JOHANNESBURG, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Vicious attackers hacked off a South African boy’s hand, ear and genitals and left him for for dead in what police said could be part of the “muti” trade in body parts for witchcraft.
Sello Chokoe, 10, was in critical condition in hospital on Monday after he was attacked near the small village of GaMaleka in South Africa’s rural northern province of Limpopo.
Chokoe was searching for cattle in nearby mountains on Friday when he was attacked, hit on the head with a blunt weapon and left for dead, said police spokesman Mohale Ramatseba.
A local woman collecting firewood found him after hearding his faint cry for help.
“The motive has not been established but we don’t rule out the prospect that it could be muti-related,” Ramatseba said.
He said several similar crimes had happened in the area before and arrests were expected soon in the latest case after a flood of information from outraged locals.
“Muti” murders — killings to obtain body parts for supposedly potent traditional cures — still happen with alarming regularity in post-apartheid South Africa and often go unreported, police say.
Killings are often carried out to meet a specific order, police say. For example a hand might be cut off to sell to a shopkeeper who would bury it under the shop door to entice customers’ money.