Tanzania orders crackdown on witchcraft-related crime

DAR ES SALAAM — Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in his New Year address ordered a crackdown on what he said was a growing number of murders and rapes linked to witchcraft beliefs.


Witchcraft, or Wicca, is a form of neo-Paganism. It is officially recognized as a religion by the U.S. government.

This is a diverse movement that knows no central authority. Practitioners do not all have the same views, beliefs and practices.

While all witches are pagans, not all pagans are witches. Likewise, while all Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccans.

Note: The Witchcraft news tracker includes news items about a wide variety of diverse movements reported in the media as ‘witchcraft.’ It also includes news articles on the plight of alleged witches.

“As much as many cases of rape are associated with moral decay, there is evidence that some traders nurse stupid beliefs that having sexual intercourse with infants can bring them fortune,” he said late Monday.

“There are also those who believe that possession of some organs of infants and albinos can turn them rich,” he added, ordering the police to come down hard out on such practices.

According to Kikwete, rape cases doubled to around 8,000 in 2007 from 3,946 nationwide the previous year, while the number of murders reported in the east African nation also rose from 2,309 to 3,144 over the same period.

Tanzania’s Albino society recently complained that albinos were being targeted by some witch-doctors, following a string of murders.

In 2007, police reported several cases of people exhuming the freshly-buried bodies of infants to remove organs, in many cases the genitals, to make potions used in witchcraft rituals.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 2, 2008.
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