Malawi 'hyena' man faces sentencing over sex ritual

2016-11-22 15:00
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nsanje - An HIV-positive Malawian man who said he slept with at least 100 girls and women in traditional cleansing rituals was to be sentenced on Tuesday after being convicted of "engaging in harmful practices".

Eric Aniva was prosecuted on the orders of President Peter Mutharika after publicly speaking about his role as a "hyena" in a BBC documentary.

Custom in some parts of southern Malawi demands that a man, known as a "hyena", is paid to have sex with bereaved widows to exorcise evil spirits and to prevent other deaths occurring.

At the request of a girl's parents, the "hyena" is also paid to have sex with adolescent girls to mark their passage to womanhood after their first menstruation.

The ritual, which many Malawians say is rarely practised today, is believed to train girls to become good wives and protect them from disease or misfortune that could fall on their families.

After an international outcry over the documentary, President Mutharika ordered Aniva's arrest in July.

On Friday, in the first case of its kind, Aniva was found guilty on two counts by magistrate Innocent Nebi after a one-day trial in the district of Nsanje.

The charges, under the gender equality act, involved the ritual of sex with widows as none of the younger girls would testify, according to reports.

At the trial, in front of a packed courtroom, the state produced six witnesses against Aniva, 45, who pleaded not guilty.

High HIV rates

The magistrate said the court had concluded that "sexual cleansing violates the dignity of widows".

State prosecutor Chiyembekezo Banda demanded a long prison sentence for Aniva, saying he was probably responsible for the spread of HIV.

Malawi is one of the worst affected countries in the world, with 27 000 deaths from Aids-related illnesses and nine percent of the adult population infected with HIV.

Aniva faces a possible five-year jail term, according to the BBC.

Michael Goba Chipeta, Aniva's defence lawyer, told the court his client should not be jailed.

Chipeta appealed for Aniva to not be used as "a sacrificial lamb", saying "the publicity he has attracted is punishment enough".

Before being led by police to his cell, Aniva told AFP: "I am not worried about being convicted. I think I will be given a suspended sentence."

His second wife Sophia, who was in court on Friday, was in tears and declined to speak to the press.

Aniva said he had slept with at least 104 women and girls, some as young as 12, in a ritual that lasts three days.

He said each family paid him a fee of between $4 and $7.

Read more on:    malawi  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.