For a couple of years now, a good friend of mine has been raising awareness of a particularly disturbing practice which is taking place in Mozambique and South Africa. So-called ‘witchdoctors’ are seeking human body parts from live victims to be used in their medicine.
They believe that traditional medicines, when made with human parts are stronger and far more powerful. Some of the details of the attacks made on people are extremely gruesome and make for difficult reading, but the stories and reports have to be heard as the governments of both countries claim the practice doesn’t occur.
As far as I am aware there are no other groups or organisations highlighting this situation and I admire Simon for his determination to raise awareness, confront the governments with the facts and help the victims of these hideous attacks.
There are many field reports about the attacks but there are many more which go unheard. Here’s an example of a recent incident:
We’ve received an interview from the father of a 10 year old girl who was murdered for her body parts a few weeks ago in Mozambique, her body was dumped in the family’s well. The father believes the bodyparts were to be used for Muti to increase business at the local mill. Here is what he said. “She was 10 years old. They killed her here in the house and then they went to cut her there in the bush. I saw the body, when we took it out from the well. My daughter was cut in this lower part (referring to her genitalia ed.), they removed the tongue and the teeth. They are going to take them to a traditional healer that will make a treatment to have a lot of deals in the grinding (referring to the local mill ed.)”
The police chief for the case of the 10-year-old girl confirmed that they killed the girl and then removed her genital organs, her tongue and her teeth. He then said “After they murdered they threw her in the well that had water, the relatives started looking but they didn’t know that she was right there in the well of their house, they even kept drinking the water from that well even after the child was inside it”.
I’m not only blogging about this because I think the situation needs as much exposure as possible but there are some interesting photographic considerations for a cause of this nature. Not long ago, Simon asked me for some advice about the cover of the next annual report and wondered what images I would recommend. To be honest, I struggled with it and found myself asking how on earth would you find a way of providing images to support this type of work. You have to tread a very delicate line between showing the reality of the situation which would be horrific whilst preserving the dignity of the person involved. I particularly like the image which has been used on last year’s report and I hope I’ll be able to help Action Against Trafficking Body Parts for their next issue. But if anyone has any suggestions or comments to make, I’d be pleased to hear them.