The maimed bodies of four youngsters with ears, tongues and sexual organs removed have been found near bushes in Njombe, a southern region of Tanzania. The children were aged between two and 10, and are believed to have become the victims of witchcraft rituals, as the body parts removed are often used as charms and in magical potions. Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola told parliament: “Our preliminary investigations have established that these incidents are caused by superstitious beliefs.
“We have already identified some of the suspects and we will soon take action against them.”
The minister didn’t specify if the victims were part of a minority – however this is often the case in similar killings in the country.
Superstition is widespread in Tanzania, with minorities such as albinos and women with red hair being targeted, abducted and killed for ritual purposes.
The United Nations, which condemned the recent “brutal” murders, said that as many as 80 albinos have been killed since 2000 in the country.
Albinism is a genetic disorder characterised by a lack of pigmentation in the hair, eyes and skin.
Despite being rare around the world, with just one person in 20,000 being affected by it, is fairly more common in Tanzania, where almost 1,500 people suffer from albinism.
The condition has seen children with albinism becoming the targets of infanticide, kidnapping, amputations and decapitations.
According to news website Words in the Bucket, body parts of albinos are sold for thousands of pounds, and a complete set of arms, legs, ears, and genitals can receive biddings of up to £57,000 ($75,000).
In March 2015 Tanzanian authorities arrested 32 witch doctors, magician credited with powers of healing, divination, and protection against the magic of others, believed to be targeting albinos.
The police chief in the north-western town of Geita, Joseph Konyo, said: “The witch doctors were arrested in possession of different items, including potions and oil from an unknown source.”
And police spokeswoman Advera Bulimba added: “Some of those arrested were found in possession of items like lizard skin, warthog teeth, ostrich eggs, monkey tails, bird claws, mule tails and lion skin.”