Muti killings up ahead of 2010?

2009-03-06 14:20
Nelspruit - Over 70% of South Africans surveyed as part of a report on the trafficking on human body parts believe that muti killings will increase as the 2010 Soccer World Cup approaches.

"There is a clear link between muti and business. With the World Cup approaching, people we surveyed believe more people will be killed and their body parts used in muti that is bought to ensure businesses prosperity," said Simon Fellows, author of a report entitled Trafficking Body Parts in Mozambique and South Africa.

The report, commissioned by the Human Rights League in Mozambique and released in partnership with Childline South Africa, took seven months to complete and was released this week.

The report also revealed that 70% of people surveyed in South Africa and Mozambique believe human body parts make muti more effective.

Cultural beliefs

"Although this stems from generalised questions, it does indicate a deep-founded cultural belief that body parts make the medicine more effective and that it can solve any problem, from poverty to health issues," said Fellows.

"Witchdoctors, usually through a third party, actively seek human body parts from live victims," he said.

The research was conducted between May and September through 30 regional workshops attended by 413 people in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State in South Africa, and Maputo, Nampula, Sofala, Tete, Delgado and Niassa in Mozambique.

The 139 people interviewed included members of human rights organisations, religious bodies, women's movements, local authorities, police, municipal councils, community and traditional healer organisations.

Individuals surveyed included nurses, teachers, social workers, radio station presenters and even fishermen.

The interviews showed that those who approached witchdoctors for assistance sometimes had to part with more than just their money. Some were expected to sacrifice family members, even their wives and children.

Code of silence

In interviews with people who had experienced muti murders first hand, the research discovered that body parts of people killed in Mozambique were smuggled to religious leaders in South Africa who believe the muti will increase the size of their congregations.

"Muti murders are shrouded by a code of silence, where people are fearful of speaking out, allowing the practice to continue with little or no consequence for the perpetrators," said Fellows.

He said in Mpumalanga seven cases had been confirmed, while in Limpopo only four cases of muti murder were confirmed.

Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) national co-ordinator Phephisile Maseko was reluctant to comment on the report.

"I can't speak for others, but our members are well-informed. They would never participate in muti killings and don't believe in it. We heal, we don't kill," she said.

"I have heard reports of muti killings but I have never personally seen it. Those who do that are witches who don't belong to any organisation. They haven't been trained so they do as they please," she said.

THO had over 25 000 members in the country.

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