Uganda-Tanzania: Tanzanian witches influence child sacrifice in Uganda

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2011—Uganda recently announced a tremendous increase in the number of ritual child sacrifice. According to a 2008 Ugandan Police Report, ritual murder increased over 800% from the previous year with children being the victims in the vast majority of cases.

The BBC reported that traffickers are kidnapping children from rural villages taking them to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, for ritual sacrifice.  Many villagers believe the sacrifice brings wealth and prosperity, however Mr. Uri Mabiriizi, a Ugandan witchdoctor, says the influx of Tanzanian witchdoctors to Uganda is fostering ritual killings of children.

During an interview, Mr. Mabiriizi explains child sacrifice in the context of the Ugandan paganism as follows:

In Uganda, we had no witches sacrificing children, traditionally speaking. [Human sacrifice or child sacrifice] was introduced to us just recently by witches from other countries such as Tanzania. Ugandan witches do not believe that they are strong enough to perform child sacrifice. They think that child sacrifice takes a witch doctor with a certain spiritual capacity to be performed. Only Tanzanian witches have the ability to perform child sacrifice and make someone’s garden dry in a few days. Ugandan witches can’t do that.

In early 2008, the Tanzanian government began cracking down on human sacrifice and witchcraft, leading many Tanzanian witchdoctors to flee to Uganda.  In Uganda, they found a culture more open to their practices.  Some Tanzanian witches openly advertise on the radio Ugandan to attract wealthy customers.

Jubilee Campaign, a UK organization fighting against child sacrifice in Uganda, argues that many witchdoctors manipulate wealthy businessmen and politicians into believing that child sacrifice will bring them prosperity and success. Some wealthy clients purchase children for large sums of money from child traffickers for sacrifice. Others kidnap children for the ceremony.

Jubilee Campain argues that the inadequate legislation and lack of police resources in Uganda hinder elimination of child sacrifice, and urges stronger prosecution to end the practice. Though the Witchcraft Act 1957 prohibits the practice, many Ugandans are unaware that such law exists. The law is rarely applied in the Ugandan judicial system. Of 135 arrests between 2006 and 2010 relating to human sacrifice, only 83 cases went to court, and only one person was convicted.

The victims’ family generally cannot afford the legal cost to prosecute child sacrifice cases, according to Jubilee Campaign. Additionally, people in rural areas neither have access to local lawyers nor the financial means to purchase a legal assistance from the city for a prolonged court process.

Mr. Mabiriizi, however, argues that lack of police resources or inadequate legislations are not the problems of eliminating child sacrifice in the rural area.

In my village, if you kill someone, you are subject to the death penalty. You will be imprisoned and wait for the death penalty after the arrest. But even when police arrest is not readily available, people in the village will kill you by beating you with sharp objects, they destroy all your properties including the house, plantations, animals, and even your family members.

Mr. Mabiriizi, at the time of the interview, was in South Korea after being falsely accused of killing a woman for ritual sacrifice and fleeing from the village people.

Many advocates argue that child sacrifice cases are still pending without any legal resolutions. Mr. Mabiriizi says the villagers are available to bring justice against the offenders of child sacrifice in the rural area when police arrest of the offender is delayed. But, neither villagers nor the legal system is available to defend the rights of the innocent children from ritual killings, while the crime is heavily concentrated in the city.

The Ugandan authority must step up and educate public that one can prosper only through hard work, not sacrificing an innocent child to gods to fight the perpetuating evil.

To sign the petition to stop child sacrifice in Uganda visit

Source:  Washington Times Communities

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