With the rise in witchcraft persecutions in Africa comes word of something else just as troubling. A growing black market in human organs has appeared. These organs are harvested, not for their value as transplants, but for their value in traditional "folk" remedies.
Genitals and Heads Removed While Alive
The Mozambique Human Rights League states that the problem is widespread across Southern Africa, with ritual killings and disappearances commonplace. Border-crossers are found with alarming regularity to be carrying bags containing human organs and body parts; genitals and heads being preferred items. It is said many of those who are killed have the organs cut-off while they are still living. An even more alarming trend, is that much of it comes from children. Matshidisho Ntsiuoa, a researcher for Child Welfare in Bloemfontein, South Africa, tells a story of a woman who was given a belt of children's fingers and penises to wear in order to help ease her pregnancy. She paid a very high fee to the Witch Doctor for this "treatment".
The true numbers may never be known, as Africa harbors vast quantities of orphans from the twin plagues of constant warfare, and AIDS. Many of these children end their very short existence far away from the watchful eyes of the local authorities, who in many cases, may actually be complicit in this vile trade.
Law is no Help
The strange thing about this problem is that in many African countries, the possession of body parts alone is not a crime. Unless the law can prove that the person possessing the body parts is also the killer, no law has been broken. Prosecutions are very rare in this most unusual crime.
On a side note, many of the legitimate traditional African folk healers are trying to distance themselves from this growing trend. The core of the problem is the outrageous profits this trade can bring to the charlatans while they prey on the ignorance of others.