Separate, more serious, charges must be created for people who kill to harvest body parts for muti, the Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities said on Monday.
“A person who kills and extracts body-parts has not committed only murder, but has violated human rights as well,” said Minister Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya in her prepared remarks at the opening of an indaba on ritual killings in Pretoria.
“We should have another category of reporting that describes the extra crimes and the motive for such incidents.”
Existing legislation should be reformed to provide better protection for victims of ritual killing, the minister said.
“We need to also raise the sensitivity within the criminal justice system to take into consideration the barbaric motives of these crimes and apply appropriate punitive measures,” she said.
In her address, Mayende-Sibiya also referred to the murder of 11-year-old Masego Kgomo of Soshanguve earlier this year. Her genitals were removed in what is believed to have been a muti killing.
Similarly, people who buy human body parts should be prosecuted as well, she said.
The minister called for more study of the beliefs and myths around traditional healing as well.
“We need to understand what drives a person to commit such horrible crimes against women and children,” she said. “What benefits are believed to be derived from imithi with human body parts as opposed to those derived from plants, for instance?”
She welcomed the input of traditional healers in dealing with the problem, and dissuaded people from witch-hunting, which often involves the killing of mainly older women on suspicion of witchcraft, she said. — Sapa