Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Bald-headed scalping rises new fear of ritual use of body parts in Swaziland

Bald-headed people might be the latest target in Swaziland (eSwatini) to have body parts used for ritual purposes.

A man who died of natural causes later had his scalp cut off. His family believe this was used in a ritual or as part of a magic potion, the Times of eSwatini reported on Tuesday (11 February 2020). 

The Times reported Mjalimane Myeni, believed to be in his 70s, was mutilated at his homestead in Dzakasini.

It added, ‘This has raised fears that some people are now targeting bald-headed men to have their heads or scalps used in rituals or muti.

‘The country is notorious for ritual killings where people are believed to be murdered for the harvesting of certain body parts which are said to be used in muti to enhance people’s wealth.’

Police reported that Myeni had his scalp cut off while his corpse was kept in a house.

His son Phondo Myeni told the newspaper some unknown people broke into the house while the family was arranging transport of the body to the morgue.

The Times reported, ‘He said family members were only speculating on the motivation for cutting off the scalp, basing it on the common superstition about bald individuals being rich.’

People with albinism, a hereditary condition that causes an absence of skin pigmentation, have been targeted in Swaziland in the past. In 2018, ahead of the national election, there was widespread reporting of abductions across the kingdom. It was believed that body parts were being used to bring good luck to candidates running for the House of Assembly.

In June 2017, during a voter-education workshop, Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) called for an end to ritual killings around voting time. It was concerned about reports of people mysteriously disappearing across the kingdom. 

At the previous election in 2013, The Swaziland Epilepsy Association warned that cases of the abduction of epileptic people always increased during elections. Mbuso Mahlalela from the association told the Swazi Observer at the time it was common for the vulnerable to be targeted and abducted. He spoke after a report that a 13-year-old epileptic boy might have been abducted for ritual purposes.

Before the election in 2008 a
march by civil society groups to draw attention to ritual killings was banned by the government amid fears that it would bring bad publicity to Swaziland and might embarrass King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, who had spoken out against the practice. 

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the march had been motivated by the mystery disappearances and murders of women. Some of these had been found mutilated fuelling speculating that they were related to rituals.

In 2008, it was strongly rumoured in Swaziland that the reason why members of the government wanted to ban discussion on the ritual murders was that some of them had themselves used muti to get elected.

In January 2017, the Director of Public Prosecution’s office in Swaziland told witchdoctors in the kingdom to stop murdering people for body parts. The witchdoctors, also known as tinyanga, were advised to go to the Ministry of Health for body parts, such as bones. 

See also 

People with albinism want protection
‘MPs use witchcraft for success’

Election: ‘ritual murders will rise’

Swazi Govt bans murders march

No comments: