click on image to return to
Not Only in Liberia index

Not only in Liberia
Ritual Killing Zimbabwe (>50 cases registered here)

Freedom of fear is a human right
Rule of law an obligation of the state


Please note: web pages referred to in reported cases may be inaccessible without subscription or may have expired. Apologies!

  1. Councillor implicated in ‘ritual’ murder - eight people arrested
    MDC –T councillor for Ward 29 in Bulawayo, Monica Lubimbi (60), allegedly connived with a resident (....) to murder her rival and give the councillor his brains, tongue, lips, nose and fingers, a Bulawayo magistrate heard on Friday.

    The allegations came to light on Friday when Lubimbi and seven others, Pisi Nxumalo (56), Nkosinathi Khumalo (27), Ntando Moyo (21), Opah Moyo (59), Busani Sibanda(30), Xolani Ncube (30) and Hlonipani Mugayo (29) — appeared before Bulawayo provincial magistrate Abednico Ndebele facing charges of murder.
    Charges against them are that Khumalo and the now deceased, Mgoli Majola, had a long-standing wrangle over a house in Emakhandeni suburb in the city.
    The quartet, with the help of Moyo, who is in the police constabulary in Nkayi, allegedly kidnapped Majola on July 27 after she posed as a police officer. Moyo, who was in police uniform, went to Majola’s house with her alleged accomplices and advised him that he was under arrest for impregnating his maid. The five allegedly claimed that they were taking him to Entumbane Police Station and allegedly took him to a bushy area in Richmond suburb. On arrival, they allegedly struck him with a machete on the head after Moyo had allegedly handcuffed him on to a tree trunk.

    The following day, Khumalo and Mugayo allegedly returned to the scene and removed Majola’s tongue, brains, fingers, lips and nose and wrapped them in a plastic bag before they allegedly gave them to Lubimbi at her house in Magwegwe North.

    Majola’s body was later discovered by women who were fetching firewood, who alerted the police.
    August 19, 2011
  2. Four ritual murder suspects to appear in court
    The four Zimbabweans who were at the weekend arrested in connection with the murder of a fellow countryman whose eyes and private parts they then removed in a suspected ritual murder in South Africa yesterday appeared in court.
    Innocent Muvembi (26), Johannes Chikukuta (31), Ngonidzahse Mapfumo (26) and Blessing Hove (17) were not asked to plead by a Musina magistrate.
    They are accused of killing Munyaradzi Muthetwa and then hanging his body from a tree in Musina to feign suicide. (....)
    After the murder they allegedly removed his eyes and private parts.
    March 15, 2011
  3. Ritual murderer to hang
    A sombre atmosphere enveloped the High Court onTuesday afternoon as Justice Tendai Uchena sentenced a Karoi man, Bigknows Wairos, to death for killing his son in a suspected ritual murder.
    The court found that Wairos lured his son Ronald (then aged 9) into believing he wanted to take him to the Registrar General’s Office in Karoi to get him a birth certificate. He instead took him to Sandara Farm where he killed him before cutting off one of his ears and draining the blood into a lunch box.

    The incident occurred on June 12, 2007 when Wairos duped his mother Eneresi Siamkonde who was staying with his two sons Ronald and Tawanda (7) at Chivakanenyama village that he was taking them to Karoi purportedly to (....)
     February 16, 2011

    Dad to be hanged for ritual murder of son
    February 16, 2011

  4. Ritual murderer set to hang
    A FORMER security guard from Chiredzi has been sentenced to death for the ritual murder of a woman from the same district (....)

    Zakaria Simango, 35, his wife, Christine Manganya Sithole, 29, and her mother, Mahlaba Hurudza, 45, from the Tshovani area of Chiredzi, had been in remand prison since 2003.

    They pleaded not guilty for the murder of Ndakaziva Mapako, 21, also from Chiredzi when they appeared in court last week.

    However, Justice Francis Bere -- siting at the Bulawayo High Court -- convicted Simango and imposed the death penalty. The judge acquitted his wife and mother-in-law.

    The murder occurred on February 6, 2003 at Ingwizi Estate in Magwe District, Matabeleland South (....)

    The state claimed Simango’s mother-in-law wanted human blood for ritual purposes.
    December 6, 2010
  5. Ritual killing shocks residents
    MARONDERA - Residents of this small provincial capital of Mashonaland East are living in fear of suspected ritual killers, following the discovery of a mutilated child’s body in the town last Tuesday.
    The body of the infant no more than a month old, was found dumped at an undesignated Mutare Road Bus Stop, some 100 meters from Dombotombo Police Camp.
    Residents attributed the killing of the innocent baby to rumours in the province that ritual killers and human body traffickers were on the loose.
    August 20, 2010
  6. Mother kills son for muti - Sells his ear new
    A Zimbabwean woman killed her infant son and sold one of his ears for R76 to a traditional healer wanted for ritual murders in neighbouring Mozambique, police say.

    July 1, 2010
  7. Beheadings on the rise in Bulawayo during World Cup
    Parents in Zimbabwe are worried for the safety of their children following claims that human heads are being sold in the region. Residents of Bulawayo say there has been an increase in the number of child abductions and they are worried heads are being sent over the border. Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio says that since the start of the Fifa World Cup there have been numerous claims of beheadings and kidnappings.

    They say a man was recently arrested at the Plumtree border post with cooler boxes filled with human heads. Two other children from Bulawayo’s Pumula East suburb only managed to escape their abductor when his car ran out of fuel.
    A 21-year old man had been arrested for cutting off the head of his one-year old nephew and residents wanted the man to say which syndicate was paying him.
    There is speculation that more visitors to South Africa  may mean more business – or perhaps those involved in ritual killing think the police have their minds on other matters.
    (...) For now, parents are watching their children carefully. At least one school in Bulawayo is so worried by the reports that it has sent out a circular asking parents to accompany their children to and from lessons.
    July 2, 2010

  8. Mutilated body found in Marlborough
    The mutilated body of a seven-year-old boy was found abandoned at his parents' home in Malborough, Harare, in a suspected ritual killing.

    Clive Madzudzu's body was found with the right ear missing and right eye gouged out. Clive's father, Raymond Madzudzu, is now on the police wanted list after he reportedly went on the run. Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau yesterday said Raymond Madzudzu told a neighbour, George Kapasuka, about the assault before asking for soap to wash off his son's blood.
    January 31, 2008
  9. Woman axed to death
    A Banket man and his friend allegedly teamed up and axed a woman to death in a suspected ritual killing.

    The incident happened at Barryhille Farm in Banket on September 9 when Naison Katandika and Joseph Maguva allegedly followed Dorica Chiunye, their neighbour, on her way to fetch firewood and grabbed her in the middle of the forest and beheaded her.

    They appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna, who remanded them in custody on murder charges. Unbeknown to them, Bernous Chakanyika witnessed the gruesome murder and reported the matter to the police. Investigations by the police led to the recovery of the woman's remains.
    September 27, 2007
  10. Ritual murders - Arrest N'angas Too
    A Hurungwe man last Tuesday reportedly teamed up with three other men and killed his nine-year-old son for ritual purposes at the behest of a businessman who had paid him $400 000.

    Bignose Wireless (27) of Murindika Village under Chief Dandawa in Hurungwe allegedly killed his son with the help of Takaedza Masunda (29), Samuel Mazheke (37) and Everson Major (27) in cold blood after receiving the money as part payment from an unidentified Karoi businessman.
    June 26, 2007

    Ritual murders - Arrest N'angas Too
    The report about a Hurungwe man who allegedly teamed up with three others to murder his nine-year-old son for ritual purposes was shocking. The body of Ronald Wireless was found with the right ear missing five days after his father had reported him missing at Magunje Police Station. A Karoi businessman, who is yet to be named, is said to have made a $400 000 down payment for body parts.
    June 27, 2007
  11. Zimbabwean law and witchcraft
    "Killing someone for ritual purposes is murder, for example, and many have been hanged after being found guilty of murder, rather than of witchcraft. Unfortunately, the advisor of the killer, and the person who processes body parts obtained from murder, has usually escaped punishment. Even suggesting that this person was a witch was a criminal offence."
    March 3, 2006

  12. Vulnerable Bodies: Ritual Murders, Structural Violence and the State

    The following is an extract from 'African Witchcraft at the Millenium: Musings on a modern Phenomenon in Zimbabwe' by David Simmons.
    His dissertation is entitled: "Managing Misfortune: N'angas, HIV/AIDS and Health Development in Zimbabwe."

    Non-Blacks have been implicated in witchcraft in another way also, namely through ritual murder and the trafficking of human body parts. In South Africa, for example, there are documented cases of Whites being killed for their body parts, the belief being that because Whites bring money into the country and are generally more successful than Blacks, medicine made from their organs will be more powerful and effective.

    Paradoxically, Whites are less likely to be ritually murdered because of the belief that Blacks who kill Whites are sentenced to death, the death sentence being a strong deterrent.

    Some Indian businessmen and traders in South Africa and Zambia are also thought to indirectly participate in ritual killings to secure medicine that will ensure the success of their businesses. There are, of course, ways around the outright killing of someone to obtain human tissue. In Johannesburg, a White police officer at a mortuary was alleged to be supplying traditional healers with human fat, harvested from the corpses he was paid to protect (Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Violence and Ritual Murders in the Northern Province of the Republic of South Africa, 1995).

    Vulnerable Bodies: Ritual Murders, Structural Violence and the State

    Though there has been no official inquiry into ritual murder in Zimbabwe, the practice exists and in these days of economic instability, it appears to be more common than it is reported in the media. The motives underlying such killings, as in the above examples, is usually some form of material success. Though not usually involved directly in the killing of victims, some unscrupulous traditional healers are involved in consultations on body parts and the preparation of those parts for ritual purposes. "The traditional healers give advice on who to kill and which parts of the body to be used to prepare such medicines," says Chavunduka.

    Different body parts have different qualities ascribed to them. Genital organs and breasts are used for fertility purposes. The eyes of a victim grant the users farsightedness (in business), while the hands are used to attract many clients.

    In the capitol city of Harare, police records indicate that 100 people were murdered in 1998 and most of the cases that went before the court were shown to be ritual murders ("Ritual Murders and Trade in Body Parts on the Increase," The Sunday Mail, April 18, 1999).

    In March of 1999, a policeman and his wife were detained on allegations that they ritually murdered their domestic worker to secure a minibus ("Couple in Alleged Ritual Killing Granted Bail," The Daily News, March 30, 1999).

    In April of 1999, a youthful-looking 38-year-old man from the Harare suburb of Epworth was released by his kidnappers after being declared "too old" to be killed for his body parts ("Too Old to be Sacrificed," The Standard, April 18-24, 1999).

    For every case that gets reported, however, one or more goes unreported.

    Add to this the rise in numbers of missing persons and some investigators begin to speculate on a grisly pattern.

    Sadly enough, it is precisely those individuals who are most socially and economically vulnerable - children, homeless people, unskilled workers - who are usually the targets for ritual murders. Children in particular are singled out because of the belief that their organs make powerful medicine.

    In the eastern highland region of Zimbabwe, a Mutare-based man, Tichafa Chiweshe, admitted that his paternal grandfather had ritually murdered one of his employees at his large farm so as to ensure the farm's continued success and productivity. His case points to one of the well-known side effects of ritual murder on the perpetrator of the crime, namely that the murdered person's spirit often returns as ngozi, an avenging spirit. The ngozi returns to wreak havoc in the lives of the murderer's family, sometimes even causing death. "People on my father's side always die when the guavas are ripe," Chiweshe explained(6). Moreover, he attributes his chronic bad luck to the ngozi, aware that things will only get better when he visits a n'anga and performs the appropriate rituals to put the murdered man's spirit to rest.

    The physical precariousness of those vulnerable individuals with regard to ritual murder speaks to the general economic, social and political precariousness of the collective Zimbabwean body, where a discourse of state-sanctioned covert violence and apathy colludes with an ever-worsening economy. As 1999 began, the country seemed inescapably swept up in a downward spiraling socio-economic and political vortex which extended its tendrils into all facets of life.

    The government was involved in a costly (allegedly $1,000,000-2,000,000 a day) and increasingly unpopular support of Laurent Kabila's forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (in the name of preserving 'democracy'). At the same time, it was dealing with charges of rampant domestic governmental corruption, skyrocketing inflation and interest rates, astronomical increases in the price of basic goods, a controversial land reform and resettlement program, the collapse of the healthcare system and stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the release of some $53 million in desperately needed aid.

    This kind of macro-structural violence perpetrated on the average Zimbabwean by external forces (whether government or international interests) can be analytically and metaphorically read as ritualistic murdering of the downtrodden to benefit the already powerful through what Peter Geschiere refers to as the "accumulative tendency of witchcraft in relation to power."(7)

    It is common knowledge that some state functionaries keep protective charms, regularly consult n'anga and in some cases keep tokoloshis to further their own acquisition of wealth and power, which is usually at the expense of their constituents. In such domains of power and politics, however, witchcraft beliefs, as Geschiere notes, are usually expressed in rumors and allusions. Outright accusation and public confession rarely occur and discerning concrete actions is difficult at best. Add to this the fact that witchcraft is, by nature, secretive, concealed from the public eye and it is not difficult to see why it is difficult to substantiate. The inability to fully capture witchcraft, in an empirical sense, serves to only increase its power - intimations alone are enough to change people's behavior and/or the course of events.

    The modern practice of witchcraft in Africa remains enigmatic to those of us rooted in other historical and cultural traditions and places, particularly those of us who brashly assume(d) such practices would expire with the advent of "modernization."

    Paradoxically, however, those same forces that constitute what we loosely label "modernity" - globalizing economy, novel flows of information and technology, new configurations of transnational power and control - appear to be the very same forces feeding the proliferation of witchcraft activity. So, far from receding into the dark corners and private spaces of public discourse, witchcraft is asserting itself in bold and bombastic ways. Not simply a reaction to capitalist forms of penetration and control, witchcraft is part of a deeply historical form of sense making which has adapted to the exigencies of modern African life. While the apparent rise in witchcraft practice may be seen as the birth pangs of Zimbabwe's delivery into the global economy, explanations of witchcraft are not reducible solely to this process. Witchcraft is a deeply historical and cultural grammar of affliction and effrontery, malaise and malappropriation, modernity and "tradition" that demands examination on its own terms.

    David Simmons 1999


A centuries old practice of ritual killing

Summary - On March 16, 2010 reproduced an article from The Herald, published by the Government of Zimbabwe, entitled 'Chiefs Are Not Ordinary Beings' which mentions the centuries old practice of a ritual kiling following a chief's death, a practice which, according to the article, continues in certain areas though nobody ever mentions or reports it. So the victims 'die a natural death', according to a former magistrate. 

The article - The article focuses on the traditions surrounding the death of a traditional chief. For centuries, the news of the death of a tradional leader is kept secret for as long as three or more months. Various reasons account for this traditional practice. Nowadays, however, the Government of Zimbabwe offers traditional chiefs a great variety of material advantages - salary and allowances, car, a.s.o. - and hence it has become lucrative to become a chief. This conflicts with the old tradition of keeping the news of the traditional ruler's death secret.

Moreover, modern Zimbabwean laws require people to report anyone they assume is lost by any means under the Missing Persons Act. Besides, relatives have a right to be shown where the late person is buried.

The article cites the cases of Sekuru Botemupote Mushore whose whereabouts still remains a mystery, and of the late Chief Makoni (Naboth Gandanzara) who passed  away on September 6, 2008 but whose death remained unreported and unannounced for a whole year.

"(....) Close sources to the chieftainship allege that the body of the late chief could not dry (be mummified) because (....). And when they attempted to take his body for burial at Matotwe Caves, the pall bearers found that the stone to the entrance of the cave could not open up (....).

But before that could be done, it is further alleged, the ritual of killing someone who would act as the chief's pillow or mutsago had to be undertaken. This is an age-old norm whereupon the consenting family of the slain person is given a piece of land or the late chief's daughter in marriage.

Long before the announcement of his burial, school authorities in the Makoni area were on record as advising pupils to move in groups for fear they would fall prey to the appeasing act. (italics added - FVDK)

"Whether that is done by consent or not, the laws of this country regard it as murder and whoever is responsible for taking away another person's life faces the wrath of the law.

"It is unfortunate though that in areas where such practices continue to be carried out, no one gets to hear about them and so they die a natural death," says Wilson Chipokoteke, a retired magistrate. (italics added - FVDK)


Click here for the original article

PhD Thesis: "Managing Misfortune: N'angas, HIV/AIDS and Health Development in Zimbabwe" by David Simmons (1999)





© fpm van der kraaij