THE MARKET OF THE DEAD
Witchcraft in Africa is very different to witchcraft elsewhere in the world.
Spell making can sometimes be gruesome.
The use of body parts is prevalent - human and animal.
Although the good witchdoctor and traditional healers will not use human body parts, animal body parts are a common feature of many types of spells.
The name for this is Muti (Medicine in Zulu) and most africans attest of the powerful nature of muti.
Many Sangoma rituals involve live animals, plants and body parts.
Anything from chicken to rare animals living in the bush.
I first heard about Muti killing in South Africa as I was living in a farm near the Orange River.
I started to investigate the Muti Murders trend for the biggest national tabloid (The Daily Sun) and quickly learned that each year around 300 people are being killed by Bayolis.
A muti murder may be loosely defined as a murder where the intention is to gather human body parts for use in traditional African medicine.
A witch or bayoli usually advocates it after having been consulted by a client.
A third party carries out the actual murder.
The witch is rarely involved in the murder.
The reason for using human body parts is that they are considered to be more powerful than the usual ingredients (such as an equivalent animal part) or method used in traditional medicine as they contain the person’s life essence.
Victims vary widely in age and social standing.
They are often young children or elderly people and are both male and female.
In some instances, the victim is « identified » and « purchased » via a transaction involving a nominal amount of money.
The victim is then abducted, often at night and taken to an isolated place.
Usually in the bush if the murder is being committed in a rural area.
It is intended that the victim be mutilated while conscious, so that the medicine can be made more potent through the screams of the victim agony.
Mutilation does not take place in order to kill the victim but it is expected that the victim will die of the wounds.
Body parts excised include soft tissue - eyelids, lips, scrota, labia, genitalia, although there have been instances where entire limbs have been severed.
These body parts are removed to be mixed with medicinal plants to create a medicine through a cooking process.
The resulting medicine is sometimes consumed, but is often made into a paste that is carried on the person or rubbed onto scarifications.
Muti made from human body parts is considered to be exceptionally powerful.
The clients who approaches the witch is usually someone who wants to achieve a measure of personal gain.
This may include financial gain for a business, fertility problems, power for a politician or protection for a criminal.
They were instances where « cash-in-transit » vehicle robberies where foiled and the suspects arrested had human body parts on their persons, thinking it was going to make them bullet-proof invisible and to prevent arrest by police.