly. “I was more than happy with his complexion.”

Her tiny frame stiffens when she talks about her son.

She had an aunt in Blantyre with the same congenital disorder that results in a partial absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, she explains. 

“I’ve always felt that this group of people were lucky in life,” she says slowly.

David was a star pupil at the local school in the neighbouring village of Kachule.

His teacher, Clement Gweza, recalls feeling mildly concerned when he didn’t turn up for school that Monday. 

“I thought maybe there were no groceries at home, or maybe he was unwell,” Clement says, sitting inside his empty classroom. “But the second day [he didn’t turn up] … then I got worried.”

When he learned what had happened to David, he says, he was shocked. “It meant I was next,” he says, placing his hands on his chest. 

For Clement also has albinism.

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So, too, does 14-year-old Latida Macho, another pupil at the school. She is one of five siblings with the condition. After David’s murder, her family refused to send her to school for three weeks.

“If this is war against people with albinism, then it means I’m second in line,” Clement reflects.

He says he knew that people with albinism were being murdered, but “for it to happen in the district, but also in my class, it was unreal”.

Within days, two men were arrested for the murder.

Both Malawians, they were tried in a district court in May 2016 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit a crime and abduction. 

David’s family say they heard about the arrests and subsequent trial only from the media. And that they are bitterly disappointed with the outcome.

“The accused persons should be killed as well,” Fletcher says, pointing to the floor. “The child was brutally killed, hence they must equally be killed brutally.”

Alfred’s story

Village of Nasi, district of Phalombe, eastern Malawi

Seventeen-year-old Alfred Chigalu lives with his aunt in a mud home surrounded by dead sunflowers. 

Their courtyard of red earth is home to five goats and a dozen raucous chickens.

The nearest neighbour is a five-minute walk away, along a path cut through overgrown grass. It takes 20 minutes – across dried up tobacco fields – to reach the main road. Drought has hit this region hard, and while tall mango trees provide shade for the farmers, they bear no fruit.

The climate here is harsh. Crops are often destroyed by drought or violent hailstorms. Like others in the village, Alfred and his aunt, Lydia Petulo, are surviving on pieces of dried maize from last year’s harvest. The goats in the yard are not their own. Lydia looks after them for a local merchant, and receives one at the end of each year in return.

In December 2015, four men broke down the door of Alfred’s bedroom while he was sleeping. They slashed at him with machetes, hitting the back of his head, his shoulders and his back. They tried to drag him out of the house. When his aunt found him in a pool of his own blood, his attackers ran away.

Alfred survived but was left badly scarred.

Now, the slightest sound wakes him, and when he walks to the village he must be accompanied.

“Before the attack I used to depend on him; I could send him to the market, he could go to the farm and do the farming,” Lydia says, biting her lips as she completes her sentences.

“But I cannot do the same these days.”

“I fear for his life. The responsibility has shifted to me.”

But this isn’t the first time she has been afraid for her nephew. She took him out of school six years ago, when the taunting began, she explains. 

Lydia slouches as she narrates their story. Her tired eyes wander. But they brighten when she talks about Alfred. She adopted him after his mother – her sister – died.

Alfred had a sibling who also had albinism, but that child died, she recalls. She doesn’t remember the dates or the details – of his sibling’s or his parents’ deaths – other than that both of Alfred’s parents died around the time he took his first steps.

‘I am lonely’

Alfred is sitting outside on the floor, his back against the house, wearing oversized jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. They are the only clothes he owns. He was wearing his other outfit when he was attacked. There was so much blood that it had to be burned.

On his head is a large cowboy hat. 

He is tall with broad shoulders that droop when he walks. For the first few hours that we are there, he doesn’t talk.

But when we put the camera away and move out of sight of the curious neighbours who have gathered to watch, he begins to speak.

His parched lips barely move.

“I wake up at 6 in the morning, every day. I sweep the yard, but I feel pain in my arms,” he says slowly.

He removes his shirt to reveal long, deep scars on his chest and back.

“The way they cut me, they cut my veins. I can barely hold a hoe,” he explains.

I want to finish school, to become a teacher, and move out of here. I would love if someone could take me away from this village. I have to get out of this place.– Seventeen-year-old Alfred Chigalu, who was attacked in November 2015

When she found him on the floor, Lydia began to scream and cry.

“The neighbours came, but it was too late, the attackers had left,” she says. “I really felt sorry for him when I looked at him and I knew he was lucky to have survived. He would have been killed if he hadn’t screamed for me.”

She says she knows why he was attacked.

“Before the attack, some people used to mock him if he went outside the house. They [would say] he is worth millions of kwacha [thousands of dollars], so that gave us an indication that his life could be in danger,” Lydia explains.

The physical wounds have mostly healed, but life is not the same for Alfred. He misses “chatting”, he says, shyly, before adding: “Most of all I miss my friends. I am lonely.”

His aunt says he “lacks peace”.

In April 2016, Ikponwosa Ero, the UN’s independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, visited Alfred and his aunt. She told Al Jazeera that Alfred seemed to have suffered “memory loss” after the attack. But when we visit him two months later, he rolls off the names of towns in Malawi, capital cities of African countries and national political leaders. He seems to be recovering.

Fiddling with a piece of dry hay, he tells us: “I want to finish school, to become a teacher, and move out of here. I would love if someone could take me away from this village. I have to get out of this place.”

Hari’s story

Village of Mpakati, Machinga district, southern Malawi

Edna Cedric remembers that night in February 2016.

Her husband, Marizane Kapiri, had gone fishing. Her identical nine-year-old twins, Hari and Harrison, were sleeping beside her.

She heard a knock at the door. When she answered it, a machete-wielding man barged inside, slashing at her.

He pulled Hari from the bed and dragged him to the door. Edna tried to hold on to him while also gripping Harrison with her other hand. 

Then the intruder struck her face with the machete and she fell to the floor. And, just like that, her son was gone.

The police brought the head wrapped in a cloth and in a sack. His mother identified it.– Marizane Kapiri, Hari’s stepfather 

“I couldn’t hold on to him any longer,” she says, quietly. “I ran out screaming.”

“Four days later, the police found his head in Mozambique.”

“The place was very lonely. This is why we moved here,” her husband says.

The fisherman is not the father of Edna’s children. He says he spent the best part of the five days after Hari was abducted explaining to the police why he wasn’t at home when the attack took place. They suspected that he was involved and it wasn’t until the village chief explained to them that he spent much of his time at the lake, catching fish to feed the family, that the police let him go.

“After the police discovered the head, they sent a message to us that we should be ready to see it,” Marizane explains. “They brought the head wrapped in a cloth and in a sack. His mother identified it.” 

According to Amnesty International, two men were arrested in connection with Hari’s murder. One was said to be an uncle, and the other a stranger who had an existing conviction for possessing the bones of a person with albinism. For that crime, he had been fined $30.

The family, though, say they have no idea who was responsible for the attack and what has become of those who were arrested.

The twin brother

Harrison is wearing pyjamas and a cowboy hat. He sits between his parents as they take turns to talk. He fiddles with the cords of his hat, licks his cracked lips and scratches at the dry skin on his arms. He only returned to school in September 2016, eight months after his brother was taken.

Their mudbrick home is in a remote rural area, far from the main road between Blantyre and Mangochi. Houses here sit in small plots on expansive fields. It is a few minutes’ walk to the nearest neighbours through fields of browning plants that haven’t been harvested in a year. Here, police officers are few and far between.

But this is not where Hari was taken from. That home was even more isolated, Marizane explains.

“We demolished the house … and moved here so we are closer to other people,” he says.

But the move hasn’t changed much for the remaining brother, Harrison. 

“He wakes up in the middle of night, screaming, because he can’t find his brother. We just tell him he will come back one day,” Marizane explains. 

He wakes up in the middle of night, screaming, because he can’t find his brother.– Marizane Kapiri, whose stepson, Hari, was murdered

Edna says that she can’t get over the pain she felt when she saw Hari’s head.

“I immediately thought about his brother, Harrison, and I knew his life would never be the same,” she says, looking at her surviving son.

2 – A History of Violence

Borrowed from the word “albus”, meaning white in Latin, albinism is a congenital disorder where the body is unable to create enough melanin to darken the skin, hair and eyes.

The non-contagious condition affects about one in 20,000 people worldwide. But it is more common in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in 5,000 have albinism. Most cases are in Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

In Malawi, a country of 16.5 million people, there are said to be 7,000 to 10,000 people with albinism.

Why it affects this part of the world so disproportionately is unclear.

And it is not just a matter of colour: lack of melanin often results in poor vision and sensitivity to light. In fact, many people with albinism are legally blind.

Because their skin is particularly vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, they can also be predisposed to skin cancer and lesions.

According to a 2014 study, people with albinism in Africa are 1,000 times more likely to get skin cancer than others.

But their plight is not solely medical.

The story of discrimination against people with albinism is an old but not necessarily well-documented one. It is driven by myths and superstition.

According to Amnesty International, those with albinism face discrimination in 23 countries in Africa.

For many, this discrimination amounts to violence – murder, infanticide and live burials.

The past decade has seen an increase in the number of documented killings and maimings of people with the condition, driven in part by a belief that their organs, bones and body parts can be sold on the black market.

And that belief is fed by the myth that their bones are made of gold dust and the suggestion that they are a necessary component of magic potions.

But while there are reports of bones reaching up to $75,000 on the black market, there have been no documented cases of money changing hands. So the question of whether an organised trade in the body parts of people with albinism exists has yet to be definitively answered.

The UN’s Ikponwosa Ero says they have been unable to confirm the existence of a market.

“There is allegedly a lot of money in this business. And I say allegedly because people keep on repeating the idea that there is a lot of money in this, and it would seem that the media is part of the reason some people have gotten involved,” she says. “But then some countries have witnessed a reduction in the number of attacks, maybe because people are realising there is no value [in the bones and body parts].”

The majority of the documented attacks have taken place in the Great Lakes region, particularly Tanzania and Burundi. According to media reports, Tanzania has seen some 180 attacks, including 76 murders, since 2000. Thirty-five of those murders took place in 2015.

Within eight months of her appointment as the UN’s independent expert on albinism in June 2015, Ikponwosa, who herself has albinism, documented 40 attacks in eight countries. 

Although there has long been discrimination, she points to a more recent phenomenon: “Hacking people [with albinism] alive.”

‘Millions, millions’

Zomba, southern Malawi

Emily Chiumia works at a government department in Zomba, southern Malawi. But she moonlights as an activist for people with albinism.

She’s happy to talk, even if the topic is the names they call her.

“You walk on the street, and they call you ‘millions, millions’,” she laughs, “as if we are gold.”

Emily is the former vice-president of the Association for Persons with Albinism (APAM). Since the attacks began, Emily and the association have been documenting the offences committed against people like her.

Most of them, she says, are carried out by relatives, neighbours or people the victims considered to be friends.

“Before, it was a case of people saying ‘if you sleep with a person with albinism, your skin will turn white’,” she says. “But now, it’s different. I cannot enjoy my life as I used to … I can’t walk in the evenings, can’t sleep, even at home, I fear who might come.” Her laugh has disappeared now.

You walk on the street, and they call you ‘millions, millions’, as if we are gold.– Emily Chiumia, former vice-president of the Association for Persons with Albinism

Radio DJ Ian Sambota describes how in 2012 he was befriended by an “older, educated” woman who first offered him K100,000 ($138) and then K500,000 ($700) to sleep with her. “She was HIV positive and she thought if she slept with a person with albinism, it would be solved,” he says.

Ian refused, but admits that the offer was tempting because he needed the money to pay for medical care for his mother.

Steven Burgess is in his 40s and says he has been called a “white animal” since he was a child. But this is “a time of crisis”, he explains, referring to the increase in attacks.

Bazirio Kaudzu, 46, says he feels so threatened that he only travels to the clinic in the capital Lilongwe – to collect the zinc oxide ointment needed to treat the lesions and blisters on his skin – if his nephew accompanies him. It’s an expensive journey for the tomato farmer, so each month he must take out a loan to cover the cost of the taxi ride for two.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Patricia Maguwa, 37, remembers a time when her husband, gospel singer Geoffrey Zigoma, was considered one of the golden voices of Malawian music. Before he died of cancer in 2013, he always tried to offer a counter-narrative to the misperceptions about people with albinism, she says.

“He was called names like ‘yellow man’, but he never felt insecure about his life,” she says from her modest home 7km outside Lilongwe. “[But] the situation is different now.”

A shifting trade

Malawi’s government recognises that there is a problem.

Neverson Chisiza, a senior state advocate at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, says there have been at least 85 documented cases, including murder, assault, attempted abductions, trafficking, maiming, and grave robberies since 2014. At least 20 of those cases have been murder.

In May 2016, Ikponwosa Ero said that if serious action wasn’t taken to stop the attacks, people with albinism could become extinct in Malawi.

Malawi’s government says a crackdown in neighbouring Tanzania has shifted the “trade” in body parts to their country.

Senior Chief Kawinga, a traditional authority from Malawi’s Machinga district, where most of the attacks have taken place, told us during a visit to his office that he’d heard the market for body parts was in neighbouring Mozambique. Each country in the region tends to posit their neighbour as the source of the problem.

Though many people tend to use the term “albino”, there have been significant attempts to change the terminology to “person with albinism”. Ikponwosa Ero says this is preferred as it puts the person before the condition, while Canadian charity Under the Same Sun points to the fact that albino has historically been used in a derogatory manner.

In June 2016, 150 government officials, academics and activists from 26 countries met in Dar es Salaam for the first forum on albinism in Africa. It aimed to create an action plan to end the attacks, and concluded that governments must dedicate a budget and a multisectoral task force to doing so. It recommended a range of measures and best practices. “Now that we have a catalogue of effective specific measures that are not very expensive to execute, governments should no longer act ignorant of what to do on the issue … It is time to act,” said Ikponwosa Ero.

3 – The Perpetrators

Zomba, southern Malawi

The red brick walls glisten in the midday sun.

Zomba Maximum Prison stands like a citadel in the former capital. It might resemble a factory were it not for its watch towers and the metal fence that encircles it. Flanked by mango trees and shrubs, a dirt track leads to the main entrance.

Inside, some 2,365 prisoners are either awaiting trial or serving time for some of the most serious of crimes: murder, abduction, trafficking, and armed robbery.

The prison’s director, Major Manwell, greets us at the front door – an almost three-metre tall gateway made of green steel. He is wearing a khaki safari suit and leather sandals.

“How can I help you?” he asks with a knowing smile.

Manwell hands us over to two prison guards who lead us into an open corridor between the front desk and the staff kitchen. A makeshift clothes line hangs nearby. We sit on a bench, shaded by the prison’s towering walls.

Over the next three hours, we will meet eight prisoners who are either awaiting trial or have been convicted of playing some part in an attack on somebody with albinism.

One at a time, they sit opposite us on another wooden bench, a translator beside them.

A guard sits at a distance – far enough that his presence doesn’t feel intrusive, but close enough to eavesdrop. His body language tells us when he finds an inmate’s story of interest. When he doesn’t, he slumps back into his leather chair.

Just two of the inmates acknowledge that their case is related to someone with albinism. Most insist that they were framed or have been wrongly accused. Only one admits to having committed a crime.

“They are not able to come to terms with their crimes,” says the guard, removing his cap so that he can scratch his head. “They are in denial.”

The tomb raider

Stenala Shaibu Lizahapa is wearing a clean white shirt and tattered jeans. He takes his seat slowly and crosses his legs. A thin row of rosary beads pass through his fingers. Stenala is not in a hurry. Unlike the others, he doesn’t fidget. He simply sits and waits.

He is in his mid-30s and has been convicted of trespassing on a gravesite to remove three bones from the body of a deceased man named Awali Mandevu.

Along with five others, he was caught trying to sell the bones to an undercover police officer in April 2015.

All six were charged with criminal trespassing, removal of human tissue and selling human bones.

Three of them, including Stenala, pleaded guilty. Two others denied the charges and were acquitted, while the case against the sixth was dropped.

Stenala was sentenced to six years in prison.

He says he has made peace with his crime.

“What I did was wrong, but I felt desperate,” he says softly, only briefly making eye contact. “I feel ashamed.”

If there is a market [for bones], I don’t know… I would have believed it if I saw it. – Stenala Shaibu Lizahapa, sentenced to six years in prison for selling human bones

As a fisherman, he says he was earning K500 (70 cents) a day. So when friends asked if he’d help them deliver a set of bones to a client – promising it would make him “rich enough to drive” – he says he was tempted.

“With my income, I can’t afford a motorcycle, but a car – that was a dream … The devil took over me,” he says.

In early April 2015, Stenala travelled with friends from Machinga to his home district of Jali, where he went to Chinangwa, a village neighbouring his own, in search of a grave he’d been told housed the corpse of a person with albinism.

“Who doesn’t want more money?” he asks rhetorically. “I knew it was wrong, but I did it for my family.”

“If there is a market [for bones], I don’t know,” he says. “I would have believed it if I saw it.”

The victim’s family

Chinangwa village, Zomba district, southern Malawi

In the village of Chinangwa, Emily Emisi is sitting on a straw mat outside her mud brick and thatch-roofed home.

She offers us a mat on which to sit – between a couple of brown puppies and some corn drying in the winter sun.

“Why didn’t you call before you came?” the 36-year-old asks with a smile. “I would have cooked.”

Her generosity betrays her means. Her open yard – like the barren plateau that surrounds it – is hard brown earth. A few mango and small kachere trees surround the settlement.

Three children sit on the floor. For a while, they watch curiously. But when the novelty of strangers wears off, they return to kicking a punctured miniature football.

“It was my grandfather’s grave that Stenala dug up,” Emily says. “It was terrible. He was buried a long time [ago], in the 1990s. And this felt like a second funeral for him.”

Emily says it didn’t come as a surprise to many of the villagers when they learned that Stenala was responsible.

“He was known to steal goats,” she says.

Stenala had got into an argument with his brother weeks before when he’d tried to persuade him to help find the bones, Emily explains. His brother had refused and the argument had turned into a fight. The whole village heard about it, she says.

“Then, he tried to romance an albino girl, but the girl refused and told villagers that she was being pursued by him.”

She is “happy he has been put away”, she says, because he would “terrorise the village”.

Someone close to Stenala must have betrayed him, Emily speculates, because nobody knew that the village graveyard had been tampered with.

But, while she has no doubt that Stenala had been searching for the bones of somebody with albinism, Emily says he dug up the wrong grave.

“My grandfather, Awali Madenvu, was not an albino. But his grave was close to an albino and so they got the wrong bones.”

That wouldn’t have made any difference anyway – the penalty in Malawi is the same.

Because his was not a case of murder or attempted murder, Stenala wasn’t eligible for legal aid and so had no representation in court.

He was tried, sentenced and given 30 days to appeal.

When we tell Emily that Stenala admits his guilt and is remorseful, she clicks her tongue and looks away. “Of course, after the hardship in jail, he is going to be remorseful,” she says.

“He is not someone who will change. We all think that his sentence is too short, and we expect him to come back and teach us a lesson.”

‘I will wait for him’

As the sun is about to set, the silhouette of a woman appears through a haze of dust. She has a girl at her side and a baby in her arms.

“That is Annie Fuleya,” a young girl says. “Stenala’s wife.”

She is on her way to gather wood. Stenala’s home village of Jali is just a few hundred metres away. Emily’s family crosses paths with Stenala’s every day.

Annie is tall with a brush-cut. She wears a long green skirt and a pale blue T-shirt.

In the weeks leading up to the incident, the 26-year-old says her husband was acting strangely. She recalls asking him to stay away from a friend she thought was trouble.

“I didn’t believe it at first but then after the conviction I felt let down by him,” she reflects, looking away as she completes her sentence. Then, without looking back at us, she adds: “I believe that he did it.”

Annie was pregnant when her husband was arrested and must now raise their four-year-old daughter Saamyato and their now 14-month-old baby Latifa alone.

She left Machinga for Stenala’s village after his arrest, believing it was safer to be close to her mother-in-law. Now, she works in other people’s fields and depends on financial support from the extended family to help raise her children.

“All I know is that he was found with body parts of an albino. I don’t know what parts. I don’t know what he did. I just feel disappointed,” Annie says, holding on to Latifa as the baby wriggles in her arms.

“But I understand that he may have done it because of our situation. He doesn’t earn enough as a fisherman. He looks after me, his mother, my mother, and two orphaned children from an aunt,” she explains softly. “Perhaps this is what drove him to do this.”

“I will wait for him. Because I have forgiven him,” she adds. “But he will have to conduct himself properly on his return.”

Stenala’s mother, who has been watching pensively as her daughter-in-law talks, agrees to speak to us under the shadow of a large kachere tree. Elizabeth Magawa is 49, and the resemblance to her son is immediately apparent. She smiles when we tell her this and the children who have gathered around, burst into laughter.

Elizabeth seems tired. She says she has aged over the past year.

“I didn’t look like this,” she sighs. “I spend sleepless nights wondering why Stenala would have done such a thing. He always helped the family.”

“It is something I will never understand,” she says. Then, she adds: “But I know he was fully capable of such a thing.”

Maybe Stenala did it because of our poverty, or because of peer pressure. I don’t know. – Elizabeth Magawa, mother of Stenala Shaibu, sentenced to six years for selling human bones

Her son’s arrest brought the family unwanted attention in the village, but Elizabeth says they haven’t suffered any serious repercussions.

“There was a lot of talk. They spoke about bones. But they’ve moved on,” she says.

“Maybe Stenala did it because of our poverty, or because of peer pressure. I don’t know.”

It has grown cold now and, without warning, Annie stands up and walks away, in the direction of her mother-in-law’s house.

Elizabeth watches as her daughter-in-law disappears into the darkness, her young daughter in tow.

Charles Nyasa: Convicted of trying to sell human tissue

Charles Nyasa cries as he tells his story.

The 24-year-old from Zomba district was sentenced to six years for being in possession of human flesh in March 2015.

He says he heard an advert for a witch doctor on radio or television – he can’t recall which – that promised “quick riches”. But when he visited the witch doctor, he was told to bring the placenta of a newborn. So, he says, he spent K8,000 ($11) buying one from nurses at a hospital.

When he took it to the witch doctor, he was accused of carrying a placenta from a newborn with albinism.

He was convicted but insists his case had nothing to do with albinism.

John Alfred: Convicted of trying to sell a child

Thirty-one-year-old John Alfred looks older than his years. He is feverish and sweating profusely, but wants to talk.

John was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to sell his own child.

“I did it because of my [financial] condition. No other reason,” he says, shaking.

The father of five from Naweta village, in Machinga district, was earning K4,000 ($5.50) for two weeks’ work in the gardens and on the farms of a businessman.

“My boss saw me living in poverty and said to me one day: ‘Why don’t you be brave, and sell that child of yours?’ pointing to my daughter Vanessa. He said there were buyers in Mozambique for children like her.”

I had five children, and I thought that maybe it wasn’t a problem to get rid of one.– John Alfred, sentenced to six years for trying to sell his daughter

John says that his daughter does not have albinism but “resembled one”. The authorities at the prison say the child does have the condition, although there is no mention of it in his prison file.

“I had five children, and I thought that maybe it wasn’t a problem to get rid of one,” John says.

In April 2015, without consulting his wife, he took their four-year-old daughter and left for Mozambique.

“I didn’t know where I was going. I was just going to Mozambique to find this market,” he says.

But the police intercepted him in Machinga and arrested him.

“I admitted it in court and was sentenced,” he tells us.

Melinda Mbendera: Convicted of attempted kidnapping

Twenty-year-old Melinda Mbendera is agitated. She twitches and bites her lips as she talks.

She was found guilty of trying to kidnap a child with albinism and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. But she insists that she is innocent. The court didn’t have enough evidence, she declares, and based their verdict solely on the claims of the child and her parents.

She says the judge told her that it would be safer for her to be in jail than on the streets, where she might face mob justice.

In 2016, 11 people suspected of being involved in digging graves or carrying human flesh were lynched in Malawi. In one case in the Nsanje district in March 2016, seven witch doctors accused of using bones in their potions were burned alive. A month earlier, a courthouse in the South Lunzu township in Blantyre, was razed to the ground after three people accused of murdering somebody with albinism had been bailed.

Melinda says she previously spent eight months in prison for stealing K200,000 ($275) from a family friend. She suspects her criminal record influenced the verdict in this case.

But, she maintains: “I didn’t spend eight months in this wretched place only to go out and commit another crime.”

“The police said that because I stole before, the probability was high that I did this … but why would I sell a human being?” she asks.

4 – A Question of Justice

Zomba, southern Malawi

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Edge Kanyongolo is a tall man with thick eyebrows and an even thicker moustache.

The associate professor of law at the University of Malawi in Zomba is sitting behind his desk. Behind him, a window showcases a courtyard garden. Beside him, textbooks and legal reports are carefully stacked on a wooden bookshelf.

“The attacks on persons with albinism are a manifestation of a larger problem,” he says. “On the surface, there is the question of superstition and witchcraft, but I think underlying all of that is desperation.”

Malawi has been in an economic crisis since 2012. It began when tobacco, the country’s premier export, dropped in price by more than 50 percent in 2010. In 2012, under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund, President Joyce Banda imposed a range of hard-hitting economic reforms that were most harshly felt by the poor. The currency was devalued by almost 50 percent and inflation reached more than 20 percent.

In 2015, the World Bank rated Malawi as the poorest country in the world, per capita.

Two out of every five Malawians of employable age are without work. According to the International Labour Organisation, three in four young workers have only irregular employment, while nine out of 10 work in the informal sector, where their employment is precarious and may change daily. At least 61 percent of Malawians live on less than $1.25 a day and 2.3 million are said to be food-insecure.

“People don’t have options to earn money. And this then drives them to be so desperate and, as some would say – so irrational – as to think that getting the body parts of a type of person and so on, may make you rich,” the professor explains.

But Elijah Kachikuwo, the senior deputy commissioner of police in Mangochi, disagrees. In fact, he grows agitated when questioned about the connection. He is standing in the dusty courtyard of the main police station in Mangochi.

“It is not poverty that is causing this,” he declares, the lines on his forehead deepening. “We aren’t faced with poverty for the first time in the country. We shouldn’t hide behind this … so that question is out of order.”

The traditional healers

Mphalare in Dedza, central region of Malawi

Masiyambuyo Njolomole and Usmani Ibrahima Banda live in the remote village of Mphalare in Dedza. It is 80km – about an hour’s drive along a dirt track – from Lilongwe.

They are both traditional healers.

Seven wooden stools lined up against a wall and a small coffee table are the only furniture inside the house where we meet them. There is no electricity, so the door has been left ajar. The sunlight illuminates the two men’s faces. A woman sweeps the yard outside, scraping at the dry earth.

Usmani wears a skull cap; Masiyambuyo a headdress made from monkey skin. The latter smiles as he presents his registration card. Usmani’s expired in 2011.

Masiyambuyo, a tall, thin man, makes it clear that neither of them use bones of any kind in their potions. He says “people like him” are being made scapegoats for criminals and a political conspiracy because the government has lost control of the situation. “This is a syndicate by some influential people in this country who are interested in body parts of albinos. They simply want to take the attention away from them; that is why they are accusing us,” he declares.

“Albinos have existed for a long time and we have also existed for a long time,” he adds.

In June 2016, Malawi’s High Court banned “witch doctors, traditional healers, charm sellers, fortune tellers and magicians,” in an effort to quell the trade in the bones of people with albinism.

Traditional healers such as Usmani and Masiyambuyo argue that only hurts the people they help.

“People think we deal with witchcraft, but we are here to help people,” Masiyambuyo says, earnestly, opening his arms.

According to the Traditional Healers Association of Malawi, up to 97 percent of the population visit traditional healers and herbalists. It is hard to verify this but it is clear that many people do use them, particularly in rural areas, where the state is often conspicuous by its absence.

There are two physicians and 59 nurses for every 100,000 people in Malawi. The ratio is the lowest in all of sub-Saharan Africa

Usmani says that, in such circumstances, the services he and Masiyambuyo provide are critical.

People think we deal with witchcraft, but we are here to help people.– Masiyambuyo Njolomole, a traditional healer based in Dedza

He was trained by his father, the softly spoken traditional healer explains, and used to specialise in sexually transmitted diseases. But, “nowadays, [it’s] cancer, blood pressure, asthma, using herbs and a mixture from seven trees” he adds, showing us plastic packets of concoctions made primarily from plants.

“People come to me when the hospitals have failed them.”

Dr Chilani is the spokesperson for Malawi’s Traditional Healers Association and tells us over the phone that “everyone [in the country], [from] farmers to politicians” uses traditional healers.

Many believe that illness involves an “element of being bewitched”, he explains. But, he insists, “sending people to kill others” isn’t part of their craft.

“We help people, we don’t kill them,” he says.

The new law targeting unlicensed traditional healers would purportedly help end these crimes. But the line between traditional healer and witch doctor isn’t always clear.

Mary Shawa, the former principal secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, says the distinction lies in registration. “No one who obeys the law needs to feel threatened,” she explains.

Chilani’s Facebook page offers “revenge spells, fertility spells, magic rings and witchcraft spells”, but also asks that anyone with information about the bones of somebody with albinism contact him so that it can be reported to the police. He says no one has been in touch.

“If we have been around for generations, and the killings of persons with albinism began roughly two years ago, what were we doing all this time?” he asks.

One lawyer for every 38,500 Malawians 

Lilongwe, central region of Malawi

Piles of paper cover Masauko Chamkakala’s desk. The director of Legal Aid, the body tasked with representing those who cannot afford legal representation, is in his office in Area 4 of Lilongwe.

The country’s legal system, he says, is a mess.

“More than 90 percent of the population cannot afford legal representation. We have seven lawyers for the entire country,” he says, his hands clasped and eyebrows raised.

The Legal Aid Act stipulates that anyone charged with a crime that could result in a custodial sentence is entitled to legal aid, but limited resources have resulted in the courts restricting this to homicide cases.

A 2013 report found that Malawi had fewer than 400 lawyers. That was one lawyer for every 38,500 people.

The jails are overcrowded and suspects can wait months or even years before their cases go to trial.

“If you go to the prisons [and] start going through the cases, you realise that so many of these people are not supposed to be there,” Masauko says, pointing out that: “For an ordinary person to get an appointment with a lawyer will cost him K20,000 ($27), while the [monthly] minimum wage is K18,000 ($25).”

Then there is the question of entrapment – a method that police officers have admitted to using but one which has so far led only to the arrest of sellers.

More than 90 percent of the population cannot afford legal representation. We have seven lawyers for the entire country.– Masauko Chamkakala, the director of Legal Aid

In a side office near Malawi’s High Court, Neverson Chisiza, a senior state advocate at Malawi’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, acknowledges that there have been discussions within the ministry about “why it is always sellers, those who are desperate [and] looking for quick money, [who] are caught, not the buyers”.

And without the buyers, the police are little closer to understanding the source of this trade.

Masouko says that the hysteria over the killings of people with albinism has reached such a height that “it is possible a person could be convicted for carrying antelope bones because they resemble human bones”.

And, he adds, those accused of any crime related to people with albinism are tried in “people’s courts”.

A question of government preparedness

Lilongwe, central region of Malawi

It is late on a Friday afternoon when Mary Shawa meets us in her office and her team are about to leave for the day. She is responsible for the security, health and wellbeing of Malawians with albinism.

“Until the atrocities started, we didn’t look at persons with albinism as people with a disability. We saw them as ordinary people,” she says, adjusting her glasses.

She slumps back into her chair. “If you look at the demographics, they are young and old, some working as lawyers and teachers, some still in school,” she adds.

Before moving to this ministry in 2012, Mary was the secretary for nutrition, HIV and Aids in the president’s office, credited with tackling the country’s HIV pandemic

She speaks authoritatively and frankly, rejecting any suggestion that the government hasn’t done enough to address the crimes committed against people with albinism. She rattles off the details of cases that have been solved and cites “ministerial research” to suggest that there is no market for the bones.

“[The] culprits get the bones and walk around looking for a market to sell them,” she says. 

Mary says her ministry has been leading a communications plan to tackle the crisis. “The radio messages, the billboards, this is all us,” she explains.

But it’s hard to tell if anyone is listening.

“We are also compiling a census, to register all persons with albinism in the country,” she says, leaning forward, her hands resting on the desk.

But beyond the issue of security, people with albinism have other needs – sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect them from the sun. The Ministry of Health does provide zinc oxide at clinics but that only helps with the blisters and lesions and doesn’t offer any protection. Moreover, patients have to travel to the main cities to access the ointment.

Mary hints at a lack of funding. Malawi is heavily reliant on donors, and it’s unlikely that sunscreen or hats top the government’s financial priorities or a foreign government’s agenda.

Village of Nambilikira, Dedza district, eastern Malawi

5 – The Future

Confident, assertive and friendly, Clement Gweza seems as though he was born to teach. He transforms the 60 rowdy teenagers into an orderly classroom and begins his social and environmental science lesson by scribbling “How to prevent air pollution” on the blackboard.

The 24-year-old is smartly dressed in an off-white shirt, pinstriped tie and black trousers.

“It was difficult at first,” he says. “The children found it hard to understand my albinism, because people, not just the learners, don’t think that a person with albinism can do something that can be recognised by society.”

He became a teacher, he says, because the tuition was free and he couldn’t afford to pay to study anything else.

At first, he worried that his students wouldn’t respect him. But, he says, “after a few weeks, the learners came round. They will tell you: ‘Ah! He is a good teacher and he understands our problems’.”

But he knows that, despite the respect he enjoys in the classroom, he is not safe outside of it.

The murder of one of his students, David Fletcher, made him afraid.

He has stopped walking outside at night and, if he must, he asks a close friend or relative to accompany him.

“If I can’t find someone to take me home, I will stay where I am and sleep there. I have no choice,” he says.

“Everything has changed. I look at the people, the friends around me, and I think ‘maybe he wants to kill me and make some money’.”

Stercia Kanyowa’s story

Masumpankhunda, in Lilongwe, central Malawi

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Twelve-year-old Stercia Kanyowa says she doesn’t want to beg. She wants an education, and to stand on her own two feet.

“I want to be a teacher first. Then maybe a journalist or a bank manager,” she declares.

Stercia is one of three children with albinism at the Malingunde School for the Visually Impaired. As an only child from a single-parent household, she says completing school is her only hope for the future. She has been here since 2011.

“Of course, I miss home. It’s long since I have gone home. Who doesn’t miss home?” she says, outside her dormitory.

The school is government-run, and functions almost exclusively on donations. There are 17 classrooms and 40 teachers for 3,000 students.

There is no electricity. Inside Stercia’s classroom, some students are huddled around braille machines, while others, such as 15-year-old Foster Kennedy, who also has albinism, use a magnifying glass to read textbooks.

“Everyone here is a friend. You would think we are born from the same mother,” Foster says, smiling.

He wants to be a radio personality or a songwriter, he explains.

The school yard is a thoroughfare for people walking or cycling to the town centre, which means that there are always strangers passing through. This concerns the school authorities. Without a wall or a gate, the school is vulnerable to theft and the students to being attacked. In early 2015, a 16-year-old student with albinism was almost abducted by a stranger who promised to buy her supplies from the local market.

“It is an open place. And anything can happen,” says Chiko Kamphandira, the school principal.

Back outside, Stercia, who is head of the school choir, begins to sing one of her favourite songs, before stopping suddenly, self-conscious and shy.

“I am going to work hard and fulfill my dreams,” she says. “I don’t see myself as any different. I am just a human being.”

Ian Simbota’s story

Blantyre, southern Malawi

Ian Simbota is eating a chicken tikka burger at a Pakistani fast food diner when we spot him one evening in Blantyre.

When we ask to talk to him, he scans our journalists’ credentials before agreeing. It turns out that he gets paid to talk as a late-night radio talk show host and a DJ with the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. And he has just returned from Kasungu, in the central region of Malawi, where he was the master of ceremonies for World International Albinism Awareness Day.

When he finishes his meal, he invites us to the radio studio.

Once on the airwaves, the slightly pensive man we met at the restaurant is no more. He taunts and teases his listeners. The studio is his safe place.

Later on, he talks of a double life. As a radio star, his voice and name are widely recognised. But not all of his listeners know that he has albinism. And there are times when his confident persona gives way to fear.

“Look, I am working at night. And people know I am here,” he says. “What are they thinking, planning? From here I will get a car and go home. And when I go home, I feel unsafe. What if they attack me? I think about it all the time.”

Ian became a full-time DJ in 2015. It was a dream come true. “I wanted to be a midwife as a child [but] thankfully my mother convinced me otherwise,” he laughs.

“And then, I wanted to be a radio host. Geoffrey Zigoma [the gospel singer] made a huge impact on my life.”

But life hasn’t been easy for Ian.

When he was born, he was the second child in his family to have albinism. His father walked out on them.

“My father told my mum to kill us. When she refused, he left,” he says, matter-of-factly.

“At that time, people didn’t know about the genes and stuff. My dad thought it was a curse.”

Ian’s mother left her village in southern Malawi and came to Blantyre with her two children to look for a job. She found one as a cleaner at the College of Medicine.

His father remarried. His next child was also born with albinism.

School was tough for Ian. He says his teachers didn’t realise that he was visually impaired so would just call him lazy. When he completed his certificate in journalism and applied for internships in radio, his visual impairments worked against him again – station managers were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to see the computer screens, he says.

Then his mother died after a prolonged illness, and the new job felt like the start of a new life for him. But then the attacks on people with albinism began.

“I can tell you, it has become difficult,” he says. “I have friends. But at this point in time, I only trust one friend in my circle. I have other friends, but then sometimes, you just wonder, you know, maybe, he is being used [to get close to me].”

He also has to face harassment on the streets and says his girlfriend left him last year because “she couldn’t deal with what … [he] was going through”.

But today he’s the voice of a successful radio show.

“I like radio because you could come naked to the studio and it doesn’t matter. People are listening to your voice,” he says, pausing for a second, before laughing.

“I have done a little bit of TV, but radio is better because listeners create a different picture of what they think you are. It’s only now [with the crisis] that people realise I am a person with albinism …”

Source: Malawi: killed for their bones – on the trail of the trade in human body parts

South Africa: The killing of people for human body arts is witchcraft and not ritual muthi killing – Gogo Ndlazi

African spiritual healer and teacher and trained sangoma Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi says people should call the killing of people for human body party witchcraft and not ritual muthi killings. 

Sangomas don’t shed human blood‘, says Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi.

An interesting view, please listen to the interview.
(webmaster FVDK)

Screenshot – To watch the video (YouTube) – click here

Not muthi killings but witchcraft, sangomas don’t shed human blood – Gogo Ndlazi

Bongani Bingwa speaks to African spiritual healer, teacher and trained sangoma Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi for more.

Published: May 26, 2022
By: Bongani Bingwa – 702, South Africa

Bongani Bingwa speaks to African spiritual healer, teacher and trained sangoma Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi for more.

African spiritual healer and teacher and trained sangoma Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi says people should call the killing of people for human body party witchcraft and not ritual muthi killings. 

Recently there has been a widespread outrage within communities against ‘sangomas’ who use human organs for muthi and ritual healing. 

A suspect Ngomane in the murder of Bontle Mashiyane confessed in a video recording that they killed Mashiyane for her womb and knees. 

A sangoma and his son have been arrested together with three additional suspects. 

Speaking to Bongani Bingwa, Ndlanzi says muthi and killing do not come together and muthi is medicine and is supposed to heal.

Not everybody who alleges to be a sangoma is one because anyone can claim to be a sangoma just because they understand muthi. Just because you understand muthi doesn’t mean you are a sangoma. When you are a trained and qualified sangoma there is a code of ethics that you abide by and one of them is we do not kill and we do not go outside the confines of tempering with the human body, you do not work with anyone without their consent, you don’t shed human blood.

There are a lot of bogus and fake healers. I think it’s about time whether there are elements that cannot be regulated but there has to be a standardized code of ethics and that this is how what we are all supposed to abide by because it’s free for all because anyone can wake up tomorrow put on beads and wear a cloth and say I am a sangoma and continuously put the name of African spiritual healers into disrepute.

Listen to the full interview below:

Screenshot – To listen to the interview click here

Source: Not muthi killings but witchcraft, sangomas don’t shed human blood – Gogo Ndlazi

Nigeria: Ebonyi State residents decry ritual killings across the country

After protests in other states: AbiaAdamawa, Bayelsa, Kwara, OsunOyo – to name but a few – Ebonyo state residents joined the increasing number of people raising their voices against the heinous practices of ritual murders (‘money rituals’), calling on the government to act. Most Nigerians are fed up with the unscrupulous murders of innocent citizens, men, women, children, for purposes linked to witchcraft and superstition. (FVDK)

Insecurity: Ebonyi residents decry ritual killings across the country

Spokesperson of the Ebonyi State Police Command DSP Loveth Odah, Wednesday condemned the number of missing persons in recent times all over the country.

Published: February 2, 2022
By: NAN – The Eagle Online

Residents in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital have decried the rising cases of missing persons and killings for rituals across states of the federation, urging concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend.

In a vox pop by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) they attributed the reason for quest to acquire wealth.

Spokesperson of the Ebonyi State Police Command DSP Loveth Odah, Wednesday condemned the number of missing persons in recent times all over the country.

“Yes, the case of missing persons is on the increase. We condemn the act and urge members of the public to be security conscious,” Odah said.

It would be recalled that five engineers from the Nelan Consultants Limited were on Nov. 3, 2021 reported missing by the Command.

The engineers were deployed to a road project at Effium in Ebonyi in continuation of routine supervisory works.

The victims traveled from Enugu to Effium with the project vehicle, Toyota Hilux with registration number ERR 001 EB.

Another recent case was that of four brothers, who left home on Dec. 26, 2021, in two Daystar 125 model motorcycles but have yet to be seen.

The brothers left to attend a traditional marriage of their cousin at Okpa-Ogegen Village in Oju Local Government Area of Benue, through Effium/Benue route and had yet to return.

Mr Ezekiel Igboji, Human Right Activist, decried the act of abduction and murder for ritual, blaming the current rise on collapse in our moral values.

On what was responsible for the increase, Igboji attributed it to parents and guardians’ failure in their responsibilities to bring up their children and wards uprightly.

“The dwindling value system in the country is another reason.

“Murder for ritual is worrisome to the society. How can someone take another person’s life in the quest for wealth, protection, and power?

“Parents should wake up to their responsibilities in the efforts to tackle the menace. The public should desist from night traveling.

“Nigerians should always assess public transport vehicles before boarding in order not to board the “wrong bus,” he advised.

A teacher Mary Okoronkwo, called for improved security around public and private schools in curtailing the trend and protect the school.

“There is need for increased security in all schools, school children have become victims due to inadequate security around them,” Okoronkwo said.

Source: Insecurity: Ebonyi residents decry ritual killings across the country

More:

Ebonyi residents decry rising wave of ritual killings, missing persons

Published: February 2, 2022
By: Agency reporter – The Nation, Nigeria

Residents in Abakaliki, Ebonyi capital have decried the rising cases of missing persons and killings for rituals across states of the federation, urging concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend.

In a vox pop by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, they attributed the reason for the quest to get quick wealth.

DSP Loveth Odah, Spokesperson of the Ebonyi Police Command, condemned the number of missing persons in recent times all over the country.

“Yes, the case of missing persons is on the increase. We condemn the act and urge members of the public to be security conscious,” Odah said.

NAN recalls that five engineers from the Nelan Consultants Limited were on Nov. 3, 2021 reported missing by the Command.

The engineers were deployed to a road project at Effium in Ebonyi in continuation of routine supervisory works.

The victims traveled from Enugu to Effium with the project vehicle, Toyota Hilux with registration number ERR 001 EB.

Another recent case was that of four brothers, who left home on Dec. 26, 2021, in two Daystar 125 model motorcycles but have yet to be seen.

The brothers left to attend a traditional marriage of their cousin at Okpa-Ogegen Village in Oju Local Government Area of Benue, through Effium/Benue route and had yet to return.

Source: Ebonyi residents decry rising wave of ritual killings, missing persons

Uganda: Burundi refugee arrested for killing wife in ritual sacrifice

Burundi is one of the African countries which is notorious for the murderous attacks on persons with albinism – see my previous postings. The Central African country isn’t often in the news when it comes to other ritual murders, ritualistic activities and other cases of witchcraft. However, this does not mean that there is nothing to report on. It seems more a question of communication, given the fact that Burundi is a French-speaking country and thus isn’t easily picked up by the international media and powerful search machines.

The murder case described below happened in Uganda, an English-speaking country, maybe an explanation for why it drew international attention. It proves that superstition and the belief in the powerful forces of human sacrifices exist in both countries, Burundi as well as Uganda: the murderer killed his wife and took her blood to a witch in Kampala in the firm belief that this would bring him material wealth.  (FVDK).

30-year-old refugee arrested for killing wife in ritual sacrifice

Published: January 20, 2022
By: Howwe Buzz – Uganda

A 30-year-old Burundian refugee is being held by Isingiro Police for allegedly killing his wife in ritual sacrifice to get riches. 

According to Rwizi Region Police Spokesperson Samson Kasasira, the suspect is Pio Simiyimana, a resident of Kitwe Kyembogo Village in Rushasha Sub-County, while the deceased was only identified as Rozario.

Kasasira told journalists on Thursday, that the suspect was lured into witchcraft as a source of wealth, and at a point of no return, he was advised to kill his wife as a sacrifice. 
After the incident, Simiyimana went into hiding until Wednesday when he returned to the village, forcing suspicious residents to demand the whereabouts of the wife, who had been reported missing.

Upon interrogation, the suspect confessed to having killed his wife and buried her body behind their house. 

Detectives arrested Simiyimana and whisked him to Rushasha Police Post and later transferred to Rugaaga Police Station where he is being held. The police are currently pursuing a court order to exhume the body for postmortem as part of the ongoing investigations.

Frank Akampulira the Kitwe Kyembogo Village Chairman claims that the incident of murder might have happened on Monday, January 17, 2022. Residents became suspicious later when  Rozario did not show up in her garden on Tuesday and reported a case of a missing person at Rushasha Police Post.

Simiyimana allegedly disclosed that he killed the wife and took her blood to a witch in Kampala in pursuit of material wealth.

Source: 30-year-old refugee arrested for killing wife in ritual sacrifice

More:

Burundian refugee kills wife, sucks out her blood in ritual sacrifice for wealth

Published: January 20, 2022
By: Pamela Achom – Galaxy FM

Burundian refugee kills wife

A 30-year old Burundian refugee residing in Isingiro district has been arrested for killing his wife in a ritual sacrifice for money.

Pio Simiyimana, a resident of Kitwe Kyembogo Village in Rushasha Sub-County, was directed by a native witch-doctor he consulted in Kampala, to kill his wife Rozario in order to obtain money and wealth.

Simiyimana reportedly chopped his wife using a panga,.siphoned her blood and buried her lifeless body in the backyard of their residence before fleeing to an unknown destination.

Frank Akampulira the Kitwe Kyembogo Village LC 1 Chairman says that the incident of murder might have happened on Monday, January 17, 2022 because Rozario was absent for her daily garden duty on Tuesday. He says a case of a missing person was already reported at Rushasha Police Post.

Burundian refugee kills wife 

Samson Kasasira the Rwizi Region Police Spokesperson says the suspect only returned to the village on Wednesday raising suspicion among the locals about the whereabouts of his wife. The locals suspected he could have killed the wife, considering he was recently involved in witchcraft acts and demanded to know where she was.

Kasasira says upon interrogation, the suspect confessed to killing his wife and burying the body for wealth.

He says the suspectis being held at Rugaaga Police Station as they pursue a court order to exhume the body for postmortem.

Source: Burundian refugee kills wife, sucks out her blood in ritual sacrifice for wealth

More:

Burundi refugee arrested for killing wife in ritual sacrifice

Published: January 20, 2022
By: Edson Kinene – Uganda Radio Network

Samson Kasasira the Rwizi Region Police Spokesperson

Rwizi Region Police Spokesperson Samson Kasasira says that the suspect was lured into using witchcraft as a source of wealth, and at a point of no return, he was advised to kill kill his wife as a sacrifice.

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Source: Burundi Refugee Arrested for Killing Wife in Ritual Sacrifice

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