Victims were lured with promises of jobs, but when they arrived at the destination, they would be abducted and taken away to have their body parts cut off.
An expert on ritual murders, Dr Alunamutwe Rannditsheni, from Limpopo, said ritual killings were a worldwide phenomenon and not only an African problem. Almost all of the SADC countries experienced ritual killing-related kidnappings and human trafficking.
A 2008 investigation by the Human Rights League in Mozambique found such murders were rife in the country. It found people were trafficked between countries with the purpose to remove parts to be trafficked separately.
The league, which interviewed survivors, eye-witnesses, families of victims and civil society in Mozambique and South Africa, found body parts were forcibly removed from children and adults, causing death or severe disability.
“Throughout the report, informants share personal experiences, which confirm that body parts are taken across the border between South Africa and Mozambique.”
A customs official in Sofala province, Mozambique, said: “They say the treatments with genital organs only work if they are taken from a person alive.”
In some instances in Mozambique, victims were beheaded before the parts were removed.
“The murderer cut her throat like she was a goat. He cut her head just like that and removed her genital organs, leaving all the rest,” the report quoted a police officer at Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique as saying.
In another case, a female stall holder at Ressano Garcia on the border with South Africa was fingered for ritual murders.
“The police searched and found that she was carrying genital organs of adult men – I don’t know how many exactly, it was several. But they were from adult men, I saw them myself,” an officer said.
Cases of muti killings were also reported in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Tanzania. People living with albinism were the main targets in Tanzania.
Community leader and businessman Phumudzo Mukhwati alleged the ritual murder gangs had spread to provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng.
Victims were lured with promises of jobs, but when they arrived at the destination, they would be abducted and taken away to have their body parts cut off in Limpopo or a neighbouring country.