Nqobile Zulu, 5, and his pal Tshiamo Rabanye, 6, bled out after they had their noses, lips and genitals cut off before having their throats slit in a horrific black magic ritual in Soweto, South Africa
Two schoolboys murdered and mutilated in South Africa were believed to have been victims of muti killings where body parts are “stolen to order” for witchdoctors.
Three young pals were kidnapped in Soweto on Wednesday as they played in a park and one escaped but his best friends both met the most horrific of deaths.
Muti killings involve the removal of body parts while the victim is traditionally still alive which are then taken to “sangomas” to provide potions for their clients.
The blood drenched bodies of Nqobile Zulu, 5, and his friend Tshiamo Rabanye, 6, had their noses, lips and genitals cut off before they were stabbed and throats slit.
South Africa’s leading forensic psychologist Dr Gerard Labuschagne confirmed the removal of genitals is the hallmark of muti killings and that it is normally before death.
Little Rabanye’s body was found at 4:30 am on Thursday morning by a horrified search party in a huge pool of blood and his friend Zulu was found dead nearby at 7am.
The crime has shocked South Africa where muti killings are common place – muti is the Zulu word for medicine – for the making of black magic potions with body parts.
One boy was discovered in White City while the other was found later in Rockville in the Soweto township area of Gauteng Province just outside Johannesburg.
The father of the 5-year-old boy who miraculously escaped said all three were snatched as they played on swings in a park by a fat and a thin man driving a blue car.
The traumatised boy is the sole surviving witness of the double murder.
The dad said:”When he ran in to his mum he was gesturing and saying his friends had their throats slit but she did not believe him till they were reported missing.
“I have no idea how my son managed to escape but the way he explained he saw the men who took them and that they chased after him with a knife.
“He tried to escape and ran and we don’t know how he survived because he is still a young boy but somehow he did and he was able to save himself” he said.
The three boys had been playing on swings in Thokoza Park in Rockville
The sick background to muti killings was explained after 5 people were arrested for abducting and mutilating Bontle Mashiyane, 6, in Mpumalanga province.
The schoolgirl had been seized in Mganduzweni near White River on April 30, 2022, and her decomposing body was found to have had many body parts cut from her.
Most sangomas or traditional healers often known as witch doctors are law abiding and abhor muti killings but confirm amongst them that there are those who are “evil”.
After the recovery of tragic Bontle’s body the provisional police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told City Express how muti killings were carried out.
He said: “The majority of perpetrators confirm they harvest the body organs while the victim is still alive and these operations involve more than one person.
“However the sangoma is the key person in all of this.
“Muti killings are incredibly gruesome as victims are dismembered while alive and sangomas order genitals, fingers, hands, kneecaps, tongues and eyes.
“The common trait among the killers was that they held a strong belief in the power of muti made from human organs and that they are not very well educated.”
“The chain is a client then the sangoma and then their harvester who is the murderer then the victim and the killers are paid according to parts they get” he said.
The community where little Nqobile and Tshiamo were so horrifically murdered and mutilated is demanding swift justice from the police to find the killers.
Zulu’s mother Nomthandazo and grandmother Mapiti Tshabalala asked to see the body before it was taken away and his mum collapsed and gran fainted.
Zulu lived with his gran Mapiti and Rabanye lived with his gran Nqobile Ndlovu and both went to Isiseko Primary School in White City and were close friends.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Gerard Labuschagne the former head of the SA Police Service Psychology Unit has written extensively on muti murders in South Africa.
He has carried out over 30 muti investigations and said three links are usually involved – the client, the traditional healer or sangoma and the murderer or murderers.
He confirmed the removal of the genitals is the trademark trait in all such killings.
Dr. Labuschange wrote: “It would not be the client himself who suggests the use of human body parts but the traditional healer who decided what ingredients are needed.”
He said depending on whether the client wanted for example an improved sex life, luck for gambling or to improve business, the sangoma would choose the body parts needed.
Dr. Labuschange continued: “The client is not involved in the murder and only approaches the healer to explains his needs and provide the money.”
“He would then collect the muti when it is prepared.
“Traditionally the victim must be alive when the body parts are removed as this increases the power of the muti because the body parts are believed to retain the person’s life essence.
“Muti murders always relate to an illegal act and may be defined as the unlawful intentional killing of a person to gather human body parts.
“Experience indicates genitals are removed most frequently but it can be any body part including blood, hands, eyes, the head and the tongue”.
The two boys had their genitals, lips and noses cut from their bodies.
He added that most traditional healers did not condone muti murders and associated them with “charlatans and evil healers known as witches”.
A sangoma who refused to be named for fear or reprisals said: “Graves are robbed for body parts and they work fine but the muti is not as good as if from a live person.”
“Children and albinos give the best muti and it is more powerfiul if taken when alive. Body parts can be obtained through the back door from hospitals as well” she said.
It is thought between 60 and 85% of South Africans believe in witchcraft and black magic and in the “miraculous” medicinal effects of muti to cure them or improve their lives.
The African Traditional Medicine Programme in Gauteng Province where the township of Soweto is based condemned the horrific murders immediately.
A spokesman said:”We are traditional health practitioners and not killers but we are fully aware of people doing criminal acts in the name of our sector.
“But we wish to categorically state that we are distancing ourselves from such individuals and acts and that we are doing all we can to help the authorities”.
The South African Police refused to comment officially on whether they believe it to be a double muti murder but local media quote polices sources confirming it.
Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela has mobilised crack teams to track down the perpetrators and promised families swift and quick justice.
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi visited the grieving families and said:”What has happened is beyond barbaric and must not be tolerated – it is just sickening.
“The perpetrators must be hunted down and brought to justice for this sick crime”.
South African crime figures show in the six months from April to September 2022 that 558 child murders and 294 attempted child murders but a small percentage were muti murders.
Muti murders are not categorized in official figures but crime experts estimate there are between 50 and 300 a year in South Africa where the most valuable targets for mutilation are young children.