by Pilirani Semu-Banda
- Malawi -
A 15 month-old baby had gone missing in Malawi’s high density township in the country’s commercial capital Blantyre last month, only to be found dead five days later in a pit latrine not very far away from her parents’ house. One would have easily thought that she had accidentally fallen into the dug-out toilet if it had not been that her teeth, nose, and lips were missing and half of her head shaven when her body was hauled out.
Three weeks after the incident in Blantyre, a 28-year-old man cut off his wife’s private parts while she was lying in bed with him. Police investigations revealed that prior to the incident, the man had asked his wife for a piece of her private parts to mix with some traditional medicine, to then prepare charms to help him get rich, but that the wife refused.
A number of packages containing women’s private parts have been found in bushes in several parts of the country. In one incident, several women retrieved a plastic bag, which contained cotton wool, gloves, a syringe, an injection needle and a woman’s private parts, from a bush where it had been hidden by “some smartly dressed men.”
These are but the tip of the iceberg in the escalating violence perpetrated against women and children in Malawi, where the situation is now reaching extreme levels as some otherwise legitimate businessmen venture into the illegal body parts trade.
One other extreme example of such brutality is where a woman discovered parts of her daughter’s body being cooked in a pot by the woman’s brother.
Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka says his force has since launched a country wide search to uncover what is believed to be an established syndicate of murders dealing in ritual killings for money.
“Its everybody’s guess that this is not small business, it involves a cross section of people, maybe some tycoons, that’s why we want to get down into the root of the matter,” says Mwaluka.
Mwaluka could be right since a Malawian traditional healer is currently being tried in South Africa for selling private body parts and administering human blood as part of his concoctions.
The traditional healer, known in South Africa as Dr. Blood, is also accused of causing the death of four people in that country after he prescribed a deadly concoction to them which contained human blood and other body parts.
A number of men have also fallen prey to the private body parts hunters; Christopher Phiri, 45, died in hospital after he was found lying in the middle of one of Malawi’s main roads in a pool of blood with his private parts cut off.
Three men were caught red-handed by the police as they were trying to sell Phiri’s private parts to a businesswoman who runs a restaurant. Police on night patrol went to the restaurant after they received a tip and arrested the peddlers.
Meanwhile, the police have yet to come up with any real findings, while most of the private body hunters are still prowling for more.