Not only in Liberia
Ritual Killings in other countries


When exposing the atrocities committed by a small number of people it was neither my intention to stigmatize a particular group of people or tribe nor did I want to suggest that ritual murders only happen in Liberia. In fact, I am convinced that they happen in many, if not all, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – and maybe also in countries on other continents. 

In the Republic of South Africa everyone knows what ‘Muti-murders’ are: ritual murders. ‘Muti’ is the Zulu word for ‘medicine’. Also in Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Zambia ritual killings occur although it is not known at what scale. In mid-February 1995 the ritualistic killing of a young girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi, in Mochudi, a village near Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, led to the most serious civil disturbances in the country’s history. The 14-your old Segametsi Mogomotsi had been found dead, seriously mutilated and with several parts missing. Also in 1995, the inhabitants in Livingstone, Zambia, rioted and looted Asian shops after police had found a child’s heart and other human organs in an Asia shop. Six children had mysteriously disappeared and the local people accused some Asian shopkeepers of being implicated. And in June 2003, King Mswati III urged Swaziland’s politicians not to engage in ritual killings to boost their chances in the general elections later that year. Reportedly, also in Swaziland the number of ritual murders increases at election time.

Also in 2003, it was reported that MLC rebels in North-east Congo had killed and eaten people – both for ritual purposes and in order to frighten their enemies. A special team of the United Nations, sent down to investigate the accusations, confirmed the rumors. 

Below more examples of ritual killings are given or persistent rumors reported: from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The list is long but probably incomplete. Very likely, there is serious underreporting of ritual murder cases in French-speaking African countries since the focus of my research lies on English-speaking countries. However, a number of cases are reported in French-speaking countries. I apologize to readers who do not read French though a translation of the heading and main issue will be provided.

Moreover, two reports have been included of alleged cases of ritual killings, which took place in Europe. The first case concerns a young Nigerian boy whose mutilated body was found in the Thames, London, England, in 2001

The other victim was the daughter of a Malawian Chief Justice whose headless body was discovered in Ireland in 2004. In both cases Nigerians seem to have been involved. It was also reported that in Germany and in Belgium three similar cases had been discovered involving young children.

Medicine men, ordinary people, rebels, army personnel, politicians, even presidents allegedly have been implicated in ritualistic killings. The accusations against former Liberian President Charles Taylor (1997-2003) have already been reported. He is in illustrious company: former Ugandan President Idi Amin (1971-79) and Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the short-lived Central African Empire (1977-79) also were accused of ritualistic practices and cannibalism. 

The sad list is long - too long to continue here - and will not be final since this concerns a continuing practice. Readers who are interested may follow the links below to know more about ritual murders in various African countries. It is just a sample and, without any doubt, just the top of the iceberg. Some links relate to concrete, recent cases of ritualistic killings, others refer to unproven rumors. Be that as it may, it is certain that for many people in Africa ritual practices is a reality – a frightening reality. 

People have a right to live without fear. They are entitled to protection by the State. Governments have an obligation to protect their citizens and to uphold the rule of law - prosecuting offenders. We see - increasingly - in many countries the occurrence of mob justice, sometimes even encouraged by those in government who fail to protect their citizens. Both ritual murders and mob justice must stop - and governments must enforce the rule of law.

Regrettably, international opinion does not pay much attention to the phenomenon of ritual killings – educated Africans being too ashamed to talk about it whereas policy-makers and politicians from western countries prefer to ignore the problem. People like former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan must have known about it, however, the Ghanaian Annan never raised his voice against these practices.

Recently, the 2008 wave of ritual killings of albinos in Tanzania and neighboring countries such as Burundi, Uganda and Kenya have led to a storm of international protests. Newsmedia widely covered these criminal acts and UNICEF and the European Community condemned the ritual murders of albinos, but the problem is much more widespread as the following shows.

More... Ritual killing in other African countries

What is a muti murder?

"A muti murder is the killing of a person in order to use their body parts for muti African traditional medicine. The parts will often be taken from the victim shortly before death. Genitals are often taken for fertility spells. Internal organs are often taken, as are breasts, hands and feet.

African traditional medicine is not always magical in its methods, but it's safe to assume that any method, that for instance, requires you to cut off the genitalia of a fertile man, the hands of a prosperous business rival, or remove a man's liver while his dying screams give the medicine its potency is an attempt at magic of the blackest kind.

Often the sangoma will tell the client what parts are necessary for the spell, but will leave the deed up the to the client. Money often changes hands, and a complete stranger is seldom targeted. A family member or acquaintance is preferred.

Estimates of the number of muti murders range from one per month to one per day in South Africa alone. (...)."
Source: Everything2/StrawberryFrog



Ritual killings, abuses and other practices are a source of growing concern in Europe following the increase in reported cases among
immigrants of African origin.

The murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié almost seven years ago highlighted the rare but deeply disturbing practice of ritual abuse in the UK.
February 2, 2007

Teachers and people working with children are being given guidance on how to identify signs of ritual abuse inflicted in the belief that a child is possessed by evil spirits.
February 2, 2007 

In September 2001, the mutilated body of "Boy Adam" was found by the British Police floating in the River Thames, near Tower Bridge in London. A top police source suspected that Adam might have been a victim of a style of ritual killing practiced in west and southern Africa. And forensic examination revealed that Adam lived in southwestern Nigeria.

















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