A new phenomenon of kidnapping bald people for organ trafficking, reportedly for superstitious reasons, is worrying the police in Mozambique’s Zambézia province, whose government launched a series of operations to curb the practice.
At the beginning of June, three men were killed in the district of Milange, a few kilometres from the Malawian border. One of the victims was found decapitated and with parts of his organs removed. Two men were arrested and subsequently admitted that the organs were to be used by witch doctors in Tanzania and Malawi.
The motive behind the killings is local superstitions which hold that the head of a bald man contains gold or can bring riches, a Zambézia’s police spokesperson told the BBC. This is the first time bald men have been the subject of recorded attacks in Mozambique.
But there have been other instances in the country where killings motivated by dark magic have been reported, particularly affecting albino people. The situation became so dire that the United Nations was compelled to conduct a mission in 2016 to investigate the practice in the Southeast African nation.
The persecution of people with albinism has been reported in other countries in Southern Africa, in particular neighbouring Tanzania, where the government has been developing campaigns to combat superstition and prejudice and arresting suspects.
In Mozambique, some people took to social media to discuss this latest attacks against bald men in the country.
Ukombe Weya, a resident of the city of Maputo, gave a warning to those intending to travel there.
Atenção Homens calvos viajando para Moçambique
Homens calvos em Moçambique estão sendo alvo de ataques rituais, alertou a polícia Moçambicana, após o recente assassinato de três homens calvos para as partes dos seus corpos. Dois suspeitos foram presos no distrito central de Milange, onde ocorreram os assassinatos.
Warning for bald men travelling to Mozambique
Bald men in Mozambique are being targeted by ritual attacks, the Mozambican police warned, after the recent killing of three bald men for body parts. Two suspects were arrested in the central district of Milange, where the murders happened.
Hussene Algy Adamo, a student living in the city of Inhambane, in southern Mozambique, said that the local police were already dealing with the case:
PRM acredita no envolvimento de curandeiros na morte de homens calvos vulgo carecas.
A perseguição e assassinato de indivíduos calvos para a extracção e venda dos seus órgãos, no distrito de Morrumbala, província da Zambézia, para presumíveis rituais supersticiosos, tem motivações culturais e é encomendada pelos médicos tradicionais, considera a Polícia da República de Moçambique (PRM), que indica, também, existir uma crença segundo a qual as vítimas têm, na cabeça, algum poder que gera fortuna. Nos últimos dias, pelos três homens com problemas de calvície foram mortos naquela parcela do país.
PRM believes witch doctors are involved in the death of bald men.
The tracking and murder of bald individuals for the theft and sale of their organs, in Morrumbala district, Zambézia province, for presumed superstitious rituals, has cultural motivations and is ordered by traditional healers, the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) believes, which also indicates the existence of a belief that the victims have, in the head, some power which generates wealth. In recent days, three men with problems with baldness were killed in that part of the country.
Angela Ferreira Samantha shared on Facebook a report by the blogger Armen Snaippa, who suggested that the issue is part of the larger social challenges affecting Mozambique:
EU QUERIA UM MOÇAMBIQUE COM VERGONHA NA CARA
Um país onde as pessoas tivessem vergonha de sair a rua vestidas como se fossem a gravação de um filme porno, onde os professores tivessem vergonha de pedir sexo em troca de notas e as alunas de oferecer sexo em troca de notas, emprego e outros benefícios, uma nação onde as pessoas procurassem empregos honestos e não tivessem que ferir ou mesmo tirar a vida dos outros para ganhar o seu pão, um país onde não se caçassem nem albinos e nem calvos ou carecas para práticas obscuras ou de “magia negra” visando o enriquecimento fácil.
I WOULD LIKE A MOZAMBIQUE WITH A SENSE OF SHAME
A country where people were ashamed to go outside dressed as if it was a porn movie shoot, where the teachers were ashamed to ask for sex in exchange for grades and the students were ashamed to offer sex for grades, jobs, and other benefits, a nation where the people looked for honest jobs and did not have to hurt or even take the lives of others to earn their bread, a country where neither albinos nor bald people were hunted for dark practices or “black magic” aimed at easy enrichment.
Despite the seriousness of the events, some did not miss the chance for a bit of macabre humor. Zenaida Machado, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Angola and Mozambique, and an avid Twitter user, took to the platform to point out that the Morrumbala district chief Pedro Sapange and Zambezia police spokesman Inácio Dina were both bald.
Mozambican authorities are extremely worried about the ritual killings of bald people. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/SLBWgBGgEH
— Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) 8 juin 2017