Maputo – Police in Mozambique’s northern Nampula province have detained 14 people after body parts and organs were found in a house, apparently for use in witchcraft, the state Noticias newspaper reported on Friday.
“These people claim the organs were extracted from their dead relatives, not through murder but through magical techniques,” Acting Provincial Attorney Daniel Magula was quoted by Noticias as saying, adding that an investigation was under way.
The 14 were arrested last week after human hearts, arms, hands and legs were found in a house in the district of Nacaroa, northeast of Nampula city, the provincial capital.
The discovery was made during a purification ritual ordered by a local traditional chief and in which some of the 14 suspects took part, district administrator Cassamo Mussagy said.
President Joaquim Chissano on Thursday condemned the recent wave of killings and mutilations in Nampula province during his state of the nation address, saying they were “an aberration to human morals, which must be denounced and severely punished”.
He said killings that took place in February and March in Nampula must be thoroughly investigated “in order not to create a generalised feeling of insecurity and panic.”
“We should not allow Mozambique to become a fertile ground for this evil,” Chissano told parliament.
The Mozambique Human Rights League (LDH) recently blamed the mutilations on foreign witchdoctors, mostly from west Africa, who have settled in the country.
A Mozambican woman and her two-year-old son were found murdered in Nampula province in late March, with the woman’s genitals removed.
Local Roman Catholic leaders contend that the killings are linked to trafficking of body parts and have demanded a thorough investigation.